Withdrawal From The Paris Accord -- Not The Treatment For What Ails Us

As Donald Trump returns from his first trip abroad, I am appalled that the current administration stubbornly refuses to acknowledge what the rest of the world agrees is a looming global catastrophe. A toddler covers his eyes and says “you can’t see me,” to shut out reality, and we find that cute. When the president or the head of the EPA behaves that way it is reprehensibly irresponsible.

Over 97% of scientists worldwide, and nearly 200 scientific organizations, concur that the planet is warming, even faster than predicted, and that this phenomenon is caused by human actions. I don’t know about you, but if I were sick, had 97 doctors tell me I had an aggressive cancer and 3 say it was just an infection, I’d start chemotherapy.

There is no reasonable doubt that humans are the problem, and if there is a solution to be found in time to counteract the worst of our effects, it lies with us. The US has a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to step forward as a leader in that process, but the president refuses to do so.

Into the vacuum created by that refusal, European heads of state like Angela Merkel are stepping up. And thank God someone is. Her country is currently producing over 30% of its energy needs in renewables and remains firmly committed to the Paris Accord. Many other countries in Europe are making similar strides. In fact, the US is currently being outperformed in the percentage of its energy needs met by renewables, and its commitment to combat climate change, by such international powerhouses as Latvia and Estonia (total populations 1.9 million and 1.3 million, respectively).

It’s not like there’s no profit to be had in sustainable energy. The renewable energy sector is on pace to outperform fossil fuel investments in the very near future. It’s a field of increasing interest to investors, and with good reason. In January 2017 in the Guardian’s report report on the UN Investor Summit on Climate Risk, Bruce Watson reported that a solar project in Dubai that went online in 2016 was producing electricity more cheaply than natural gas, and in Morocco an offshore wind farm’s price is just $0.03/KwH. Fossil fuel is a dinosaur (excuse the pun) rapidly being priced out of the energy industry.

And renewables are a prime source of the jobs the Trump administration professes to care about. A study by the Environmental Defense Fund published in Fortune magazine in January of this year showed the wind and solar industries growing jobs at 12 times the rate of the rest of the economy. 70% of these jobs are in businesses with less than 10 employees—those American small businesses Trump says he cares so much about.

Clean energy creates jobs – lots of jobs. In the field of electricity production, “There are now more jobs in the U.S. in solar than in either oil and gas extraction or coal mining” according to Greg Kats of ARENA investments. Lara Ettenson, Director of the California Energy Efficiency Policy, Energy & Transportation program, agrees. In an article in NRDC she says “If you are a politician looking for ways to grow jobs for the long term in your community, clean energy is the path to take.”

“These jobs are widely geographically distributed, they’re high paying, they apply to both manufacturing and professional workers, and there are a lot of them,” says Liz Delaney, the program director at EDF Climate Corps, according to the Business Insider report by Dana Varinsky.

So why, then, are there so few Republican politicians investigating this opportunity for their constituents? Maybe because the fossil fuel industry contributes heavily to political campaigns, primarily Republican ones. And therein, I fear, lies the root cause for the head-in-the-sand stance. Big Oil money has bought a seat at the table and a voice in the policy making process. Reuters reported May 27 that “meetings were planned with chief executives of energy companies and big corporations and others about the climate agreement ahead of Trump’s expected announcement [of his decision].”

Indeed, as Trump returned from his trip abroad, Axios.com reported that he has already told confidantes he intends to withdraw from the Paris Accord, and has directed EPA director Scott Pruitt, a known longtime opponent of the EPA and the Paris Accord, to begin drumming up public response to support withdrawal from the agreement.

So I’ve decided to help the administration in its efforts to solicit public response and have conveyed mine to them―forcefully. I am asking you to do the same. Call the White House at (202) 456-1414 or (202) 456-1111. Call your elected representatives; you can use this website to find the contact information for them. Use the official EPA site to comment. Use any means you can to urge our “leaders” to put planet before profit for once in their lives. Because all of our lives depend on it.