ADF warns of influx of refugees and increased conflict due to climate change
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) may be forced to increase patrols to deal with increased “sea-borne migration” prompted by rising sea levels, according to internal briefing notes.
Documents obtained by the ABC under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 also warn that climate change will “exacerbate the potential conflict” and contribute to “state fragility and the undermining of economic development in our immediate region.”
Former Chief of the Defence Force Admiral Chris Barrie (retired) said Australia would be seen as “the land of opportunity” for those affected by climate change.
“I once suggested to government we might be talking 100 million people,” said Admiral Barrie, now a member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change.
“One-hundred million people when we’re only 40 million people — you can get the enormity of this problem. Frankly, it would be beyond our resources.”
One note warns that the Indo-Pacific region is projected to experience significant environmental challenges that will affect the ADF’s operations.
“Sea level rise, ocean acidification, increase in extreme temperatures and a forecast increase in intensity of bushfires and extreme weather events may directly impact Defence capabilities, personnel and equipment,” it reads.
Despite this, the ADF states in the documents released that it “does not currently have an overarching strategy or policy to specifically address the risks posed by climate change beyond the 2016 Defence White Paper”.
The ADF identifies increases in illegal foreign fishing and sea-borne migration as a result of climate change as consequences that would impact on ADF resources, requiring additional patrols.
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