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Pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change will become one of the greatest economic blunders by a U.S. president in our lifetimes.

People can disagree about the scientific premise behind climate change, but it’s an inescapable fact that the world is driving ahead to replace carbon energy with clean energy anyway. That makes advanced energy technologies one of the biggest business opportunities of the next couple of decades. The companies and nations that take the lead will become the next economic superpowers.

President Trump said that he is pulling out of the agreement because it would cost American jobs. But while he might save a relatively small number of coal and oil jobs, he is harming the nation’s chances to create vast numbers of advanced energy jobs.

Many coal and oil jobs are eventually doomed anyway — those industries have a limited future as the world leaves carbon behind. Advanced energy jobs will multiply year after year. If the U.S. doesn’t capture that work, other nations will.

Chart courtesy of Forbes and Statista

Companies gain market leadership because they thrive on local markets first and then become global. This is what happened in China with solar panel manufacturing — the government spent heavily to create a local market for the technology.

It pumped $89.5 billion into the industry in 2015 alone, and in January 2017 its National Energy Administration announced it would spend $360 billion through 2020 on renewable energy. As Chinese companies have perfected the process and scaled up manufacturing, they were in position to dominate solar panels around the world. Today the three biggest solar makers are based in China: Trina Solar, JinkoSolar and JA Solar. 

If ending our participation in the Paris Accord slows the U.S. advanced energy market, our American companies will be at a huge competitive…

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