Former defence and security officers signed an open letter to the Australian government on Wednesday, claiming that climate change is the “biggest threat to Australia’s future and security.”
Former defence officers wrote in the letter that they had seen firsthand the damage caused by war and disaster, but that climate change was the greatest “threat” confronting Australians.
“The first duty of government is to protect and safeguard the people,” the letter stated, “yet Australia has failed when it comes to climate change dangers.”
Political leaders were urged to devote resources and make climate change a “top emphasis,” according to the officials.
“Climate must be made an immediate security priority, at the top of the national agenda, with a commitment from all sides of politics to mobilise and take emergency action,” authorities wrote in the letter.
The Australian federal election is expected to take place by the end of May this year.
Heavy rains and record-breaking floods wreaked havoc on Australia’s eastern coast in early March, killing at least 20 people.
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Lismore, a community in northern New South Wales that bore the brunt of a two-week rainfall, Australians lambasted the federal and state governments’ responses to the disaster, with demonstrators demanding action.
“Coal and gas did this,” and “This is what climate change looks like” were among the signs held up by protesters.
“Because of these natural disasters, Australia is becoming a more difficult place to live in,” Morrison said during a visit to Lismore two weeks ago.
At the United Nations climate conference in Scotland last year, Australia, one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel exporters, pledged to net-zero emissions by 2050, which means lowering greenhouse gas emissions as near to zero as possible.
Morrison stated that he will not enact legislation to achieve the climate goal, instead relying on consumers and businesses to reduce emissions.
As global weather patterns change, Australia, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, has endured recurrent onslaughts of droughts, bushfires, warmer seas, coral devastation, and floods.