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Tech Industry Groups Blast Paris Accord Exit

Solar panel installation


1 June 2017. President Trump’s decision, announced today, to withdraw from the international climate change agreement signed in 2015 received stiff rebukes from technology industry organizations. Both the Information Technology Industry Council and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation issued statements criticizing the withdrawal, but also noted that progress on climate change can continue despite the president’s action.

The climate change agreement, negotiated for 9 years under United Nations auspices, requires every nation taking part to develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change by the years 2025 and 2030. While there is no legally binding reduction level imposed on any nation, the agreement calls for countries to enact further reductions in future years. Participating countries are also required to reconvene every 5 years to discuss additional cuts in greenhouse gases. Up to today all but 2 countries, Syria and Nicaragua, approved the agreement.

President Trump’s announcement today achieves a campaign promise to cancel American participation in the agreement. But the president said he was willing to renegotiate another deal, “on terms that are fair to the United States,” according to the New York Times. “We are getting out,” the president added. “But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”

“This is clearly disappointing, and a setback for America’s leadership in the world,” says Dean Garfield president and CEO of Information Technology Industry Council in an organization statement. The statement cites a report issued in January by the Environmental Defense Fund that shows the clean energy industries in the U.S. employ some 4 million workers in jobs that pay $5,000 more than the median salary. In addition, jobs in solar and wind industries are expected to grow 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.

David Hart, a senior fellow at Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, also called the president’s action “very discouraging.” Hart points out in a statement from the group that “The United States’ abdication of global leadership will diminish confidence in the pact and discourage other nations from staying the course, while also making it more difficult for the United States to forge robust alliances with other nations on other issues of joint concern.”

Both Garfield and Hart express at least some hope that the technology industry can continue to pursue its clean energy businesses, despite the U.S. withdrawal from the climate change agreement. “Despite this,” notes Garfield, “the tech industry’s determination to innovate and problem-solve for the threats posed by climate change and generate clean energy opportunities that create jobs and grow our economy remains unchanged.”

Hart adds that, “if America prioritizes energy innovation, it can wrest back its leadership position and in so doing create thousands of jobs in advanced manufacturing, improve the country’s trade balance, and achieve climate goals for everyone’s benefit.”

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