Letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from The Center for Climate and Security asking him to remain firm in his support for combating global warming as the Trump administration considers exiting the Paris climate accord. Graphic: The Center for Climate and Security

By Joe Ryan and Jennifer A Dlouhy
8 May 2017

(Bloomberg) – A group of retired senior military officers is urging U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis to remain firm in their support for combating global warming as White House officials consider exiting the Paris climate accord.

The 17 veterans argue that climate change poses a critical national security risk and say the U.S. must remain engaged in the international effort to fight it, according to letters sent Monday to Tillerson and Mattis. Among the signatories are three four-star veterans, including former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Sam J. Locklear.

The ex-officers are the latest to call for the U.S. to uphold its environmental commitments as President Donald Trump’s senior advisers were preparing to meet Tuesday to debate whether to exit the Paris accord. Tillerson and Mattis are among those pushing the president to stick with the agreement, brokered in 2015 by almost 200 nations. The letters were sent by the Center for Climate and Security, a Washington-based research institute.

The meeting of top administration officials has now been postponed from Tuesday because of a conflict with Tillerson’s schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter. Trump pledged a “big decision” on the deal within two weeks during an April 29 rally in Pennsylvania.

“Climate change poses strategically significant risks to U.S. national security, directly impacting our critical infrastructure and increasing the likelihood of humanitarian disasters, state failure and conflict,” the former officers and security officials wrote in the letter to Tillerson. [more]

Ex-Military Brass Back Tillerson, Mattis in Climate Fight


The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

As you affirmed during your confirmation hearings, climate change poses risks which must be addressed multilaterally, and it is important that the US remain engaged in conversations on how to minimize those risks.

As retired military and national security leaders, we know that climate change poses strategically
significant risks to US national security, directly impacting our critical infrastructure and increasing the likelihood of humanitarian disasters, state failure, and conflict. The Department of Defense and the intelligence community have been aware of this “threat multiplier,” and taking actions to address it, since the early years of the George W. Bush Administration. However, addressing these security issues is going to primarily be a civilian-led exercise. As Secretary Mattis himself recently stated, “…climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response.” The State Department’s role in that whole of government response will be crucial in the days, months and years ahead.

That role involves acting as a leader on the issue among the international community – not least as that leadership can aid us in advancing our other vital security interests. This includes leadership in all important international forums where climate risks are being discussed and addressed. Among these, the G7 is an important entity for driving practical climate risk management. The G7’s Climate Fragility Working Group’s analysis of instability risks and description of commensurate policy responses, as well as its coordination work to implement these policies within G7 governments, are particularly important given that they directly relate to our national security interests.

A strong signal in the communiqué that G7 governments are committed to maintaining agreements to address climate security risks would lay the foundation for a structured and deliberate response to the phenomenon, and its attendant impacts on the global security environment. We are also supporting Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ leadership on addressing climate change risks, and encouraging him to work closely with you, and our partners and allies, to proactively get ahead of this challenge before it becomes unmanageable. We hope that you consider such a partnership as an important step in preparing the United States for this new geostrategic reality.

Respectfully,

Admiral Frank L. “Skip” Bowman, US Navy
(Ret)

Former Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

General Ron Keys, US Air Force (Ret)
Former Commander, Air Combat Command

Admiral Sam J. Locklear III, US Navy (Ret)
Former Commander, US Pacific Command

Sherri Goodman
Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense

Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw, US
Marine Corps (Ret)

Former Chief of Staff, US Central Command

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, US Navy (Ret)
Former Inspector General, US Department of the
Navy

Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, US Air
Force (Ret)

Former Deputy Commander-in-Chief, US Strategic
Command

Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, US Navy (Ret)
Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy,
Installations and Environment

Brigadier General Joseph R. Barnes, US Army
(Ret)

Former Assistant Judge Advocate General, US Army

Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, US Marine
Corps (Ret)
Former Inspector General, US Marine Corps

Brigadier General Gerald E Galloway, US Army
(Ret)

Former Dean of Academic Board, US Military
Academy at West Point

Rear Admiral Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., US
Navy (Ret)
Former Commander, Navy Region Southwest

Rear Admiral Ann C. Phillips, US Navy (Ret)
Former Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group
TWO

Rear Admiral David W Titley, PhD, US Navy
(Ret)

Former Oceanographer of the Navy

Rear Admiral Jonathan White, US Navy (Ret)
Former Oceanographer of the Navy

Joan VanDervort
Former Deputy Director, Ranges, Sea, and Airspace
(Readiness)

Colonel Thomas F. Watson, US Air Force (Ret)
Former Director, Infrastructure Coordination and
Analysis Office, Department of Homeland Security

Colonel Thomas Watson, US Air Force (Ret)
Former Director, Infrastructure Coordination and
Analysis Office, Department of Homeland Security

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, US Army (Ret)
Former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin
Powell

The Center for Climate and Security

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