Research report

The longest conflict: Australia's climate security challenge

30 Jun 2015

The Longest Conflict draws on extensive interviews with senior military planners and security strategists in Australia, and from around the world. It finds that Australia is critically underprepared for a coming climate security crisis, bound to have disproportionate impacts in Australia, and in our immediate region.

The report reveals that our closest allies, the United States and United Kingdom, are taking climate security extremely seriously. Yet, Australia's defence establishment has not developed a strategic framework addressing climate security. Nor do we have a robust, whole of government plan for climate change. Asia will be the front line of climate change crises. Security and humanitarian risks from climate change in the Indo-Pacific are significantly higher than those in other regions. Climate-related displacement, and the compounding effect of climate instability on competition over food, water, and energy resources will pose real risks to human security and geopolitical stability. If prudent policy continues to be obstructed by fractituous climate-change politics, our key military institutions and defence establishments will be unable to effectively prepare for a century-defining risk to our peace and security.

The Longest Conflict outlines the vital actions Australia's defence establishment can take now to manage climate security risks prudently. The security implications of climate change are known, real, and have begun. It is vital that we prepare ourselves before a crisis of combined economic, security, and environmental impacts exposes Australia's failure to act. 

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