Quitting Paris likely to have muted effect in key industries

In this 2016 file photo, Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal, right, and Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet Marketing, pose together after the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV was announced the winner of the Green Car of the Year Award during the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord may have only limited immediate impact on many U.S. companies, according to analysts. (AP photo)

By DAVID KOENIG

AP Business Writer

DALLAS — President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord may have only limited immediate impact on many U.S. companies, according to analysts.

In part that is because the Paris agreement only went into effect last year, it’s voluntary and doesn’t carry penalties for countries that fall short of emissions-cutting targets.

“What you have is a president making a nonbinding withdrawal from a nonbinding agreement,” said Kevin Book, an analyst with ClearView Energy Partners. “And that’s not likely to change fundamentals very much at all.”

Many big companies in industries such as autos and aviation have already committed to reducing emissions and are spending billions to do it.

A study mentioned by Trump estimated that if the U.S. meets its Paris goal for reducing carbon emissions it will cost 2.7 million U.S. jobs by 2025. The study, commissioned by a pro-industry group, projected the sharpest declines in coal, cement, and iron and steel, and the loss of 440,000 manufacturing jobs.

Coal and cement producers say the Paris accord would put them at a competitive disadvantage and that they too are taking steps to cut emissions.

The American Coal Council said more than 90 percent of U.S. coal plants are equipped with advanced emissions controls, and that advances in technology will lead to further improvement. Cement makers say they use alternative fuels for 15 percent of their power needs.

However, many economists think Paris would be roughly a trade-off — fewer jobs in polluting industries would be offset by more in renewable energy. The chief economist of business-research group The Conference Board said the potential number of jobs that might be created in fossil fuels is limited, while the potential for job growth in green technologies is much greater.

There are already more than twice as many U.S. jobs in solar energy than coal, about 374,000 to 160,000, according to the Energy Department.

Some corporations that had supported the Paris agreement were quick to signal that Trump’s decision would not change their plans.

“Our position on climate change has not changed … we publicly advocate for climate action,” said General Motors. The company reiterated its support for various climate pledges, and it boasted about its Chevrolet Bolt EV, an electric vehicle.

Rebecca Lindland, an executive analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said Trump’s decision won’t have an immediate impact on automakers, who had no specific targets to meet under the Paris agreement.

Separately, the Trump administration is reviewing fuel-economy standards that were reaffirmed in the final days of President Barack Obama’s tenure. A weakening of those standards might help sell more SUVs to U.S. consumers, but automakers still have to design and build electric and other fuel-efficient cars to meet mileage standards in California, China, Europe and elsewhere, Lindland said.