Editorial: The market has sided with Paris agreement

Published 1:00 am Monday, June 12, 2017

To be clear, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was shortsighted and foolish.

The agreement recognizes that science has reached a clear and convincing consensus that the climate is changing and humans have a big impact on it. And it commits countries to make changes to reduce their carbon output in order to keep the average global temperature from rising to a tipping point where the damage can’t be undone.

Not agreeing to the global climate accord is a denial of science in favor of conspiracy theories and economic/political pressures from dirty energy lobbyists.

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Just how out of touch Trump’s decision is can be seen by the company we now keep: Only Syria, Nicaragua — and now the U.S. — are not signed on to the climate accord.

Pulling out of the agreement chips away at America’s standing as a world leader.

Fortunately, though, Trump’s move won’t seriously slow the country’s or the world’s move to clean energy.

The markets of America and the world have already spoken on climate change. They know it’s real and they know that they need to make long-range corporate decisions based on a smaller carbon footprint and trying to capture some of the growing green market.

To see just how much the private marketplace has committed to reducing harmful carbon emissions, consider this: A majority of shareholders of Exxon Mobil recently voted in favor of more detailed analyses of the risks posed to its business because of climate change and demands the company align with the Paris agreement. When the world’s largest oil and gas company falls in line to reduce climate change there is no turning back the clock, no matter what a U.S. president does.

Trump said he pulled out of the agreement to return coal jobs and produce more oil, gas and coal. Beyond the obvious question of why America would want to promote and increase the production and use of dirty fuels, the fact is that coal and other old-style energy jobs are not going to return in any meaningful numbers.

And while families that depend on a livelihood from coal are obviously worried about the changes in the marketplace, it must be remembered that there are only 50,000-70,000 coal-related jobs in the country. By comparison, Arby’s restaurants employs 74,000; Amazon employs 341,000.

Clean energy is producing new jobs at a rapid pace and our global competitors, including China, are doing all they can to create a booming economic future through clean energy.

Meanwhile, coal, gas and oil employment has declined and market forces will keep it from growing significantly, if at all.

The president may hope to gain some political points by withdrawing from the Paris agreement, but fortunately the effort to reduce the carbon usage in America and the world will march on without him.

— Mankato Free Press, June 6

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