December 2, 2019 / 11:06 PM / 12 days ago

Climate accord will fuel U.S. jobs, business and labor leaders say

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Top corporate executives and labor leaders on Monday issued a public plea for the United States to stay in the global pact to avert catastrophic temperature rises, arguing the battle against climate change would protect the nation’s economy and create jobs and businesses.

The group that included the heads of Apple, Tesla, Unilever and Royal Dutch Shell said the Paris Agreement on global warming would boost economic health and build competitive companies, in a statement released as U.N. climate talks started in Madrid.

President Donald Trump’s administration plans to pull the United States - one of the world’s biggest emitters of planet-warming greenhouse gases - out of the 2015 accord adopted by nearly 200 nations with the aim of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and ideally to 1.5 degrees.

Trump has argued the Paris deal would cost the United States trillions of dollars, kill millions of jobs and hinder the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries. It began the formal process of withdrawing from the pact last month.

The group of 75 executives expressing support for the Paris deal said they employed more than 2 million U.S. workers, while the union leaders represented 12.5 million workers.

“Staying in the Paris Agreement will strengthen our competitiveness in global markets, positioning the United States to lead the deployment of new technologies that support the transition, provide for our workers and communities, and create jobs and companies built to last,” they said.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has said 24 million new jobs could be created around the world by 2030 under policies to promote a greener economy.

Jobs in sustainable energy would more than offset an estimated 6 million jobs that would be lost elsewhere, it noted.

The ILO also has said rising heat due to climate change could eliminate 80 million jobs by 2030, with poor countries worst-hit.

The executives and labor leaders called for a “just transition” for workers whose jobs in the fossil-fuel industry will disappear as economies move to renewable energy sources.

At the climate talks in Madrid, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said most people would benefit from greener economies but social policies were needed to take care of those who would be put out of work in high-carbon sectors.

“In any transition there are always people who will be affected negatively,” he told journalists.

“Today... the green economy is more profitable than the economy of the past, but it’s true that there will surely be certain areas that are going to suffer - and that is why we are in favor of a just transition.”

Governments are tasked in Madrid with settling the final rules for implementing the Paris deal and preparing to strengthen their national climate action plans next year.

The executives and union leaders said efforts to curb emissions were moving too slowly as extreme weather worsens and sea levels rise.

“There has been progress, but not enough,” their statement said. “This moment calls for greater, more accelerated action than we’ve seen.” (Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; additional reporting by Megan Rowling in Madrid. Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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