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Donald Trump

‘A matter of principle’: US business leaders slam Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate deal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger said they would leave White House advisory councils

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 10:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 11:32pm

US President Donald Trump insisted withdrawing the country from the Paris climate accord would stave off an economic crisis and protect American jobs – but plenty of American companies seemed to disagree.

Criticism of his decision rolled in from blue-chip firms while the response from fossil fuel groups was muted.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger said they would leave White House advisory councils.

“Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

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Iger followed suit, saying he was resigning from the panels “as a matter of principle.”

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, also disagreed with Trump’s decision.

“I absolutely disagree with the administration on this issue, but we have a responsibility to engage our elected officials to work constructively and advocate for policies that improve people’s lives and protect our environment,” Dimon said in a statement.

Other business leaders were even more emphatic in their criticism of the decision.

“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the US’s leadership position in the world,” said Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein.

General Electric’s Jeff Immelt tweeted: “Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote: “Decision to withdraw from the #ParisAgreeement was wrong for our planet” and “Apple is committed to fight climate change and we will never waver”.

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There is a pathway here where the rest of America in reaction to, really, what is an insane decision by President Trump, takes the kind of steps needed
California Governor Jerry Brown

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and it puts our children’s future at risk.”

Meanwhile, the president of the World Coal Association, Benjamin Sporton, offered an opaque response.

“What we really need to see, if the president wants to re-enter the deal, is that he can change the agreement to recognise the role of all sources of energy, including coal,” Sporton said, adding his group had outlined to administration officials the benefits of remaining in the agreement.

Within hours of Trump announcing his decision, a coalition emerged of state governors and city mayors who declared they would adhere to the Paris agreement, even if the White House would not.

“There is a pathway here where the rest of America in reaction to, really, what is an insane decision by President Trump, takes the kind of steps needed,” said California Governor Jerry Brown, who was joined by the governors of Washington and New York, who also called for a “climate alliance”.

Brown was on his way to China overnight, and planned to lead a conference of states and other “sub-national” actors making voluntary commitments to cut greenhouse grasses.

Brown said he would also explore the possibility of integrating California and Chinese provincial carbon trading systems. That would be a “heavy lift” Brown said, but “I am going to discuss that with the highest officials in China this week”.