Chip Comins and Sally Ranney: Resilience is the answer to the abandonment of the Paris climate agreement

Chip Comins and Sally Ranney
Guest Commentary

The administration’s tinkering with Earth’s life-support system by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord is dangerous and unwise. But could there be a thin, silver lining to this brazen and ill-informed announcement last week? Time will tell, but those of us at the American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI), parent organization of the AREDAY Summit and associated programs June 19-24, think it’s possible.

We’re heartened by the states, cities, towns, businesses and organizations that have already pushed back against the White House decision and restated their commitment to not only continue to fight against activities and industries that are destroying our planet, but also to expand efforts to do so. At the AREI, we have always believed that the greatest change starts with individuals in communities, companies and organizations all around the globe. We know that the everyday actions of individuals have already made a difference in fighting this imminent global threat.

In response to the potent lack of leadership and disappointing level of intelligence, communities must take the ball in their own hands. We need to move forward with the knowledge of this lack of national leadership, armed with facts about abject climate destruction, acidification of the oceans and deterioration of our soils. It has come down to the need for community resilience, cooperation and collaboration. It is imperative that citizens take back their democracy as our leaders blatantly undermine decades of work to protect clean water, clean air and biodiversity.

We are seriously disappointed by our leaders’ denial of the power of renewable energy to generate the jobs they claim are so important. Their assertion that staying in the agreement would be taking away our nation’s wealth and leaving families jobless is reckless, inaccurate and misleading. Scaring Americans by saying coal jobs will be shipped overseas is a ruse.

There now are more jobs in renewables and clean energy than in the fossil-fuel industry. India just canceled 14 coal-fired power plants because solar energy prices hit record lows. Also, China’s solar output increased 80 percent the past few months. In India, this shift will have major implications on global energy markets. Even the country of Jordan has a refugee camp that is totally solar-powered. Instead of costing $3 trillion in lost GDP, as claimed, the U.S. could now lose out on approximately $1.4 trillion in global business opportunities by pulling out of the Paris Accord.

It’s time to think about what it means to implement change on a local and state level, but we must also leapfrog to address issues on a global scale in partnership with those who signed the accord. We need peer-to-peer, state-to-state and sub-national collaboration. States, the business sector and philanthropy need to step up. This triad will have a significant impact on keeping the low-carbon economy train rolling. We will not be derailed.

The conservative, well-funded American Petroleum Institute ($244 million budget) has been pushing for years to influence policy on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. If organizations like the AREI had even one-tenth of that budget, we could level the playing field.

This month, the 14th annual AREDAY Summit will address the implications of and next steps related to the White House decision to pull out of the Paris Accord. We will discuss U.S. abdication of global leadership in implementing a worldwide, low-carbon economy. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy presents the greatest wealth creation opportunity ever presented to modern society.

Our theme is “Protecting America’s Greatness: The Business of Innovation, Climate Leadership and Resilient Communities.” The summit brings 250 attendees and speakers together to engage with clean-energy world leaders from the public and private sectors, including the fields of finance, politics, solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and leading-edge energy technologies.

There will be over 80 dynamic panel discussions, armchair conversations, keynote addresses and networking events. People come back to AREDAY each year because it’s a place for those working for climate-change solutions to connect, update one another on new projects and create alliances.

In addition to the AREDAY Summit, we will host a series of free events June 19 to 24 in partnership with Snowmass Village: AREDAY Electric (electric vehicles), AREDAY Expo, Impact Film, Community Conversations and the Snowmass/AREDAY Thursday night concert on Fanny Hill — Brothers Keeper featuring John Popper.

A limited number of local’s passes are available for $250. All passes can be purchased on the registration page of the AREDAY website. More information at 970-930-8002 or

Chip Comins and Sally Ranney are with the American Renewable Energy Institute.