By Fredrica Syren:
President Trump followed through on his threat to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement. It was signed by 195 countries in 2015 as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in average global temperatures to below 2 degrees. When it was needed more than ever, with reports of Arctic ice melting much faster than researchers expected, this one of a kind agreement was a huge breakthrough in international climate efforts.
One of the reasons the President is breaking the agreement is his argument that U.S. companies will have difficulty making money because of it. Of course, it’s the coal industry he wants to save. However, all over the world and even in the U.S., companies and businesses agree that there are many profitable business opportunities, and that reducing climate impact and enacting tougher environmental laws will not mean that making a business grow will be harder. Actually, many jobs are created with greener and more sustainable practices.
Take Sweden, this country has one of the most ambitious goals for emission reduction and plans to transition to a 100 percent renewable electricity system. And it still is one of the world’s most innovative countries. Swedish companies are growing and are at the top. They have successfully retained and reinforced their international competitiveness. Actually, emissions have decreased by 25% since the 1990s, while GDP has increased by 69 percent in Sweden.
Long ago, believing that there was an increased cost associated with companies’ climate efforts was common, but today most businesses and world leaders have come to realize that ambitious climate efforts present opportunities. What President Trump and, quite frankly, many other policy makers in the U.S. have failed to realize (but many other countries already have seen) is that a development in the renewable energy industry is linked to a significant fall in prices, which can lead to a dramatic increase in employment and growth.
The sad part is that unfortunately the U.S. will pay for global warming and climate change sooner or later. Already it is doing so with droughts, extreme storms and increased temperatures all over the country because of it. It’s way more expensive to act later. Since the President’s announcement of the withdrawal, many companies and business leaders have voiced how they welcome a stronger climate policy and more investment in renewable energy.