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PA Businesses Condemn Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

Renewable energy is generating jobs at five times the rate of overall U.S. job growth. (dfbphotos/Flickr)
Renewable energy is generating jobs at five times the rate of overall U.S. job growth. (dfbphotos/Flickr)
June 6, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Some Pennsylvania business owners say President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement to combat global climate change will damage, not help, the U.S. economy. Trump said the Paris accord would drain billions from the U.S. economy and cost American jobs.

But according to James Spencer, president and chief executive of Everpower, a Pittsburgh-based onshore wind-energy development company, renewable energy, not fossil fuels such as coal, is where current and future economic growth and jobs will be found.

"Job growth in the renewable-energy sector is at least a multiple of five times greater than annual job growth in the United States," he says.

In contrast to Trump administration energy plans, China will be investing $360 billion in renewable energy by 2020, creating an estimated 13 million jobs.

Kjerstin Klein, the owner of Willi's Ski Shop in Pittsburgh, says the effects of climate change already are being felt. For most of her business' 40 years, they could rely on certain weather benchmarks to predict what they needed to order for the coming season.

"That has literally just absolutely been thrown out the window the last couple of years," she says. "We can't rely on any of the numbers, any of the figures, any of the forecasting tools we used to use."

Spencer believes that in withdrawing from the Paris agreement, the United States as a nation is abdicating a leadership role in renewable energy. However, he is optimistic that the states will take the lead.

"There's a recognition in many 'red states' that high job growth is coming from the renewable-energy sector, both in terms of wind energy, solar energy, demand-side management - and I expect that to continue," he explains.

Since Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris accord, the governors of 12 states and Puerto Rico have committed to upholding the terms and goals of that agreement.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA