The changing value of Antarctica to Australia’s security policy

Isabelle Bond, James Mortensen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Antarctica is a crucial regulator of the world’s climate, and as environmental security permeates global security, using Antarctic science to better understand climate is becoming increasingly pressing. Although the Australian Government has recognised that climate change poses ‘a current and existential national security’ threat and has acknowledged Antarctica’s importance regarding the earth’s global climate system, the focus of Australia’s intelligence community pertaining to Antarctica currently remains restricted to upholding the military-security and diplomatic goals of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). This current focus aims to hedge against the possibility of conflict on, or over, the frozen continent via ‘working the ATS’, however, this paper argues that Antarctic climate science holds a greater capacity to deliver security outcomes for Australia. Antarctic climate science offers opportunities regarding intelligence for Antarctica, that is, securing Australia’s Antarctic interests, as well as regarding intelligence from Antarctica; by enhancing natural disaster preparedness, bolstering broader strategic planning, as well as furthering diplomacy and the legitimisation of Australia’s leadership on, and over, the frozen continent. It is recommended that the Commonwealth Government establish a climate intelligence working group to ensure the utility of climate science to security and intelligence is realised.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)299-316
    JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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