By Mindy Lubber and Bob Keefe
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
But our would-be jobs president is risking millions of jobs and U.S. economic competitiveness with his short-sighted decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
More than three million American workers and counting now earn a living in the clean energy sector. The international clean energy market is worth an astounding $1.4 trillion a year. Delivering on the promise of the Paris climate agreement would unlock an estimated $19 trillion in economic growth globally.
By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, President Trump just told those three million American workers he doesn’t care about their jobs. He’s invited signatories to levy carbon tariffs on U.S. goods shipped overseas – a step the European Union and other countries are now considering.
And he has signaled he’s willing leave America on sidelines (alongside Syria and Nicaragua, the only other countries not part of the Paris Agreement) while other countries take leadership on climate and clean energy - and reap the economic rewards that come with it.
China, for instance, is investing at least $360 billion on renewable energy in the next three years. Already the world’s biggest producer of solar energy, China is now home to five of the six largest solar panel manufacturing firms. Two years ago, it overtook the United States as the largest market for electric vehicles. In turn, China has created millions of clean energy jobs, helping lead to an annual economic growth rate of nearly seven percent.
American businesses don’t want to play second fiddle to China or any other country. That’s why more than 1,100 companies signed a statement backing the Paris Agreement and low-carbon policies. It’s why more than 30 CEOs from Goldman Sachs to Dow Chemical Company to Procter & Gamble took out a full-page ad calling for continued U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement.
And it’s why, while President Trump was at the G-7 meetings in Italy last week, more than 365 business leaders and investors from large, medium and small businesses signed yet another letter imploring President Trump not to take away business opportunities by pulling our country out of the Paris Agreement.
Plain and simple, American companies know the Paris climate agreement is good for business. It’s a chance to ensure America leads in a thriving new energy sector, instead of falling behind competitors.
Unfortunately, President Trump didn’t listen to business leaders, his Secretary of State, or other clear voices of reason who advised him that pulling out of Paris will hurt our international relations, our economy and our environment.
Now it’s up to others to fill the void he’s left.
Congress can start by not agreeing to the drastic and draconian cuts President Trump has proposed for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – cuts that would eliminate the highly successful Energy Star efficiency program, DOE’s energy R&D programs, and slash funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across America.
States must continue to find ways to lead where Washington is failing us. While President Trump was pulling out of Paris, the California legislature pushed forward plans to get 100 percent of the state’s power from renewables. Other states are making similar moves because they know jobs, investments and a cleaner air and water come with it.
And business leaders must continue to lead by example by expanding their own sustainability efforts, demanding more clean energy for their factories and offices and making it known in Congress, in the states and on the international stage, that they support action on climate and clean energy.
Even if our president continues to ignore them.
Mindy Lubber is CEO and president of Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.
Bob Keefe is executive director of E2, a national nonpartisan group of business owners, investors and others who advocate for policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment.
Image credit: Zach Dischner, Flickr