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Global business leaders rail against Donald Trump’s Paris climate agreement withdrawal

4 min read

02 June 2017

Former editor

Mark Zuckerberg, Satya Natella and Richard Branson are just some of the most well-known business leaders who have spoken out against the president’s decision to step away from the Paris climate agreement.

Having previously hinted that he would look to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and “renegotiate” a better deal, Donald Trump faces the wrath of the very people he was looking to side with through his business-first agenda.

One of the most notable entrepreneurs to voice his frustration was Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. The business leader, who is operating in the renewables and energy space, took to Twitter and confirmed a pledge he’d made before Trump’s decision: “Am departing presidential council. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

In an address made in the grounds of the White House, Trump said he did not believe the Paris climate agreement, which was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, was a fair one for the US, and that pulling out was a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty”.

Signed by all but two countries, Syria and Nicaragua, the Paris climate agreement was set out as a way of uniting the world in fighting climate change. In it, each country determined its own contribution to make in an effort to mitigate global warming.

On hearing Trump had taken the US out of the non-binding agreement, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, commented: “We believe climate change is an urgent issue that demands global action. We remain committed to doing our part.”

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, had taken the time to contact Trump earlier in the week to put forward his case for staying part of the Paris climate agreement. In a email to staff after the president’s speech, he said: “Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”

Bob Iger, CEO and chairman of Walt Disney, joined Musk in resigning from the president’s council – a select group of business leaders brought together shortly after Trump assumed office.

Richard Branson, meanwhile, chose to voice his opinion by posting a Ted talk on Twitter – giving it the label: “The popular, cost-effective and equitable climate solution.” The talk, given by Ted Halsted, proposed a “transformative climate solution” based on the conservative principles of free markets and limited government – addressing the reasons the world is so “deadlocked” on climate action and what it would take to overcome the “seemingly insurmountable barriers to progress”.

Aaron Levie, CEO of Box – a business worth more than $2bn, said: “With so many things America needs to make substantial progress on, it’s incredibly disappointing to see us regress in significant areas.”

In his speech, Trump confirmed his administration will now look to secure a better deal – which may or may not be a revised version of the Paris climate agreement. However, global leaders such as new French president Emmanuel Macron have said there is “no plan B”.