Additional Comments by Coalition Senators
Report and findings
Coalition Senators agree with much of the body of the report relating to
evidence on strategic and long-terms risks to Australia’s national security and
the role of humanitarian and military personnel in responding to the impact of
climate on our security and strategic environment.
However, Coalition Senators note that the terms of reference for this
inquiry have been applied liberally to focus on broader policy matters related
to international climate agreements and obligations. Additionally, the
committee has also focussed on and recommended defence establish internal
emissions reduction targets, also outside of the spirit of this inquiry.
Commonwealth agencies with an interest in the impact of climate change
on Australia’s national security environment provided information to the
inquiry on the role of climate change in their strategic considerations.
The Department of Defence outlined in their submission to the inquiry
Direct climate impacts – such as the change in the frequency
of extreme weather events, increase in the number of hot days and sea-level
rise – can affect Defence bases, operations, capability and personnel. These
impacts are relatively well understood and are largely being addresses in
concert with other government agencies, allies and industry partners. Climate
change is also increasing the demand for Australian Defence Force (ADF) to
conduct humanitarian operations both domestically and overseas.
Furthermore, the Department said:
Defence is progressively embedding climate change in its core
business functions. Defence now considers the impact of climate change in its
policy setting, planning, operations, preparedness capability life cycle
management and estate and environmental management.
Similarly, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Successive Australian governments have recognised these
threats and risks. Australia’s national security agencies have well-defined
responsibilities and capacities to respond...
DFAT works as part of a whole-of-government effort to address
and manage the risks to security from climate change. Of particular importance
is the Department’s leadership on strengthening international cooperation and
action against climate change, including participation in forums and agreements
such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 2015
Paris Agreement, the Platform on Disaster Displacement and the Sendai Framework
for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
Mr Mark Crosweller, Director General of Emergency Management Australia,
the Department of Home Affairs, confirmed the Department is leading a whole of
Government approach to address the future impacts of natural hazards; this
includes the effects of climate change. In the hearing on March 20, 2018, Mr
The department is taking the lead role across the
Commonwealth to address the future impacts of natural hazards. With the
Department of the Environment and Energy, we co-chair the Australian government
Disaster and Climate Resilience Reference Group to embed disaster and climate
resilience in Australian government policies and programs. This group has
representatives from every Australian government department. The group is
deepening understanding of the current and future impacts of climate change and
provides a forum for sharing experiences of how we can respond through
engagement with the Commonwealth's expert science and research organisations in
the private sector.
Coalition Senators believe the Government and stakeholder departments
have sufficient strategies in place to ensure Australia’s response to the
implications of climate change on national security is well understood and
consistent across the whole of Government. As such, we provide the below
response to the recommendations contained in the report.
Response to recommendations
In response to recommendations 2 and 3, Coalition Senators believe the
2016 Defence White Paper and the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, along with
the whole of Government approach outlined by the Department of Home Affairs
sufficiently recognise the importance of climate change in strategic
considerations. Evidence provided to the committee demonstrates climate change
and related regional implications are already part of strategic and national
Coalition Senators agree with recommendation 4 so far as the release of
the work would benefit other Commonwealth departments in their preparedness and
planning. Coalition Senators also note the importance of the Commonwealth
Government’s Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Program and associated operational
support by the Australian Defence Force to combatting many of the issues
related to climate change in the pacific. Australia’s Defence Cooperation
Agreements are also critical in this context. Defence should deploy to support
HADR where civilian capacity is limited or exceeded. Funding models should also
be explored in a similar manner to that which enables augmentation of national
In response to recommendation 6, Coalition Senators note the leadership
role the Department of Home Affairs have taken in ensuring a whole of
Government response to climate change and resilience, through the Director
General of Emergency Management Australia. Climate change is a whole of society
risk and should be normalised across all departments, there is no need for a
dedicated leadership position, current arrangements are sufficient.
In response to recommendation 7, Coalition Senators acknowledge the
steps Defence have taken in recognising the role climate effects play in
forward and strategic planning, particularly in projecting the potential for
increased HADR deployments. Advice from Defence that a Defence Climate and
Security Advisor has been appointed is welcome and sufficient:
The embedding process was supported initially by a Global
Change and Energy Security Initiative established in 2013 and in 2016, and
since mid-2016 by the appointment of a Defence Climate and Security Adviser.
These initiatives have focussed on building climate change awareness throughout
Defence and across government, and supporting adoptions of climate change
considerations into business as usual.
In their submission, Defence further noted that:
The 2016 Integrated Investment Program states that Defence
will implement a comprehensive program of investment aimed at continuously
developing, monitoring and maintaining critical infrastructure, ADF bases and
logistics systems such as fuel facilities. Energy, including electricity and
fuel, is a key enabler of ADF operations, supporting both force projection
(through bases) and military capabilities.
In response to recommendation 8, Coalition Senators support staff in
relevant departments such as the Department of Home Affairs, Defence and
Foreign Affairs and Trade becoming more familiar with the impact of climate
effects on national security.
Coalition Senators support the principle of recommendation 10 and the
Department of Defence’s continued use of and exploration of alternative energy
sources for defence installations.
In response to recommendation 10, Coalition Senators do not support
internal emissions reductions targets for Defence, however note the successful
exploration of alternative energy sources such as utilising wave energy at HMAS
Stirling in Western Australia – alternative energy sources should be pursued
where practical and where operational concerns and demands permit. In their
submission, Defence noted the potential for further exploration of alternative
While changes in energy market dynamics and energy sources
will in the short-term require strategic thinking to ensure security of Defence
liquid fuel supplies, in the medium-long term they may provide new energy
conversion technology, energy sources and mobile processing that could provide
Defence ways to reduce its energy footprint, increase energy productivity (and
thereby capability return on investment), and the capability to produce its own
power and fuel on demand wherever it is and whatever it is doing, freeing it
from limiting logistic chains. Further innovation examples are provided below
in “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Actions in Defence”.
Coalition Senators believe fuel security for Defence operations is an
ongoing concern, in their submission Defence stated:
Continued access and supply of energy is critical for Defence
missions. Energy supply, particularly fuel, is provided through a transforming
global market and Defence will be reliant on the national and international
support base for the foreseeable future.
Whilst Defence have been successfully exploring alternative energy
sources for base operations, Coalition Senators recommend Defence continue to
review and implement measures to reduce reliance on external energy sources
both in terms of fuel security for operations and utilities for bases and
domestic installations. Defence will be a key stakeholder in the inquiry into
liquid fuel security recently announced by Minister Frydenberg which
should consider, among other factors, the role for alternative energy sources
such as biofuels (whether drop-in or replacement).
In response to recommendation 11, Coalition Senators recognise the
Foreign Policy White Paper reinforces the importance of our official
development of our Overseas Development Assistance as a powerful tool to
encourage sustainable development and reduce poverty in our region, leading to
stability, security and prosperity, which for Australia is second only to the
defence of Australia.
Coalition Senators note the Commonwealth Government currently spends
$4 billion on our Overseas Development Aid program with 90 per cent
allocated to the Indo-Pacific. Concerning the impact of climate change, the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade noted in their submission that:
DFAT is active in a range of regional forums, such as the
East Asia Summit and Pacific Islands Forum. Globally, DFAT engages in the G20
and its strong sustainable development, climate and energy action agenda.
Through our network of bilateral relationships, we are strengthening political
and practical cooperation to mitigate climate change risks...
DFAT is integrating climate action and disaster resilience
across the entire Australian Aid Program, as well as implementing the Prime
Minister’s commitment to invest AUD 1 billion over five years in climate
resilience and emission reduction measures in developing countries, with a
focus on the Indo-Pacific. DFAT works bilaterally, regionally and with
multilateral banks and funds. DFAT’s longstanding partnerships with Australian
and international non-government organisations (NGOs) are key.
The stability and security of our region is second only to the defence
of Australia and so stability, security and prosperity are the drivers of our
overseas development assistance in the Pacific and a very important component
of this is food security and effective fisheries coastal management plays a
vital role in ensuring this.
Coalition Senators note the Commonwealth is integrating climate change
and disaster considerations into all Australia’s overseas development
assistance investments across the Pacific through improved research and a focus
on resilience and risk reduction.
This support is in line with the Framework for Resilient Development in
the Pacific, which is a great example of regional coordination- with SPC, a
lead author alongside SPREP, the University of the South Pacific, the Pacific
Islands Forum Secretariat and UN agencies.
Coalition Senators believe states and territories should consider
strategies contributing specialist resources to offshore emergencies, including
those generated by climate change.
Senator Linda Reynolds CSC
Senator David Fawcett
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