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Pro-Business Case for Staying in Paris

Some observers say the fastest path to job growth would be to stay in the Paris climate agreement. (Alfred Palmer)
Some observers say the fastest path to job growth would be to stay in the Paris climate agreement. (Alfred Palmer)
June 1, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Leaving the Paris climate agreement would put the United States behind, according to some energy market and job creation watchers.

Media leaks from the White House say President Donald Trump is leaning toward leaving the climate accord, but the administration has not confirmed this.

Han Chen, an international climate advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says internationally and here in the U.S., the fastest job growth is in clean energy.

She says energy efficiency and renewable energy sources have added 3 million new jobs.

"These are the fastest growing sectors,” she maintains. “It's not in traditional fossil fuels, so if we want to grow the economy in West Virginia and in other states, we've seen that clean energy jobs have been the strongest driver of that growth."

The coal industry and its political allies argue that the climate agreement is part of what they describe as a war on coal. But Chen says 1,100 U.S. companies have publicly declared that they favor the Paris accord.

She says these companies include some of the largest, most profitable and most forward-looking companies in the world.

"The revenues for these companies are over $3 trillion,” she points out. “They support Paris because it will be better for their risk from possible climate catastrophes. It's better for them in terms of job growth, and so on."

Critics of the Paris agreement argue that if the U.S. shifts away from fossil fuels, developing nations such as India and China would more than make up the difference by burning more coal.

Chen counters that's no longer accurate. She says India and China are shifting rapidly to renewable energy, and two of the world's largest economies are working hard to move workers out of the fossil fuel industries.

"Germany and in China, what they're doing is offering transition for folks who are working in traditional fossil fuels – and, in fact, China now leads the world in solar and wind," she points out.

Trump has tweeted that he will make a decision on the Paris agreement Thursday,

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV