Costs versus Benefits
Greg Upton is an assistant professor at the LSU Center for Energy Studies. This piece is loosely based on the 2017 article in Energy Economics entitled “Funding renewable energy: An analysis of renewable portfolio standards.”
In December 2015, the world came together in what was considered a historic agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to combat global climate change. But shortly after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, newly elected President Donald Trump announced that the nation would exit the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement's major goal is "keeping a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels." Advocates for the agreement point to renewable energy as a primary way to reduce carbon emissions that warm global temperatures.
In his June 2017 speech announcing the withdrawal, President Trump argued that the agreement disadvantaged American workers and taxpayers and specifically cited millions of lost jobs.1 However, the Paris Agreement itself specifically lists "creation of decent work and quality jobs" as a priority.
This rhetorical battle is not new. Those in favor of government policies that support renewable energy argue that these policies will create jobs, while opponents argue the opposite. Clearly, both sides cannot be correct. Policies aimed at promoting renewable energy technologies over traditional fossil fuels have been either net job creators or net job destroyers. Both cannot be true.