“There’s literature on the challenges that climate change presents for national security going back to the 1980s, but that was much broader and speculative,” says Associate Professor Cassandra Star. “Now it's much clearer what some of those challenges are likely to be.”
Associate Professor Star leads the Climate and Sustainability Policy Research (CASPR) group at Flinders and, while she is a scientist by original training, in the multi-disciplinary world of climate change research her work is concentrated on the interface between politics and the policy process, and the subsequent impact of these dynamics on policy formulation.
Associate Professor Star is particularly interested in environment movements, what makes their advocacy less or more effective and how they attempt to influence the policy process.
The other side of her work advises policy makers on the best approaches to deal with a heating planet. Part of that is helping anticipate and understand the broader impact of the disruptions we can expect as the climate changes and the challenges of making good policy to respond to those impacts.
Associate Professor Star is currently working on a program of research with CASPR colleagues, funded by the Department of Defence, which she calls the Climate Resilience Project.
While climate-related defence challenges in the Northern Hemisphere centre on issues such as the potential for ice-free winter navigation of the Arctic Ocean, in the Australian neighbourhood they are more about the situation as nations in the Pacific face potential oblivion.
The project seeks to understand climate resilience in the Indo-Pacific, and what our neighbours might do to improve their climate resilience. It provides guidance to other institutional partners and players about how preparations can be strengthened ahead of a warmer future to minimise political and security impacts.
“Obviously the role for Defence in terms of national security isn’t about prevention – that’s someone else’s job – it is about response. So one of the challenges is about how to prepare for problems while making the best of government’s resources and institutional capacity.”