Coal executive Robert Murray praised Trump for “supporting America’s uncompromising values, saving coal jobs and promoting low-cost, reliable electricity for Americans and the rest of the world.”
As the richest nation and the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the U.S. is central to efforts to address global warming. The Vatican, European leaders and companies as diverse as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Microsoft Corp. had urged the president to remain in the pact, with last-minute appeals by Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook.
Both Musk and Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said they would resign from a presidential jobs panel as a result of Trump’s decision.
Corporate leaders have warned of long-term economic consequences, arguing that a withdrawal would put the U.S. at a disadvantage in the global race to develop and deploy clean-energy technology. They argued a U.S. exit also risks a backlash against American products, raising the specter of consumer boycotts or carbon tariffs from the European Union, China and other nations.
Jeff Immelt, the chairman of General Electric Co., tweeted that he was “disappointed” with the decision, adding that "climate change is real," and the onus now falls on industry to lead.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive Lloyd Blankfein, in his first tweet, said, “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.” JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said in a statement that he “absolutely” disagreed with the withdrawal, but added, “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.”
Congressional Democrats quickly condemned the decision on the Paris accord.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, tweeted "Dear planet, we’re sorry. Please just hang on for three and a half more years and we’ll fix this. We promise."
Some Republicans also criticized the action. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, tweeted that she was “disappointed in the president’s decision,” because "climate change requires a global approach."
The debate whether to exit the agreement played out for months in the White House. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and chief strategist Stephen Bannon pushed for a exit. Those arguing to stay included Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Energy Secretary Rick Perry endorsed a renegotiation.
Ivanka Trump and Kushner, her husband, did not attend Trump’s Rose Garden speech.
The Paris accord is broader than any previous climate agreement. It calls for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in hopes of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above temperatures at the outset of the Industrial Revolution. That’s the upper limit scientists have set to keep climate change from hitting an irreversible tipping point, unleashing catastrophic floods, droughts and storms.
Trump has already moved to dismantle regulations and government programs to fight global warming. He ordered a review of fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks, which along with other vehicles are the U.S.’s largest source of greenhouse gases. And he set in motion a process to scrap the Clean Power Plan, which would have required utilities to slash their carbon-dioxide emissions. The EPA is also moving to rescind rules to prevent methane leaks.
U.S. climate efforts won’t completely cease just because Trump is walking away from Paris.
California, New York, Massachusetts and other states continue to advance aggressive policies to cut carbon emissions. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other companies are still pushing to power their facilities with wind and solar energy. And low-carbon wind, solar and natural gas are so cheap the Department of Energy is studying what it can do to help ailing, older coal and nuclear plants.
The governors of California, New York and Washington responded to Trump’s speech by announcing the formation of a “United States Climate Alliance” to propel state action to address climate change.
California Governor Jerry Brown called the planned U.S. exit “tragic.”
“California will resist,” Brown said. “This is an insane move by this president.” (Bloomberg)