Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Staying in the Paris Agreement Is Both Good Business and a Way to Keep China in Check
Press Release

RELEASE: Staying in the Paris Agreement Is Both Good Business and a Way to Keep China in Check

Washington, D.C. — The environmental benefits of the historic Paris climate agreement are widely known and critical if the globe is to mitigate the effects of climate change. The United States and China are arguably two of the most important players in that agreement, not only as the two largest greenhouse gas emitters but also two large economies vying for leadership of a global clean energy market that is set to expand dramatically as countries seek to meet their respective Paris commitments.

The Center for American Progress has released a column outlining how keeping a seat at the table makes economic sense for the United States and will provide an important check on China, the nation that stands to benefit most if the United States leans back from the Paris Agreement.

“It is no secret that Beijing is hoping the Trump administration will make it harder for U.S. clean energy technologies to compete in global markets,” said Melanie Hart, CAP Senior Fellow and Director of China Policy and author of the column. “China has committed to build new clean energy generation capacity on a scale that equals the total capacity of the entire U.S. electricity system. If the United States leans back from the Paris Agreement, that would cede a huge economic opportunity to China, who will be more than happy to fill that space. What’s more, without the influence of the United States as a counterweight, China will be tempted to reshape the rules of the Paris Agreement to fit its best interests, not those of the United States and other western, developed nations.”

China is making significant moves to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal. It is on track to spend $361 billion in renewable energy generation through 2020, and Beijing is ordering the nation’s coal companies to cut 1.3 million coal jobs. China sees clean energy as the solution to a host of economic and environmental problems. China is also a pole of influence among developing nations in the Paris Agreement. Without the United States serving as a counterweight, the implementation of the agreement will likely shift from the current balanced approach—which applies the same standards to both developed and developing nations—toward a bifurcated approach that allows developing nations such as China and India to follow a more lenient set of rules.

The United States cannot afford to cede momentum to China by leaning back from the Paris Agreement. However one looks at it, giving China the high ground in global negotiations and lucrative global growth markets is bad business.

Click here to read the column.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.