Coal and Defence leaders demand "drastic" climate action

By Shannon Jenkins

June 4, 2019

Source: Getty Images

The end of human civilisation could come as soon as 2050, a new report warns.

Published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, the paper was written by David Spratt, a Research Director at the Melbourne centre, and  Ian Dunlop — whose resume includes past positions such as chairman of the Australian Coal Association and international oil, gas and coal industry executive. 

The analysis gives a dire warning of the future if policymakers continue with their “conservative” approach to climate change.

It’s a stark contrast to the anti-climatic aftermath of the so-called ‘climate election’.

Retired Admiral and former Chief of the Australian Defence Force Chris Barrie, who endorses the paper, says “human-induced global warming is the greatest threat to human life on the planet” after nuclear war.

“David Spratt and Ian Dunlop have laid bare the unvarnished truth about the desperate situation humans, and our planet, are in, painting a disturbing picture of the real possibility that human life on earth may be on the way to extinction, in the most horrible way,” he says.

Barrie calls for “immediate drastic action” from all levels of the community.

“We must act collectively. We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind,” he says.

“In particular, our intelligence and security services have a vital role to play, and a fiduciary responsibility, in accepting this existential climate threat, and the need for a fundamentally different approach to its risk management, as central to their considerations and their advice to government.”

The report echoes Barrie’s sentiment, suggesting a “wartime level of response”.

“The national security sector has unrivalled experience and capacity in such mobilisation, and can play a unique role in its development and implementation, as well as educating policymakers of the existential security risks in failing to do so,” it says.

A new approach to climate-related security risk-management is needed, the report argues. The worst possible scenarios must be considered, as climate change has become a near-to mid-term existential threat to civilisation.

“Climate change intersects with pre-existing national security risks to function as a threat multiplier and accelerant to instability, contributing to escalating cycles of humanitarian and sociopolitical crises, conflict and forced migration.”

The report says understanding the strengths and limitations of climate science projections, building a zero-emissions industrial system, and using risk-management frameworks are “essential”.

It made the following recommendations:

  • Recognise the limitations of policy-relevant climate change research which may exhibit scientific reticence.
  • Adopt a scenario approach, giving specific attention to high-end warming possibilities in understanding medium-range (mid-century) climate and security risks, particularly because of the existential implications.
  • Give analytical focus to the role of near-term action as a determinant in preventing planetary and human systems, reaching a “point of no return” by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.
  • Urgently examine the role that the national security sector can play in providing leadership and capacity for a near-term, society-wide, emergency mobilisation of labour and resources, of a scale unprecedented in peacetime, to build a zero-emissions industrial system and draw down carbon to protect human civilisation.
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