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Call to Australian politicians to make climate highest priority, decarbonisation by 2030 | Australian Security Leaders Climate Group

When even retired members of our military establishment are calling for a decarbonisation target of 2030, you have to wonder at the games being played by the Liberal, National and Labor Parties on highly insufficient 2030 climate targets, and the lack of preparation in safeguarding Australians from climate change impacts.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group issued a call to all political parties in an open letter, signed by 17 senior former defence and intelligence officials, asking them to make climate their highest priority and to aim for decarbonisation by 2030. The statement appeared as a full page in The Australian newspaper.

The open letter follows the Missing in Action report from September 2021. This report proposed that “Focus should be on the root causes of climate warming, principally eliminating emissions much faster than proposed, rather than just the responding to the symptoms.” The report recommended “to the government a set of initial actions in a climate and security plan to Protect, Prevent and Prepare, starting with a realistic assessment of the risks.

  • An urgent Climate and Security Risk Assessment
  • Establish a dedicated Office of Climate Threat Intelligence
  • Triennial National Climate Risk Assessments
  • Build an Australian National Prevention & Resilience Framework 
Leadership in Australia has been failing citizens by the lack of a national climate risk assessment and a National Climate Adaptation Plan, and an increasing climate change security threat.
The Open letter in full is below:

Open Letter.

THE FIRST DUTY OF GOVERNMENT IS TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE, BUT ON CLIMATE–SECURITY RISKS, AUSTRALIA IS MISSING IN ACTION.

As ex-Service members and experienced security practitioners who have witnessed up-close the devastation of war and crisis, we consider that climate change now represents the greatest threat to the future and security of Australians.

The first duty of government is the safety and protection of the people, but Australia has failed when it comes to climate change threats. Australia currently has no credible climate policy, leaving our nation unprepared for increasingly harsh impacts.

We call upon all those offering themselves as political leaders in this election year to make climate change a primary focus and commit to mobilising the resources necessary to address this clear and present danger.

Our Earth is already too hot and climate change is already dangerous. Fossil fuel emissions must be reduced to zero at emergency speed. The goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is wholly inadequate; decarbonisation must be reached as close to 2030 as possible. Accelerating renewables to secure energy resilience in a conflicted world is critical for Australia.

Climate change imperils the health, well-being and livelihoods of Australia’s people. Hotter and more extreme weather, floods, bushfires, cyclones and heatwaves, together with coastal inundation, are threatening water, transport, food and other critical infrastructure systems, disrupting supply chains and undermining our resilience as a nation.

The recent east coast floods and the Black Summer bushfires compelled major peacetime mobilisations of the Australian Defence Force, including Reserves, which is now increasingly being used to undertake climate-related humanitarian and disaster relief.

The Great Barrier Reef is at risk of collapse; likewise irrigated agriculture in the longer term in the Murray-Darling Basin system, which remains under severe stress.

Across our region, climate change is an existential threat to nations and communities, especially those vulnerable to sea-level rise. Globally, water and food crises exacerbated by climate change, along with population pressures, have resulted in escalating cycles of civil unrest and conflict. Inevitably, vulnerable people migrate from affected areas in increasing numbers.

Addressing this challenge requires global co-operation rather than conflict. While our allies are taking action, climate-security risks are not being properly assessed in Australia; we are ill-prepared, and failing in our responsibilities as a global citizen and strategic defence ally.

Climate must be made an immediate security priority, at the top of the national agenda, with a commitment for mobilisation and emergency action from all sides of politics.

ADMIRAL CHRIS BARRIE AC

Former Chief, Australian Defence Force (Retd)

AIR VICE-MARSHAL JOHN BLACKBURN AO

Deputy Chief, Royal Australian Air Force (Retd)

COLONEL NEIL GREET

Australian Army (Retd)

AIR VICE-MARSHAL NEIL HART AM

Royal Air Force (Retd)

VICE ADMIRAL PAUL MADDISON

Royal Australian Navy (Retd)

GROUP CAPTAIN ANNE BORZYCKI

Royal Australian Air Force (Retd)

LIEUTENANT COLONEL DECHLAN ELLIS

Australian Army (Retd)

COMMODORE VINCENZO DI PIETRO AM,CSC

Royal Australian Navy (Retd)

CAPTAIN PADDY HODGMAN

Royal Australian Navy (Retd)

COLONEL JOHN BLAXLAND

Australian Army (Retd)

COMMODORE DREW MCKINNIE

Royal Australian Navy (Retd)

LIEUTENANT COMMANDER STEVE COLE

Royal Australian Navy (Retd)

MAJOR MICHAEL THOMAS

Australian Army (Retd)

CHERYL DURRANT

Former Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation, Australian Department of Defence

JASON BROWN

Former Assistant Secretary, Defence Security

DR PETER LAYTON

Associate Fellow Royal United Services Institute

DR ALBERT PALAZZO

Former Director of War Studies, Australian Army

IAN DUNLOP

Former Chair, Australian Coal Association

A couple of comments from twitter:

While Chris Bowen made up a nice meme, he seems to ignore that the Australian Security Climate Group argue for full decarbonisation by 2030, while the ALP has only set a 43% emissions reduction target. Room for ALP movement, perhaps?

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