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The Economic Irony in Leaving the Paris Accord

Today, President Donald Trump made the horrible choice to pull America out of the Paris Accord, the first worldwide pact of all except two nations (Nicaragua and Syria) to attempt to stall the effects of climate change.

According to a Politico PDF of the White House’ talking points for leaving, the Paris Accord undermines the U.S. economy. The document states that it would effectively “decapitate” America’s coal industry, which accounts for one-third of U.S. electric power.

This decision is erroneous for a multitude of reasons, some being obvious and some not. Leaving this pact is obviously a crushing blow to the environment, and is a worrying sign for America’s global leadership.

Numerous CEOs and businesses railed against Trump’s choice. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who served on two of Trump’s business advisory councils, quit because of the decision to exit the treaty. In a letter that served as a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, 24 of some of the largest companies in the U.S. urged Trump to stay in the deal.

But the irony in leaving this treaty is that Trump is hurting what he vowed to protect by exiting: the economy. The energy industry is increasingly shifting towards renewable and clean energy, and moving away from traditional polluting sources of energy such as coal and oil. This move will only hurt the American economy.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, renewable energy development promotes investments in the U.S. economy. In 2012, wind power made up 42 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions, representing a $25 billion investment in the U.S. economy.

Leaving the Paris Accord will not stop the move towards cleaner energy. According to a May 31 Politico article, coal has fallen from more than 50 percent of the U.S. electricity market in 2000 to around 30 percent today, and market analysts say that share is likely to keep falling.

Trump said that he was elected to represent citizens from Pittsburgh, not Paris. But the only “America First” aspect about this decision is the fact that it places America squarely on the wrong side of not only history, but the planet.

It is a mistake to break off of this plan. Exiting will not save the coal industry, and it will certainly not save the jobs of those coal workers whom Trump rallied for during the election.

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