Drought affected ground.

Climate change driven pressures on resource availability and food and energy security: implications for national security

A report to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet - NSST Project PR09-0037 (September 2011, 59 pages)

  • 1 March 2012 | Updated 29 April 2014


Don Gunasekera, John Finnigan and David Newth


Executive summary (part of):

Conventional definitions of Australia’s national security recognise the problems posed by social unrest or failure of states, especially within our region. A series of factors contribute to such failure and these can be grouped under social, political and economic headings.

In this report we focus on the intersection between economic factors, especially food and energy availability, and social factors, especially inequality in wealth or purchasing power. Conflict between states over resources, migration and in some cases terrorism is also fundamentally linked to food and energy security.

Tensions triggered by negative conjunctions of these factors impact most severely on states with poor governance but we do not consider that dimension of the problem in this report.

We treat climate change as a threat multiplier, exacerbating problems which are already in the pipeline as a result of growing populations and economies. This is reasonable in the timeframe of this study which is out to 2050. Over longer periods, climate change is itself a first order threat.


Report contents:

  1. Introduction and scene setting
  2. State of food security
  3. State of energy security
  4. Climate change and food security: key results from recent quantitative analyses
  5. Climate change and energy security: key results from recent quantitative analyses
  6. The links between food and energy insecurity, climate change and national security
  7. Postscript: Limitations of Modelling and Future Work
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References