Knapp: A Plan for Economic Growth and Climate Security

Morning Consult

By:  Frank Knapp
September 12, 2016

Tackling climate change is a strategy for shared prosperity across the United States — we just need a plan for action.

That’s why a large coalition of businesses have entered into the legal process in support of the Clean Power Plan. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Sept. 27 and eventually rule on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to set carbon emission reduction goals for states.

Iconic businesses — Google, Mars, Microsoft, Amazon, Ikea, and others — have filed in support of the Clean Power Plan. A separate amicus brief in support was also signed by 25 organizations representing small to mid-size businesses from across the country: national organizations like the American Sustainable Business Council and the U.S. Black Chambers, as well as local- and state-level business associations from Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina and Arizona (states whose attorneys general are opposing the Clean Power Plan).

The Clean Power Plan is America’s first-ever nationwide target to reduce climate pollution from power plants. It gradually phases in pollution reduction goals, while giving states and power companies the flexibility to decide the most sensible, cost-effective way to reduce emissions.

The Clean Power Plan is a cost-effective, sensible engine for economic growth that will stimulate investment and job creation in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other clean energy sources and technologies.

Job creation statistics in the renewable energy field are remarkable: Investments in renewable energy create jobs at twice the rate of that for coal, oil, or natural gas. Employment in the solar energy industry alone grew 123 percent from 2010 to 2015 and resulted in more than 115,000 new living-wage jobs.

Energy efficiency, meanwhile, is typically the lowest cost strategy to reduce emissions — and offers tremendous co-benefits. Energy efficiency investment saves consumers money (money they can spend in their local economy) while creating local jobs that can’t be outsourced, enhancing energy reliability, and avoiding or deferring costly investments in new power plants.

Using clean energy just makes good business sense, especially as renewable energy costs drop lower and lower.

Meanwhile, the economic risks from unchecked climate change are severe. In my home state of South Carolina, we’re already facing regular and growing coastal flooding attributable to the effects of climate change and increased risks from hurricanes and other extreme weather. In the city of Charleston alone, average sea level is anticipated to rise as much as 1.4 feet by 2050 — 3.8 feet by 2100 — putting at risk $2.9 billion in property, 5,438 homes, 10,233 people, 65 road miles, 6 medical facilities, and 5 schools.

Business leaders across the country recognize that acting to address climate change will reduce risk and spur economic growth. We just need a sensible plan to reduce emissions — one that will provide investment certainty and inform business planning over the medium-term. The Clean Power Plan provides these targets, while leaving state and corporate leadership in charge of developing a sensible path forward.

The Clean Power Plan is approaching a key milestone this fall with the legal review before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. As we approach this next step, business leaders are ready to defend the Clean Power Plan.
Frank Knapp is the co-chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.


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