Defense Secretary Richard Marles will state that India and Australia must work together to produce renewable energy technology and tackle climate change.
He will use a speech in New Delhi to highlight the Albanian government’s “renewed focus” on climate change as a strategic threat to be considered in defense planning.
“Australia and India are well aware that the security challenges we face could be magnified by the effects of climate change,” Marles told National Defense College students and leadership on Wednesday.
He will reaffirm Australia’s commitment to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, a defense and trade agreement with India signed by the Morrison government.
Mr. Marles, who is in India until Thursday, will propose that the two nations work together under the partnership to produce and install “ultra cheap” solar and clean hydrogen energy.
“As countries face growing energy demands, climate change, and volatile supply chains, the partnership between India and Australia has the potential to create security solutions for the security challenges we all face,” he will say.
Camera Icon Defense Secretary Richard Marles is in India this week to hold diplomatic talks with officials there. NCA NewsWire/David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
Marles, who has described India as a “top partner and close friend” of Australia, arrived in India on Monday.
He started the first full day of his trip with a yoga session in Goa before meeting up with local defense industry start-ups.
“I’m looking forward to a few full days, meeting my colleagues and seeing our close collaboration firsthand,” he wrote on social media Tuesday morning.
Mr. Marles is expected to fly to New Delhi on Tuesday evening and meet with the Indian Foreign Minister. He will formally meet with his Indian counterpart, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, on Wednesday.
Mr. Marles said earlier this week that Australia was ready to strengthen its ties with its Quad partner in support of an “open, inclusive and resilient” Indo-Pacific region, indicating that China will be a priority of its diplomatic talks.
“The rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is under strain as we face shifts in the geostrategic order,” he said.
Human Rights Watch has called on Marles to have a “candid conversation” with Indian officials about the “reality of growing abuse and discriminatory policies” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule.
The advocacy group’s acting Asia director, Elaine Pearson, said she hoped Mr. Marles would voice his concerns about using technology to curtail human rights and pass laws and policies that discriminate against religious minorities.
“A ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach will only encourage the Indian government to expand its repression,” she said.
“In terms of regional security threats, China’s growing influence in the region will be at the top of the agenda. But the human rights crises in Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka should also be high on the security agenda of Australia and India.”