The closest man to Trump is a stealth climate believer

By Vera Bergengruen
August 08, 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Andrew Harnik AP


WASHINGTON-Step aside, Ivanka.

When it comes to climate change, the biggest influence on President Donald Trump may turn out to be his new chief of staff, John Kelly.

The retired four-star Marine general shares the military’s pragmatic view of global warming. Under Kelly’s command from 2012 to 2016, U.S. Southcom played a central role in Pentagon planning for the higher temperatures, more extreme weather and rising sea levels that it sees as threatening national security. Now advocates hope he will bring that view into the White House.

For more than a decade, military leaders have warned that climate change is aggravating social tensions, destabilizing regions and feeding the rise of extremist groups like al Qaida and the Islamic State.

[READ MORE: Trump may doubt climate change, but Pentagon sees it as a ‘threat multiplier’]

Kelly, whom Trump has called “the true star” of his administration, will be up against a cadre of Trump advisers and cabinet appointees who are either skeptics of or have actively tried to chip away at existing U.S. climate policy. Trump himself has frequently and openly questioned climate change, calling global warming “bullshit,” and “a hoax” that was “created by and for the Chinese” to hurt U.S. manufacturing.

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