American manufacturing and its workers will fall behind other countries if Congress and the Trump administration don’t enact new policies to both fight climate change and support clean energy production.

That was the message from experts testifying at a hearing held yesterday by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, chairwoman of the committee, said a $23 trillion clean energy market will emerge between now and 2030 as countries work to meet the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

“We can help American workers tap into that market,” Castor said. “Or we can let China eat our lunch.”

Tarak Shah, consultant and former official at the Department of Energy, said that Congress has the power to change the nation’s future by supporting more domestic clean energy manufacturing. He said that lawmakers should start by doubling funding for energy innovation, reinstating the advanced clean energy manufacturing tax credit, and making manufacturing competitiveness and exports an explicit authorized goal of DOE research.

“The United States is competing in a global clean energy race,” Shah said. “Whoever wins will lead the planet in addressing climate change ... while also gaining the millions of jobs, the higher living standards and the other economic opportunities that accompany it.”

United Auto Workers Legislative Director Josh Nassar said that the Trump administration is taking a step backward by moving to reduce vehicle efficiency standards. An analysis by the energy and environmental think tank Energy Innovation estimates those rollbacks could cost the economy $400 billion through 2050 (Greenwire, Aug. 7).

Nassar warned rolling back the standards would put the United States at risk of falling behind on advanced vehicle technology. He said the United States should take the lead.

“This is a race we cannot afford to lose,” he said.

Zoe Lipman, director of vehicles and advanced transportation at the BlueGreen Alliance, argued that taking the lead on climate policy has worked in the past. She said that under the 2007 energy bill, new energy standards helped speed up U.S. auto manufacturing and brought back jobs.

“We cannot rebuild American prosperity if we fall behind the rest of the world in building the technologies of the future, or if working people and the communities they live in fail to see the gains from innovation and a cleaner economy,” she said.

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news