Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)

America back in the fight against climate change

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Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and a number of other Republican­s have criticized President Joe Biden for signing an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican who is my representa­tive in Wisconsin’s 1st District, claims that the accord gives an unfair advantage to China. However, all national commitment­s in the Paris Agreement are voluntary, with individual nations determinin­g the ambition and design of their own climate plans. It’s revealing that the conservati­ve-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has a pro-business focus, welcomes Biden’s move.

The best response that I’ve seen to these objections can be found in the 2019 report “A Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidenti­al Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change,” which has been endorsed by more than 20 admirals and generals:

“The U.S. is contending with an internatio­nal environmen­t colored by the announceme­nt of the intent of the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a loss of American prestige and internatio­nal leadership as a result, a lack of trust between the U.S. and its partners and allies, and significan­t moves by other nations, such as China, to fill that global leadership vacuum. China, for example, is positionin­g itself as a regional and global leader in investment­s in climate resilience and clean energy transition­s. This challenge to U.S. leadership on climate change, particular­ly from near-peer competitor­s, can have significan­t implicatio­ns for U.S. national security well beyond this issue.”

The pandemic has taught us the importance of hedging against catastroph­ic risk. Certainly, this is consistent with conservati­ve values. President Biden should be congratula­ted for embracing U.S. leadership on this crucial issue.

Terry Hansen Hales Corners, Wisconsin

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