Paris Agreement: What is at Stake?

The Paris Agreement brings trillions in new investment and provides President Trump with his best opportunity to build a new American economy of durable prosperity. In his Inaugural Address, Trump pledged that the forgotten will no longer be forgotten.

Resource curse: Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will do nothing to create jobs or raise incomes in coal country. For coal communities, removing global leverage to push investment into a new economy will mean:

  • New investment for new business models will slow down or stop.
  • Boom-and-bust cycle will accelerate as coal fails to compete with natural gas, leaving communities languishing without jobs.
  • Pollution and health costs will both rise dramatically in vulnerable communities.

Mobilizing capital: The old industrial economy has failed to mobilize tens of trillions of dollars in capital:

  • $8.6 trillion tied up in negative yield bonds.
  • $5 trillion in corporate cash holdings.
  • $5 trillion per year in taxpayer-funded global support to high-polluting energy systems that return too little long-term value.

The Paris Agreement is designed very carefully to mobilize all of this untapped capital investment to ensure stronger national economies.

Leverage for leaders: The Supreme Court has already ruled that the administration must act to avoid climate disruption.

  • The Paris Agreement, for the first time, brings all nations into this effort.
  • It specifically requires that climate action be “respectful of national sovereignty, and avoid placing an undue burden on Parties”.
  • Congress and the administration have strong conservative policy options they can use to ensure strong US leadership.

Put simply: The Paris Agreement is leverage for President Trump to succeed in building the new American infrastructure he has promised.

Written by Joseph Robertson

Joseph is Global Strategy Director for the non-partisan non-profit Citizens' Climate Education. He is the lead strategist supporting the Acceleration Dialogues (diplomatic climate-solutions roundtables) and Resilience Intel—an effort to move the world to 100% climate-smart finance. Joseph represents CCL in the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, the UNFCCC negotiations, and other UN processes, and is founder of the Geoversiv Foundation and Democracy Witness—an online periodical promoting engaged, non-partisan civics. His articles appear from time to time in the Guardian.

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