‘Climate Change is Real’: Business Leaders React to President Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Agreement
The move fulfills a major campaign promise for Trump but also threatens relationships with other countries around the world and dampens international efforts to fight climate change.
The 2015 accord aims to limit the average global temperature increase to below 2C (3.6F) and permits all 195 countries involved to create their own goals for addressing rising temperatures. While the deal is not necessarily doomed without U.S. involvement, the withdrawal may encourage other countries to weaken their commitments.
And it’s not just environmentalists who are concerned. Experts say pulling out of the deal could harm American businesses, and CEOs had been asking Trump to stick with the deal since the President announced he was close to making his final decision. Even oil giants such as ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips were among the companies that expressed support for the accord ahead of Trump’s announcement.
After Trump’s announcement in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Elon Musk followed through on his threat to withdraw from President Trump’s advisory councils, saying “climate change is real” — a sentiment shared by many other CEOs and businesses on social media.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said his company was “disappointed” with the decision.
Billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had some advice for Democrats in the wake of Trump’s decision: call his bluff.
Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric said businesses can’t depend on the government when it comes to climate change.
Former Vice President and climate champion Al Gore joined in.
IBM released a statement that it will continue to “reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and will continue to help our clients do so as well.”
Salesforce took a similar stance.
CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein took to Twitter, calling Trump’s decision a “setback.” Notably, the CEO used his very first tweet on the platform on the Paris Agreement exit. Fortune has verified that it is the official account of the CEO.
The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, put in his two cents, writing:
Oil giant Shell also weighed in, saying they would “continue to do our part.”
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, called the exit a “sad day” on Bloomberg.
CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which voted in favor of the climate change proposal at Exxon’s shareholder’s meeting Wednesday, also released a statement.
“We will continue to support the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Paris Agreement enables us to manage material risk and build opportunity in our investment portfolio,” CEO Marcie Frost said in a statement.
Utility company National Grid also released a statement, writing:
“A clean energy transition is good for our customers and the economy, and the right thing to do. That’s why National Grid remains committed to addressing climate change head on and will continue to support our customers and communities to reduce harmful emissions and better prepare our economy for the future. In recent weeks, we have joined several of the largest US companies to urge President Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement on climate change.”
Separately, the president of labor union federation AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, added that an exit from the Paris Agreement would be “a failure of American leadership.”
It’s unclear how the American exit will affect the deal as a whole. The country however cannot officially announce an exit to the U.N. until November 2019, according to Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Until then, it will still be part of the agreement.