The already-tumultuous global political landscape took a turn for the worse on Thursday, as President Donald Trump officially announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris climate accord.
Trump’s unwavering belief in deregulation—as well as his denial of climate change science and desire to roll back the work of the Obama administration—has been causing concern among environmental advocates for months, but his recent trip abroad left many proponents of the Paris deal optimistic.
While on his first international tour as POTUS, the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star-turned-president met with several of the world leaders who were integral in passing the accord. Heck, reports even indicated that climate change was a topic of conversation when Trump met with the Pope.
Nevertheless, word of Trump’s decision started leaking on Wednesday morning. According to an initial report from Axios, a letter from 22 Senate Republicans urging a clean break from the deal helped confirm Trump’s instincts to pull out (also read: Solar Stocks Plunge as Trump Reportedly Pulls Out of Paris Climate Deal).
In what was a controversial speech at the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Trump confirmed the rumors, citing his “American first” beliefs and harping on the need to affirm America’s sovereignty. The U.S. will now begin the multi-year process of withdrawing from the agreement, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only other nations not involved with the deal.
There’s been plenty of buzz about Trump’s decision from around the world, and there are certainly many different opinions out there. To keep things as objective as possible, I simply wanted to look at the prevailing sentiment of the global markets.
A quick glance at the major indexes reveals that today has been a solid day for domestic trading, as the latest jobs data showed that unemployment has hit its lowest point in over 15 years. Total jobs added actually fell below estimates, but as we near “full” employment, investors remain confident about the economy.
But what about the specific industries that will be more directly affected by the Paris climate deal?
Let’s start by looking at the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN - Free Report) , which tracks companies in various business segments throughout the global solar power industry. Shares of TAN have felt a small effect from the news, dipping roughly 1% since reports starting emerging on Wednesday. It’s worth noting that TAN jumped more than 6% on the first day of trading after the Paris deal was inked in 2015; the ETF has also slipped nearly 2% since Election Day.
Expanding out a bit, let’s take a look at the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN - Free Report) , which is composed of equities in the broader “clean energy” industry. This ETF jumped nearly 3% after the Paris deal was inked in 2015, but it remains relatively flat on the week—perhaps an indication that investors believe America’s pullout won’t devastate the worldwide resources that have been pledged to clean energy investments.
Finally, the most interesting fund to look at here is the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL - Free Report) . This ETF tracks equities that are involved in any aspect of the coal business, including operation, transportation, and mining. Interestingly enough, this fund is actually down about 1.6% since last Friday’s close. Industry leaders have warned that Trump’s withdrawal, despite his support of American coal, will cause an international backlash against U.S. coal companies.
Nevertheless, the reactions here don’t indicate total disaster, which doesn’t match the tone of the world’s leaders, climate advocates, and political pundits. Why? Because the rest of the world still supports the Paris deal. Yes, having one of the world’s top polluters back out of the plan is a tragedy, but there’s already been an overwhelming response from the world’s other governments, as well as the heads of American municipalities and corporations.
Whether you think Trump’s decision eased an unnecessary regulatory burden on American companies, or if you think it was an embarrassing response to a global environmental crisis, there are still powerful people around the world that care about the planet. Those people can have an impact—maybe even a world-saving one.
For more of this week’s hottest news from the investment and financial worlds, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Zacks Friday Finish Line podcast:
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