Critics of the Paris global climate deal say it’s a job killer that would hurt the economy. Some estimate that the deal will wipe out anywhere from 400,000 to 6.5 million jobs.
But that’s not what American businesses believe.
Dozens of CEOs have been lobbying President Donald Trump to stay in the deal, and they’re not just the Silicon Valley types — they’re from utilities and industrial giants and even oil companies like Exxon Mobil.
At his annual meeting Wednesday, Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods reiterated his support for the Paris agreement, which calls for nations around the globe to cut carbon emissions.
The reason: All of these companies want to sell the new technology and energy sources, such as natural gas, that are needed to cut carbon emissions. And they want the United States government to participate in the global negotiations about how that will be achieved.
“U.S. companies are well positioned to lead in these markets,” said a letter recently sent to Trump by CEOs of 25 major companies, including electric utilities such as PG&E and National Grid. “Withdrawing from the agreement will limit our access to them and could expose us to retaliatory measures.”
The deal’s supporters say there is little upside for businesses if the U.S. withdraws, and a lot of risks.
“The world is going to decarbonize. And there’s a lot of money to be made there,” said Ray Kopp a vice president with Resources for the Future, a Washington Think Tank concentrating on energy issues. “There are decisions to be made that will change asset values and move trillions of dollars around the globe. The only voice these businesses will have is their government. If their government has no voice, they have no voice.”
But critics say the deal will drive up the cost of energy and transportation, which in turn will raise costs for both businesses and consumers and hurt the economy. Staying in the climate deal will cost the U.S. economy 400,000 jobs over a decade, according to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. A separate study being cited by Sen. Ted Cruz estimates that 6.5 million industrial jobs would be lost by 2040.
“I view [withdrawl] as a win for the economy and the American worker,” said Stephen Moore, a Trump campaign economic adviser and CNN contributor who is a fellow at Heritage.
But the CEO letter to Trump specifically calls out the job opportunities that come with the deal.
“By expanding markets for innovative clean technologies, the agreement generates jobs and economic growth,” it says.
Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy agrees. “If you’re interested in jobs and economy, you ought to look at clean energy. That is where the job growth is,” she said on CNN Wednesday. “Listen to the hundreds of CEOs … who are telling the president instead of abandoning the issue of climate change, he ought to double down. We’re going to be ceding our ability to actually accrue the benefits of technology development by allowing other countries to provide that leadership.”