June 1st, 2017 will be one for the history books. This was the day that the administration of the United States announced the withdraw from the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement for purely political purpose and partisanship. This move does not position the USA at the back of the line but removes us from the room all together which will have major economic and environmental implications for decades to come. All of this was based on mis-information, skewed data and blatant lies to appease a political base without taking into consideration that many of those in that base will be hardest hit by environmental disasters such as pollution and rising sea levels all on the promise of creating jobs in industries that will never recover in this country including coal.
One of the most short-sighted follies is the statement that the Paris Agreement on climate change was disastrous for U.S. businesses and that it will shutter many factories and create massive job loss. Why this is so inaccurate is every major economic think tank in the U.S. and the Congressional Budget Office disagree with these statements. I know we know live in a world of Alternative Facts with a platform for many politicians to tell bald-faced lies to the public.
Here are some claims by the president and what is in the agreement:
DT: We will pull out of the agreement and then re-negotiate a “better deal” to get back in.
Fact: There is no re-entry and no renegotiating.
DT: The Paris Agreement would cause massive job losses, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminish economic production.
Fact: Renewable Technology sector is currently growing 12x faster than any other manufacturing sector in the US. The number of shuttered factories that have re-opened and re-tooled to accommodate green tech has seen some major leaps and bounds as companies are re-patriating manufacturing back to the US due to wages and costs increasing overseas. Additionally, many states are offering tax breaks and other incentives to companies for re-tooling efforts geared towards clean energy production.
DT: China is allowed to build new coal-fired plants but the U.S. is not.
Fact: Every nation in the Paris Agreement determines their own energy mix so long as the total reduction does not increase temperatures 2⁰C below pre-industrial levels. Nothing prohibits the U.S. from building new coal power plants and there are even new ones coming on-line this year with new emissions reducing technology built by the green tech sector here in the US. China is indeed moving forward with some coal plants but is also massively offsetting these with billions in solar, hydro-electric, and wind farms which, by 2030, will reduce its carbon emissions 60-65 percent below 2005 levels and increase its share of renewable energy usage to 20 percent of production or better.
DT: Implementation of the Paris Agreement will only reduce the temperature by 0.2 percent — far below the stated target.
Fact: The Paris Agreement does not start from nothing but instead builds on the other past agreements such as the 2009 Copenhagen Accord to reach the total aggregate of 2⁰C below pre-industrial levels. Additionally, it strengthens components of those past agreements and renews others that were set to expire.
DT: At 1 percent economic growth as we have seen in the past decade renewables may work. But with economic growth at 3-4 percent we need all options for energy on the table not just clean power.
Fact: The previous administration very clearly had an all the above policy when it came to energy production including gas, oil and coal. In fact, oil production and exports have far exceeded any level in the history of this country rather than us importing from the Middle East or South America. This has created a massive glut in the market providing for market-demand lower prices for oil, gas and coal yet renewables are still far less expensive and second and third generation technology with increased scalability and efficiency coupled with advanced storage technology have made it the option of choice by consumers furthering the glut on the market of other non-clean sources. This has slowed production of gas and coal. However, the major energy producers including Exxon, British Petroleum, and others, have invested over a trillion dollars in being energy companies that include massive amounts of renewables. It has been great for their bottom line and for their brand for social welfare initiatives.
So what does all of this mean for the ICT industry? Well for starters, we are already leaders in the production of solutions that work within the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) industry which is a major player in clean tech for the built environment. Previous articles I have written outlined how these innovations are driven by an increased demand by American and foreign consumers and to improve operating costs increasing profitability for corporations and manufacturers alike.
We have already seen moves by states like California, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Ohio and others who are pushing back on the Administration’s decision and increasing their commitments to the Paris Agreement targets California is probably the most important as it is a third of the US economy and has the toughest environmental laws on the books in the country. It has the fastest job growth in the all sectors but especially clean tech, has one of the lowest unemployment rates, and has the healthiest state economy of any in the Union. They are a model in the U.S. of how beneficial this is to the economy as a whole.
Other European allies are way ahead of the US even prior to this decision such as Germany, Denmark, Sweden and others. This decision will see these countries step into the leadership role that we had assumed under the last administration and the result will be the US being left behind with little change to regain our footing should the next administration change direction. Even the new president of France and the prime minister of Canada have offered American companies the opportunity to move to to their countries and operate there in a clean energy economy.
Now the potential safety valve is that we can’t just stop being in the agreement overnight. There is a four-year mortarium of withdraw as part of the agreement and depending on many other factors in this administration may result in new leadership sooner rather than later but we can’t wait for that. It is up to the states, corporations, and individuals to continue down the Paris Agreement path even if the federal government fails us. Other countries have now publicly rebuked this administration for this decision and have doubled down on their commitments. It is up to us to do the same because one the water is gone, the animals have died and the trees are all wither you will soon see that you can’t eat money.