Back in July, when President Donald Trump made the decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, he was harshly criticized by those who decried the use of fossil fuel power plants as a major cause of “global warming.”
“This is a clear indication that the U.S. has isolated itself on climate change once again, and is falling back while all other major economies step up and compete in the clean energy marketplace created by the Paris Agreement estimated to be worth over 20 trillion dollars,” said Andrew Light, a senior climate change adviser at the State Department under President Obama, at the time.
However, competition from wind and solar systems is causing thousands of Europeans to lose their jobs. The clean energy marketplace in Europe has so greatly reduced the demand for coal-fired power plants that General Electric Co. announced on Thursday it would cut 12,000 jobs.
The move is an effort to save $1 billion in 2018 after the American company’s stocks plunged 44 percent this year and more of the same is expected in the future, according to a report in Reuters on Thursday.
“Traditional power markets including gas and coal have softened,” the company said in a statement.
“This decision was painful but necessary for GE Power, to respond to the disruption in the power market, which is driving significantly lower volumes in products and services,” said Russell Stokes, the president and CEO of GE Power.
Rumors of sweeping job cuts were confirmed by labor union sources on Wednesday, with staff in Switzerland, Germany and Britain targeted for dismissal.
GE’s cuts follow a decision by rival Siemens AG to slash 6,900 jobs in the face of a global shift by electric utilities away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
GE did not give a breakdown of the job cuts, which represent about 4 percent of its overall workforce of 295,000, saying only that they would be primarily outside the United States. The cuts represent about 18 percent of GE’s Power business, GE said.
European workers unions are protesting in outrage over the loss of jobs, according to the Reuters report.
Unite, the largest trade union in Britain and Ireland, said the announcement put 1,100 jobs at risk and it vowed to fight against any compulsory layoffs in the UK.
Union leaders in Germany reacted angrily to the job cuts.
“The announcement by GE that it wants to cut thousands of jobs across Europe is neither strategically nor economically justifiable,” said Klaus Stein, the representative of the IG Metall Union at GE’s plant in Mannheim. “We are not going to accept this, and we will fight … to preserve jobs.”
Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama went to Paris last week and hotly condemned President Trump for pulling out of the Paris agreement, claiming there is now a “lack of U.S. leadership in the fight against climate change.”
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