U.S. Manufacturers Unsure of the Effects of the Paris Agreement

Robert Brice
Mon, Jan 25, 2016
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Government leaders met in Paris to agree on a global warming plan.

While similar meetings have failed to yield the results many environmental groups and governments hoped for, the Paris Agreement is one of world's largest global warming decisions and supporters herald its possibilities, according to Mother Jones.

The Paris Agreement - named for its city of origin - was signed by over 200 countries in Dec. 2015. The document is a commitment from all parties to cut emissions and provide aid to regions affected by the negative impacts of global warming.

As the U.S. and other countries go about putting their promises into practice, manufacturing and energy industries must respond to increased regulations and the new rules for daily operations.

Promises of the Paris Agreement
Individuals and organizations boasting the Paris Agreement's significance claim one of its major victories is an acknowledgment by most countries that global warming is real and governments must do something about it. Looking over the document, one can see the primary goals of the agreement were to acknowledge, recognize and emphasize environmental problems and possible solutions.

Each country laid out its particular plan for carbon dioxide production cutting and the formal agreement states the official goal is to reduce emissions to slow the incremental rise of global temperatures. Those countries with the resources to do so also pledged to assist developing nations that need to adapt to rising temperatures or other unusual weather phenomena. Other goals documented by the agreement include pursuit of cleaner energy sources and industrial transparency.

Most of the promises communicated gradual changes over the next 5 to 10 years. The countries that signed the Paris Agreement state there would be a full investigation of compliance in 2018, and all parties will meet again in 2020 to reexamine commitment to change.

The Problem with Vague Terms
Critics of the document - both environmentalists and those fearing over-regulation - take issue with the vague terms countries agreed to. While the document does make several suggestions about how to reduce greenhouse emissions, some say there is nothing preventing countries from going back on their word.

In the U.S., energy and manufacturing spokesmen suggested a country like China could use this document as an opportunity to dominate several industries while other signers cut back on production, according to The Wall Street Journal. Many republican lawmakers plan to fight regulations inspired by the Paris Agreement and some business leaders will scrutinize any rule they feel will hurt U.S. competition.

Other businesses, however, support changes that would improve the environment. While cutting emissions means examining supply chain logistics management to reduce truck and airplane movements, manufacturing to decrease pollution and even warehouse management to limit wasted materials, the challenge could create more efficient and cheaper processes. The key is to make sure all competitors play by the same rules. During negotiations of the Paris Agreement, the U.S. pushed for global transparency so the committee would be aware if any of the signers didn't commit to the terms agreed upon in the document.

Organizations like the World Resource Report said if the U.S. sticks to the promises it made in the agreement it would reduce the gross national product by 0.7 percent from 2015 to 2030. These projections, however, merely look at the effect of cutting emissions and don't take into account possible clean energy solutions or the positive effects of green operations.

The Fate of U.S. Regulations
The debate rages on as U.S. industry leaders and lawmakers disagree about how compliant government regulations should be with the new Paris Agreement. The election of 2016 could be the deciding factor. The broad terms documented in the Paris Agreement would give a conservative white house enough wiggle room to barely accept any responsibilities. A new president, however, could honor the agreement to show the U.S.'s commitment to global betterment.

Businesses must carefully monitor the ongoing debates, voice their needs to representatives and prepare operations for new regulations. Any major change in daily processes is an opportunity to examine the flexibility of manufacturing and inventory management systems.

Companies should invest in automated data collection solutions that report regular practices and provide oversight of where the business is ready to implement changes. With the right data, businesses can communicate current compliance and look for inefficiencies on their own before government involvement.

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