President Donald Trump recently withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement, a landmark pact to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This decision will negatively affect America’s national security, economic stability, environmental interests, and status as a world leader.
At a national level, the U.S. Department of Defense has been aware of climate change as a catalyst for instability and a threat to security. When Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, current Defense Secretary James Mattis highlighted the challenges climate change posed that the military would be called upon to address, such as rising sea levels and increasing natural disasters. Furthermore, in a 2015 report, the Pentagon identified additional risks such as drought, refugee flows, and decreased Arctic ice cover — which are all results of global climate change threatening security.
As the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, the Pentagon is trying to find solutions to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels while incorporating renewable energy sources to its portfolio. But the withdrawal will only make such solutions more elusive, and reflects a misalignment of national security interests.
Withdrawing from Paris also obstructs America’s economic growth, and demonstrates the disconnecting views on climate change between our government and business markets. The day before Trump’s announcement, shareholders for Exxon Mobil voted that the oil and gas company analyze and report the impacts of climate change on its business. This is important because institutional investors are raising concerns of climate change to businesses and how it is impacting their return on investment.
Meanwhile, businesses in Detroit are also looking for ways to reduce climate change. General Motors will power its entire operations globally with renewable energy by 2050. The company already saves $5 million a year from its use of renewable energy. And DTE Energy is committed to reducing its carbon generation 80 percent by 2050, along with retiring all coal plants within its portfolio by 2040. America shrinking from the duty of shaping carbon reduction with other nations will create a missed opportunity for outstanding leadership and economic growth in the United States.
Joe Tate is a political partner with Truman National Security Project.