Energy & Environment

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement, hurts America’s clean energy economy

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There’s a reason U.S. businesses big and small support the international climate agreement reached in Paris a year ago. 

Reducing carbon pollution and increasing the availability of clean energy creates jobs. It drives economic growth and creates new business opportunities.

{mosads}It helps prevent costly hits to our economy that come with every future drought, hurricane, storm and flood.

It also provides job security to hard-working Americans in every state in the country. Today, more than 2.5 million Americans work in clean-energy related jobs — manufacturing and installing solar panels and wind turbines; building cleaner cars and making our homes, offices and schools more efficient through smarter appliances, better furnaces and improved insulation, windows and doors.

There’s only one businessman-turned-world leader on the planet who doesn’t see the importance of the Paris accord as an economic policy as much as an environmental policy: President-elect Donald Trump.

Pulling out of the Paris plan, just as negotiators from nearly 200 countries meet in Marrakesh, Morocco, this week to hammer out next steps in implement the job-creating plan, is a horrible idea.

It runs completely contrary to what Trump promised to do — reinvigorate America’s economy, create jobs and make America great.

Any businessperson knows that for a business to grow, it’s imperative to identify market trends, innovate and capitalize on new opportunities. Hitching our country’s wagon to yesterday’s energy products while purposely excluding us from the next big energy opportunity is a recipe for economic disaster. 

In the past 15 years, the solar industry has doubled — seven times. The wind industry has doubled – four times. Many of those 2.5 million clean energy jobs in America didn’t exist a decade ago.

Unless we shoot ourselves in the foot and cede the market for clean energy to China, Mexico, India and other countries — we’re only getting started.

Other business people realize the economic folly of pulling out of the Paris accord.

Last year, companies ranging from corporate giants like, Coca-Cola Co. and Microsoft Corp. to small businesses like Energy Optimizers USA and Lenox Hotels, issued a statement supporting the Paris agreement and urging the United States to join it. 

Many of these same companies and others are now imploring President-elect Trump and to Congress reaffirm their commitment to the Paris climate agreement. 

Excluding the United States from the best energy opportunity in the world — the clean energy revolution — would be an embarrassingly bad start for a new U.S. president elected with a mandate to reviving our economy and create jobs.

It would cede leadership in the burgeoning clean energy industry to other countries. It would hurt millions of U.S. jobs. And it could result in overseas tariffs on U.S. goods.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for the office again, has said he wants the European Union to enact a tax of one to three percent on United States exports if President-elect Trump pulls the country out of the Paris climate agreement.

Such a tax, Sarkozy said, is only fair if United States — and U.S. companies — shirk their duty to do something about climate change, leaving other countries and companies to deal with our collective climate mess.  

Pulling out of the Paris agreement won’t make America great. It will make America a loser in the global clean energy economy.

Bob Keefe is executive director of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), a national, nonpartisan business group whose members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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