Calls to establish climate change intelligence unit

Hot temperatures will make parts of the Northern Territory unliveable, a retired defence chief says.

Hot temperatures will make parts of the Northern Territory unliveable, a retired defence chief says. Photo: Getty

Australia is failing to give enough consideration to how climate change will impact food and water security and change the strategic environment in the future, senior former defence and security leaders say.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group has called for the government to release a declassified version of a security assessment conducted by the Office of National Assessment in 2022 about the risk of climate change.

The Northern Territory is one place where climate change will impact the nature of a conflict, with increasing temperatures and humidity making parts of it unliveable for most of the year, former Australian Defence Force chief Chris Barrie said.

“This is just one example of climate being missing in action in security analysis,” the retired admiral said.

“Even the US defence secretary describes climate as an ‘existential’ risk, something he does not say about the supposed ‘China threat’ which consumes our security establishment.”

The group – which also includes former deputy airforce chief John Blackburn and former Defence Department director Cheryl Durrant – has called on the government to establish a dedicated climate threat intelligence unit.

The unit would present annual and declassified briefings to parliament.

It also wants new laws to address catastrophic risk management and a national resilience framework to address emergencies across areas such as energy, water, logistics, health, agriculture and industry.

“Climate deserves much more than a mere cameo role on the stage of global security,” Barrie said.

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