Ex-Military Brass Back Tillerson, Mattis in Climate Fight

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.

Stay or Go

Trump, who has called global warming a hoax, has derided the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. The president has said he would make his decision regarding the agreement by the end of the week, and several of his top advisers are pushing him to exit, including chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Leaders in Europe and elsewhere, meanwhile, have called on Trump to honor the agreement, which calls on nations to reduce their use of fossil fuels and limit global warming causing gases.

Businesses have weighed in too. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and dozens of other top U.S. technology, manufacturing and consumer goods companies took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times Monday in support of the agreement. And more than 200 investors with more than $15 trillion under management wrote to Trump and the heads of other members of the Group of Seven nations, urging political leaders to keep their commitments to the Paris deal.

“Investors are willing and ready to work with governments to facilitate the changes that are needed to improve the pricing of climate related financial impacts, and to mobilize the capital flows that are required to underpin a strong and resilient financial system,” they wrote.

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