Cleantech · Entrepreneurship

Will the U.S.’s departure from the Paris Accords hurt green startups in America?

Dinesh sharma Software Tester at code brew labs

June 7th, 2017

After President Trump decided to pull out of the Paris Accords, Elon Musk, Jeffrey Immelt, and Lloyd Blankfein all said that the decision would shift clean energy and clean tech jobs overseas. Does Trump’s Paris decision effectively signal that his administration will not be friendly to green startups in the U.S.?

Aiko Bernehed

Last updated on June 15th, 2017

As a cleantech entrepreneur I have followed this pretty closely and was never really worried about president Trump's decision on the Paris Accord. Many of my friends and family asked me whether we would continue looking to the US for investors and markets or whether that approach was dead. I told all of them that now especially is the time to strike...

It turned out my gut feeling was right. According to this article some 246 mayors have already signed up as well as hundreds of big companies, twelve universities and three governors. I read somewhere else that these already make up 40 % of the total US GDP and it's probably more by now. Hawaii and California already have some of the most ambitious climate goals with Hawaii looking at 100 % Renewables by 2045 and California wanting to reduce total carbon emissions below 40 % of the 1990 emissions by 2030. That is very ambitious and should be commended.

Also, as the GTM's Energy Gang was saying in one of their podcasts (everybody should listen to it), the Clean Power Plan was a minimum agreement in any case and nobody really expected the government to do anything about the voluntary Paris Accord. The US pulling out of Paris, as much as I hate it, may very well be the signal we need. If the government wont take care of its people and the environment, private institutions and local politicians will.

On a last note, I attended the Cleantech Open finale in San Francisco in February, 2017. One of the attendees told me that the turnout and the investors were amazing. In the past couple of years the event was apparently rather lackluster, but since Trump was voted in and inaugerated there was finally a drive to actually do something. People were scared, and considering the current climate crisis we all should be. But they were also motivated. And that's what I'm looking forward to in the US...

Shalini Trefzer Senior advisor to early-stage AI-based start ups

June 8th, 2017

Part of the answer lies with the cities and is dependent upon the action they take, in my assessment. Adding to your question with a question, has there been further press on US cities and communities as well as businesses who are supposedly signing on to uphold the Paris climate accords, independent of the federal government?

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

June 10th, 2017

Unless your concern is Federal government as a client, probably not. Consider that without the US participation, the Paris Accord may actually set much higher standards for green than would otherwise have been negotiated to win US approval. It sounds like you're talking about companies that supply the green products or services, not simply a company that fits in with ethically/responsibly green policy.

Besides that you have 150+ city mayors who have signed on, which probably covers 80% of the US population, and if the city governments require compliance, then suppliers will be following the municipal requirements no matter how relaxed the federal requirements are.

While it may mean there is a lack of federal incentives to start green industry businesses, this doesn't mean such companies can't succeed here. With plenty of customers still generating demand, subsidies are not nearly as meaningful. You plan for what the circumstances are, and for what may occur. Nothing eliminates all risk in business. And before you get started is the best time to plan.