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Last week, negotiators from 196 countries came together in Paris to agree to a historic climate agreement. As representatives of each of the four branches of the military — Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force — we know that climate change presents clear risks for American national security and stability around the world.

That’s why it was so important that the world agreed to a deal in Paris. If followed, it will set the world on a course to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases.

The agreement is a clear sign the world recognizes climate change as a real and growing threat to global security, and that we are already seeing its effects. In Paris, delegates often called for a strong agreement on climate change because of the threats that they perceived to their country’s national security. An American Security Project report from 2013 found that over 70 percent of the world’s governments viewed climate change as a security threat — and that number has only gone up since.

While no war is caused by temperature increases alone, the effects of climate change — drought, sea level rise, or extreme weather events — will amplify existing threats like hunger, poverty, refugee migration and resource conflicts. The American military will be called to intervene, and that means that we must prepare.

This global agreement will help — over time — prevent some of the most dire impacts from a changing climate, such as rising sea levels, stronger storms, and more extreme droughts and floods. Unfortunately, we know that the world is already seeing the effects of climate change, and even the most robust efforts to reduce emissions will not stop all warming. In some areas around the world, we see droughts, severe storms, sea level rise and extreme heat that are far outside historical norms: and these have led to security challenges.

That’s why it is important that this deal also includes increased financing for adaptation. It will help vulnerable nations fund the measures that they need to prepare for a changing climate. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement in the final days of the Paris negotiation that the U.S. would double its funding for climate adaptation was an important step toward sealing a deal. Adaptation aid is important as a way to ensure global security because it can address the threats presented by climate change before American troops have to be deployed.

A Paris deal, however, will only be as successful in staving off increased temperatures as the national and local actions taken to reduce the effects of climate change. Fortunately, we are confident that the U.S. is finally moving toward a cleaner, more resilient economy.

Over the past two years, we, and other members of the American Security Project, have taken part in a national tour that visited over 20 cities around the country to discuss the effects of climate change on security, and to see what is being done around the country to address climate change.

In our visits, we saw how the military is leading the way in both climate resilience and cleaner energy. Fort Carson, Colo., home of the 4th Infantry Division, is one of the Army’s posts moving to “Net Zero” status — it will have “net” of zero emissions. In Hampton Roads, Va., home to the world’s largest naval base, the Navy is preparing for sea level rise by building a more resilient community around the Norfolk Naval Station. In Las Vegas, a massive solar array on Nellis Air Force Base provides power to the base at a lower cost than the electric utility. At the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., the Marines have built the largest operational micro-grid in the Department of Defense — capable of operating the base should power fail in the local region.

The U.S. military knows that climate change presents risks to its operations, and officials are working to reduce that risk: a model for the rest of us to follow. Fortunately, we see that the government is finally moving that way also. In order to buttress clean energy across the country, the Environmental Protection Agency has finalized rules for the Clean Power Plan that will ensure that states move toward a cleaner, less polluting energy economy.

Ultimately, we know that meeting the challenge of climate change will not come from a signature on an international agreement. It will not come from any single nations. It will come from concerted action by individuals, companies and nations over many years. The Paris Agreement may be the time when the world’s leaders finally realized that the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action. They overcame national differences in an effort to make a risk-management plan that could eventually meet the challenge. The Paris Agreement deserves support.

John Castellaw is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general. Bob Gard is a retired Army lieutenant general. Lee Gunn is a retired Navy vice admiral. Norm Seip is a retired Air Force lieutenant general. They are members of American Security Project’s Consensus on American Security.

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