Leaving Paris Agreement Sends Wrong Signal, But U.S. Can Still Be Global Leader in Clean Energy if It Prioritizes Innovation

June 1, 2017

WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the top-ranked U.S. science and technology think tank, today released the following statement from David Hart, ITIF senior fellow, on the White House’s announcement regarding the Paris Agreement on global climate change:

It is very discouraging that President Trump is pulling out of the Paris Agreement to cut carbon emissions. The United States’ abdication of global leadership will diminish confidence in the pact and discourage other nations from staying the course, while also making it more difficult for the United States to forge robust alliances with other nations on other issues of joint concern. But leaving Paris doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. If the Trump administration and Congress focus on innovation, the United States can still be a global leader—both in the fight against climate change and in the burgeoning market for clean energy.

Federal policy should do more to foster public-private partnerships that will expand private investment in clean-energy technologies and get more value from public investments. Key areas for investment include the smart grid, energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, and advanced nuclear and solar power. Without a smart, aggressive clean-energy innovation strategy, the world will not avert the worst effects of climate change, nor will the United States achieve global market leadership in this foundational sector of the economy.

Clean-energy innovation adds to U.S. economic and national security as well as mitigates climate change. China, Germany, and other global competitors have vaulted past the United States to the forefront of this field. But if America prioritizes energy innovation, it can wrest back its leadership position and in so doing create thousands of jobs in advanced manufacturing, improve the country’s trade balance, and achieve climate goals for everyone’s benefit.

For more on this issue, see “Energy Innovation Policy: Priorities for the Trump Administration and Congress.”