It was the speech heard ‘round the world. On Thursday afternoon, after much build-up and posturing, Donald Trump announced what most of us already knew, that he would withdraw our nation from the Paris Climate Accords. It was a slap in the face to everyone on the planet … a slap in the face to our allies, to the underdeveloped nations of the world, to the citizens of the U.S., and to the very planet which sustains life. Today, Donald Trump is being slapped back.
Let us start with the business community. Two of the US’s biggest business leaders, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Disney’s Robert Iger, have quit Trump’s high-powered business advisory panel. Here is what they said:
“Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.” – Elon Musk, Tesla founder
“As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.” – Robert Iger, Disney CEO
Other major businesses not on Trump’s advisory panel shared their reactions:
“Decision to withdraw from the #ParisAgreeement was wrong for our planet. Apple is committed to fight climate change and we will never waver.” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO
“This is an incredibly shortsighted move backwards by the federal government. We’re all on this planet together and we need to work together.” – Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO
“Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and it puts our children’s future at risk. For our part, we’ve committed that every new data center we build will be powered by 100% renewable energy. Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late”.– Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
“Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.” – Sundar Pichai, Google CEO
“Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.” – Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO
“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement.” – Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO
“Combating climate change is absolutely critical to the future of our company, customers, consumers – and our world.” – Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO
“Environmental stewardship and sustainability are part of our business model and core to our operations.” – Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
The reaction from all these business leaders delivers the proverbial ‘slap in the face’ to Donald Trump, in a history-making event:
“It’s an absolutely bizarre and unprecedented moment in Amercan history,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, speaking of how badly Trump’s reputation has been damaged by this decision.
And the list of similar comments from business leaders goes on. But let us take a look at reactions from a few in Congress:
“Climate change requires a global approach. I’m disappointed.” – Republican Senator Susan Collins, Maine
“We are appalled and disappointed, but we are not deterred. Entering a formal withdrawal would take nearly four years to complete which means climate change is on the ballot for every election until we reverse this immoral action.” – Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, Hawaii
“We’ve just given up our seat at the table, yielded leadership to China & Russia & put U.S. on a list w/ Assad’s Syria & Ortega’s Nicaragua. .@POTUS #parisclimateagreement decision gives me more motivation to fight w/ like-minded Rs & Ds in Congress for sound environmental policy.” – Republican Senator Carlos Curbelo, Florida
And from the top Democrat on the House Science Panel, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas:
“When the U.S. signed onto the Paris climate agreement, I spoke of how I was proud that we were taking a leadership role in protecting our environment and preserving our planet for generations to come. Today, I am not proud. I am saddened and embarrassed that this country will not be working in coordination with the international community to address the threat of climate change. In a time when we are watching the Great Barrier Reef die, one of Antarctica’s ice sheets collapse into the sea, and experiencing more severe weather events, it is the height of shortsightedness to pull out of this agreement. The President is not only ceding leadership on addressing this threat, perhaps the most serious environmental challenge in human history, but his action today betrays a lack of faith in America’s ability to innovate our way out of this global challenge.”
For the most part, Congress is, as usual these days, divided along party lines on this issue, but it is good to see that there are at least a few Republican members who are considering the larger, global picture.
As I mentioned yesterday, there are three states that have formed a coalition, the U.S. Climate Alliance, that will adhere to the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement. So far, the coalition consists of California (Gov. Jerry Brown), New York (Gov. Andrew Cuomo), and Washington (Gov. Jay Inslee). I will not be surprised to see a number of other states join the coalition in the coming week. The three-state coalition aims to reduce emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels, meet or exceed the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan and serve as a forum to sustain existing climate programs and share best practices.
Next up, I will look at reactions from around the globe and consider what We The People can and must do. But let me close with a little bit of trivia. The following was a full-page ad in the New York Times a while back. Can you guess who one of the signatories is? I will post the answer in the comments tomorrow morning.
“We urge you, our government, to strengthen and pass United States legislation, and lead the world by example. We recognize the key role that American innovation and leadership play in stimulating the worldwide economy. Investing in a Clean Energy Economy will drive state-of-the-art technologies that will spur economic growth, create new energy jobs, and increase our energy security all while reducing the harmful emissions that are putting our planet at risk.”