Several Economists Are Skeptical that the Move Will Help the U.S.
With the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord being championed by the White House as a win for jobs, some economists are saying the move will likely have little, if any, effect on employment.
The main point of contention has to do with the government’s belief that the U.S. should shift its focus towards the oil, gas, and coal industries, intent on reviving jobs in Rust Belt America and many other regions that have been hard-hit by changes in the economy.
But many economists are pointing out that it may be too late for those industries, and are saying that removing the country from the Paris agreement will negatively impact the chance to take advantage of a sector that has shown strong growth: Renewables.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the country already has more people employed in solar energy—with nearly 374,000—than it has working in coal, which only supports about 160,000 workers.
“Withdrawing from the Paris agreement is hardly going to create jobs in the U.S.,” said Cary Coglianese, a University of Pennsylvania professor and editor of the book Does Regulation Kill Jobs? in an interview with the Associated Press. “While specific environmental regulations can sometimes lead to job losses, they also can and do lead to job gains — with the result being roughly a wash.” (Source: Ibid.)
Beyond the numbers not quite matching up to the Trump administration’s projections of what coal and other non-renewable sources of energy can provide in terms of jobs, there’s also the belief that avoiding climate change could have an even bigger negative impact on employment down the road.
For instance, an increase in droughts and subsequent water shortages could delay economic growth. Rising seas could destroy low-lying farmland, or even cities. One report from the University of California, Berkeley projects that as much as 20% of the global economic output could be damaged by 2100. (Source: Ibid.)
While those projections are contested by many politicians and climate skeptics, the economists ultimately believe that the president’s claim that leaving the agreement will protect or create jobs is largely an empty gesture.
And in some worst-case scenarios, the eventual ramifications of ignoring climate change could prove to be far more disastrous for the American worker than the death of the coal industry.
“Analysts: Leaving climate deal likely wouldn’t add US jobs,” Times Colonist, May 31, 2017.