American Security Project (ASP) is deeply disappointed by the recent statement from the Trump Administration that it is pulling out of the Paris Agreement. This action significantly impacts the security and stability of our nation; signaling to the rest of the world that the U.S. has turned its back on its global responsibilities. It undermines our role as a world leader. It undermines existing free market forces and business sense. And finally, it undermines global and national security. This action clearly goes against the economic and security interests of our country and will have serious consequences.
The Paris Agreement provides the basis for addressing the looming and current threats of global climate change while also maintaining U.S. credibility, stability, and security. Honoring our commitments in Paris is critical to remaining the leading voice on the international stage. By turning away from global responsibilities, the U.S. cedes its role as the global leader to other nations. In a time when countries like China and Russia are pushing their limits, there are a number of countries that would be more than happy to fill in the gap. The U.S. is missing an opportunity to show its commitment to retaining that leadership role. Maintaining our commitments in Paris is critical to remaining the leading voice on the international stage.
Businesses within the U.S. agree. A recent study found that the Paris Agreement could boost the world economy by $19 trillion. At the end of 2016, more than 360 companies and investors, including Starbucks, General Mills, and Hewlett Packard, wrote a letter to then-President-elect Trump urging him to “continue U.S. participation in the Paris agreement,” (and invest in) “low carbon economy at home and abroad.” Energy companies like ExxonMobil and ConocoPhilips have expressed their support for the Paris Agreement. According to Ceres, businesses supporting the Paris climate agreement represent over $3.7 trillion in annual revenues and employ 8.6 million workers. Even some coal advocates argue that the industry’s survival depends on such agreements and policy that will boost investment in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Businesses in the U.S. see an opportunity to grow with the market and retain the ability to compete with foreign markets. By leaving the Agreement, the U.S. is going directly against business interests.
The Paris Agreement also bolsters energy security in the U.S. By promoting the development of clean technology, the Agreement supports the natural transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner, sustainable alternatives. Many of the alternatives such as solar and wind are abundant in the U.S. and their development promotes energy security while also creating jobs for Americans. In 2016 alone, the American clean energy industry generated $200 billion in revenue and 1 out of every 50 new jobs was a solar job.
Beyond the concerns of ceded global leadership and missed business opportunities, climate change is a threat to national security itself. The impacts of climate change are already being felt from New York City to Mumbai. Rising temperatures and increasingly extreme weather have led to instability worldwide. These same changes impact the U.S.’ ability to respond to international and national disasters by straining resources and effecting training. BGen Steve Cheney USMC(Ret), CEO of ASP, notes that,
“Dozens of our military bases and stations, both in the United States and overseas, are threatened by rising seas and climate change. Ignoring this places them at risk, as we are already seeing encroachment by water and increased catastrophic weather. The Paris Accord was a milestone in mitigating this problem. Our withdrawal from this accord puts us in greater jeopardy worldwide.”
The Trump Administration’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement will lead to long term repercussions for the United States and the world at large. Ignoring climate change does not eliminate the threats of climate change; rather it magnifies them as we are left more vulnerable due to lack of planning and resiliency-building. The Paris Agreement is a key component in combating this existing and growing threat. Regardless of this decision, ASP will continue to be an advocate for action on climate change to protect both the environment, and U.S. security and credibility.