Operation Free Campaign Manager Sydney Tate was featured in the Sun-Sentinel discussing the importance of the Paris Climate Agreement to U.S. national security. Views expressed are her own.
Four days before American history is made, the world will change the future for generations to come. On November 4, 2016, the UN Paris Agreement will enter into force. American leadership on this deal will show the global community our commitment to combating climate change and building a 21st century clean energy economy. With a presidential election four days after this landmark deal will become enforceable, our position of leadership will be put to the test.
Donald Trump pledges to “cancel” the Paris Agreement and drastically increase domestic production of fossil fuels that will progress climate change. Conversely, Hillary Clinton’s plan will honor the agreement—and make the United States the clean energy superpower of the world. Florida has the potential to determine the outcome of this election. It is important that we cast our votes for the candidate that will tell the world that we stand by our pledge to the Paris Agreement.
Maintaining our role in the Paris Agreement is integral to our global relationships and imperative to U.S. national security. Our national security depends on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Our military leaders agree that climate change is a serious threat that will weaken our economy, strain our military, create new conflicts zones, and have a big impact on our coastal communities. Currently, our society is dependent on oil—a source of energy that is essentially the driving force of climate change. The Paris Agreement will hold us accountable for our own energy choices at home and monitor our country’s efforts to mitigate climate change.
Through my work with veterans and clean energy, I have seen how the military is already leading U.S. efforts on tackling this challenge. Since defining climate change as a “threat multiplier” in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense has laid out the risks climate change poses directly to mission capability and developed a comprehensive roadmap to building a resilient fighting force. The military is replacing their need for oil and cutting their emissions with new clean energy technologies such as diverse fuel sources, more efficient vehicles, and solar power. The Paris Agreement is an additional tool to further their investment in climate change adaptation and reduce the overall burden on the military.
Some might argue that climate change isn’t real or that the United States shouldn’t take mitigating steps alone. Climate change, however, does not respect geographical borders; without a legally binding global commitment like the one reached in Paris, Florida will inevitably experience the devastating consequences of climate change firsthand in the coming decades. The sea level is continuously rising and catastrophic hurricanes threaten the state annually, most recently Hurricane Matthew. These effects will have significant repercussions for major southern cities, like Miami, and the tourism industry. Moreover, the entire country’s safety will be compromised when the military is required to redirect missions and funds to help rescue and rebuild our state.
Scientists and defense experts agree: there is no doubt that climate change is a real threat to our country. Our veterans, national security experts, and senior military officials all agree that we need to act now and we can’t do it alone. U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement is vital to keeping Americans safe at home and abroad. It is up to us to choose a president who understands just how important this deal is to our country’s security and our state’s future.
Sydney Tate is the Advocacy Manager for Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts that advocates for securing America with clean energy. Views expressed are her own.