Op-Ed

Dropping out of Paris Accord right thing for U.S. workers

On June 1, President Trump announces that the United States will pull out of the Paris Accord.
On June 1, President Trump announces that the United States will pull out of the Paris Accord. Associated Press

President Trump and I are committed to supporting policies that grow jobs and stimulate the economy. The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accord reflects this administration’s commitment to promoting pro-growth principles and rebuilding America’s manufacturing base. Keeping jobs here in America is good for workers. Economic independence, likewise, is a national security matter.

American workers are not afraid of sacrifice. I know that as well as anyone. I watched my parents, immigrants from Cuba, sacrifice to give their son a better life in a new country. Millions of American workers make similar sacrifices every day. But the Paris climate accord asks American workers for a sacrifice they should not have to make, forcing them to foot the bill on climate change while letting foreign nations and companies benefit.

The Paris accord is a bad deal for American workers and their families. According to a NERA Consulting study, the accord would have resulted in 6.5 million lost jobs, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs. Losses in the coal industry, which employs tens of thousands of workers often in America’s poorest communities, would have been especially severe.

Those job losses are the result of the prior administration’s decision to volunteer America to take responsibility to offset other countries’ pollution. Under the Paris Accord, each country volunteered how much it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama volunteered the United States to reduce its emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent by 2025. The Obama administration could achieve that only by enacting its Clean Power Plan, which the U.S. Supreme Court quickly blocked as potentially illegal.

But other countries did not volunteer to make similarly significant reductions. In fact, China’s commitment allows it ramp up its emissions for the next decade. India agreed to reduce emissions under the Paris accord only if other countries donate billions of dollars in foreign aid to offset the cost to the Indian economy. And Brazil’s promise allows it to increase industrial greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 2005 levels.

Placing the burden of fighting climate change squarely on American workers is unfair. That is true especially because the United States has already substantially cut back its greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions by 12 percent since 2006, even as other countries have increased their emissions. Other major emitters should make comparable efforts before American workers are asked to make additional sacrifices.

The Paris Accord asks these sacrifices of American workers as a mere symbolic gesture. Researchers at MIT have estimated that, even if all parties to the accord meet their commitments, global temperatures will be reduced by a mere .2 degrees Celsius by 2100. This token reduction does not justify millions of lost American jobs. We can negotiate a better deal for American workers.

President Trump and his administration remain committed to world leadership on climate issues. That leadership can and will be exercised consistently with protecting American workers. President Trump’s choice to put U.S. workers first and to renegotiate a sensible, effective, and fair climate deal is the right decision for the United States and our working families.

Alex Acosta is the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

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