RELEASE: U.S. Military and National Security Leaders Encourage Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis to Lead Together on Climate Change and Security
Washington, D.C., May 8, 2017 — The Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a policy institute with an Advisory Board of retired senior military officers and national security experts, today released two companion letters, one to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the other to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, encouraging them both to lead on addressing the security implications of climate change, and to work together in that effort. The letters were signed by a bipartisan group of senior retired military officers and national security officials with significant experience across Republican and Democratic Administrations (some of whom served directly with Secretary Mattis in the past). The letters come at a critical time, as the current Administration begins to plot its international engagement strategy on this important security challenge.
In the letter to Secretary Tillerson, the signatories call on him to show leadership in “all important international forums where climate risks are being discussed and addressed.” The full excerpt:
“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 includes 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. That includes leadership in all important international forums where climate risks are being discussed and addressed.”
The letter to Secretary Mattis applauds his recent leadership on the issue as demonstrated in his answers to the Senate Armed Service’s Committee’s Questions for the Record, while also encouraging him to work with Secretary Tillerson on combating these risks on the international stage. From the letter:
“To date, your leadership on this issue has been clear. We support you in continuing that leadership by maintaining and implementing a comprehensive DoD policy to adapt to a changing climate, to enhance the resilience of our armed forces, and to prepare for these risks in the global operating environment.”
“In a separate letter, we are also encouraging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to show leadership in all important international forums where climate risks are being discussed and addressed, and to work with you and our partners and allies to proactively address these risks. We hope that you consider such a partnership as an important step in preparing the United States for this new geostrategic reality.”
The letters show that the military and national security community views climate change as a strategically-significant risk. The current Administration should take serious note of that in their deliberations going forward. They also point to an opportunity for both Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis to work together on this challenge, and in doing so, demonstrate U.S. leadership on the international stage.
Read the letter to Secretary Tillerson: Here
Read the letter to Secretary Mattis: Here
To speak with a CCS expert and/or Advisory Board member on this topic contact: Francesco Femia, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-246-8612
Related material: The U.S. military has been planning for climate change impacts from as early as 2003, as expressed in this collection of documents.