President Trump recently announced the United States will be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, the international treaty on preventing global temperature rising above 2 degrees, signed by 195 countries back in 2015. This places the United States in the dubious company of other non-signatories Nicaragua, who refused to sign as they believed the treaty was not powerful enough, and Syria, who was busy fighting a nationwide civil war. In his speech, which was widely noted to be full of errors and misrepresentation, Trump stated that the deal was “A very bad deal for [the US]” and that he would “bring those coal jobs back”. The problem is, the market doesn’t want his coal jobs, and not even the President can bend the free market to his will.
As noted in Ian Verrender (article link below), the withdrawal announcement was met with derision by American Industry, including petroleum giants ExxonMobil and Conoco Phillips. The United States has moved on, there is now a consensus in the business community that global warming is a reality and that we must move away from traditional fossil fuels. The demand does not exist for these fossil fuels, but more importantly the reason these industries declined in the U.S. has far more to do with their lack of international competitiveness than it does any renewables policy.
Additionally, renewables is the new growth sector for the economy, with 880’000 people employed in manufacturing and another 2.2 million is research and design in the U.S. alone, far more than were employed by the coal industry at its peak in the 1970’s. The United States has long been a world leader in research, design and innovation, and currently continues to be so in the renewables sector. By rejecting the renewables sector and encouraging the return to outdated coal mining, the President is not only encouraging less sustainable business practices for his country, he is ensuring their irrelevance in the future renewable based economic marketplace.