U.S. withdrawal from Paris Agreement is not the death knell for clean energy initiatives, say industry experts
President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement should not have a major impact on global clean energy initiatives, state S&P Global Ratings, Chatham House and Sund Energy. Discussing the issue at a CEPEC event, they also agreed that it should not create major barriers for the low carbon transition in China, Europe or other countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.
S&P Global Ratings’ Michael Wilkins, Head of Environmental & Climate Risk Research, continued: “The withdrawal from Paris, and by extension the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, represents America undercutting its own potential to lead the global development charge of new carbon reduction technologies. But it should not affect the movement globally. Furthermore, if the U.S. government’s intention is to revive the ailing coal sector and boost employment, the withdrawal seems misguided – especially given that around five times more job opportunities are now created in renewables sectors than in coal.”
The panel of experts agreed the decision neither prevents the continuation of multilateral climate and environmental initiatives globally nor impedes U.S. state-level clean energy drives.
Tanya Morrison, Senior Associate at Sund Energy, and special advisor at COP21, noted: “With the intention of seeking its own internationally-recognised climate deal, the State of California has become highly influential in setting carbon standards, which are likely to be adopted more broadly. Equally, some of the country’s largest corporations are establishing their own climate targets – or linking business strategies directly to the Paris Agreement. But, that is not to say that some investment decisions on clean energies will not be delayed – at a time when they ought to be accelerated.”
Kirsty Hamilton, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, discussed the
implications outside of U.S. borders: “There is a view that Trump is a ‘blip’ on the longer-term trend to low carbon energy and renewables. In fact, the axis driving change on climate is already shifting toward China, together with Europe with ongoing international pressure from newer political groups of countries such as the Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20), who are all looking to ratchet climate reduction commitments. The isolation of the US at the mid-year G20 summit on climate is a case in point.”
The V20 reflects countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, and represents around 700 million people. Morrison, however, pointed out that the U.S.’ withdrawal may mean reduced international funding for the V20 – in fact causing them to scale back renewable developments.
Wilkins added: “The East is already taking a leading position. China, for instance, is expected to invest an estimated $4 trillion in renewables before 2040. And S&P Global Ratings has found that almost a third of all green finance issuances are now originating in the Chinese market.”