Chris Bowen warns global heating will fuel political instability in annual climate statement
Parliament to hear increased fragility of energy networks could be used by hostile actors amid existential national security risk to Pacific neighbours The climate change minister, Chris Bowen , will declare runaway global heating remains a national security threat and predict that countries vulnerable to sea level rise will look to Australia to provide mobility with dignity as the climate crisis deepens. Bowen will tell parliament on Thursday that extreme weather events caused by climate change will also place increased strain on Australias energy networks, warning this fragility could be used by hostile actors. The government has refused to release a secret report from the Office of National Intelligence on how the climate crisis will fuel national security threats. But Bowen will highlight national and regional security risks in his annual climate statement on Thursday, arguing it will help fuel further global political instability. The Albanese government is required under legislation to make a statement to parliament about progress towards achieving Australias emissions reduction targets, and also report on relevant international developments. An independent assessment of progress by the Climate Change Authority will also be tabled in parliament on Thursday, as will updated emissions projections covering its first full year in office. A snapshot of emissions projections released by Bowen last weekend suggests Australia will likely cut its CO2 pollution to 42% below 2005 levels by 2030 which is nearly in line with the governments 43% reduction target. Bowen will tell parliament on Thursday climate change presents serious risks to Australia and poses an existential national security risk to our Pacific partners. The minister will note security risks intensify the further warming targets are exceeded. Sign up for Guardian Australias free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup Bowen will warn the relationship between the level of warming and the security threats faced is not linear because threats compound and expand exponentially the hotter the planet becomes. Climate change will likely accentuate economic factors already fuelling political instability, including risks to water insecurity across the globe. The accompanying report to parliament prepared by Bowens department warns that allowing warming beyond existing targets could cross asyetunseen thresholds and trigger abrupt, cascading impacts such as the destabilisation of ice sheets leading to rising sea levels and melting permafrost releasing massive amounts of CO2 and methane far exceeding global greenhouse gas budgets. It says climate change is likely to worsen global problems caused by rapid population growth, corruption, poor governance, weak infrastructure and conflict ... [and] likely drive migration and displacement both within Australia and in many regional states, increasing the risk of ethnic or sectarian tensions or conflict over scarce land or water resources. Sign up to Afternoon Update Our Australian afternoon update breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you whats happening and why it matters after newsletter promotion It notes nations most vulnerable to sea level rise will likely to look to Australia and other countries for closer economic integration, including through migration and expanded labour schemes which Bowen categorises as mobility with dignity, citing Australias landmark agreement with Tuvalu offering residency to people affected by climate change. Bowen will tell parliament the risks to national security adds to the need for strong action this decade, and reinforces the importance of our domestic transformation and international engagement. In a reference to the partisan pushback against the governments strategy for the net zero transition by the Liberal and National parties, Bowen will say Australia will not sit on its hands, pause the transformation and expect to deploy speculative solutions in 2049 to address a climate emergency that is with us now. While the Coalition is criticising Labors agenda to add more renewables to the grid and roll out more transmission infrastructure as part of the net zero transition, the Greens and environmental groups have criticised Labors approval of more coal and gas projects. An analysis commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation suggests total emissions resulting from fossil fuel export projects up for approval under the Albanese government could be significantly greater than the emissions reduction within Australia by 2030. Bowen will travel next week to the United Arab Emirates to attend UN-led climate talks . In the lead-up to Cop28, Bowen has argued Pacific nations and other countries vulnerable to climate catastrophe should be the major beneficiaries of loss and damage funding, and a broader range of countries should bankroll the international effort along with the private sector.