Elon Musk and other titans of the U.S. tech sector are urging President Donald Trump not to pull the United States out of a landmark climate change accord.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO signed an open letter expressing "strong support" for keeping the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement. The letter, which ran as a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, lists 30 executives from some of the world's biggest and most influential companies, including Virgin Group, General Electric, Walt Disney Co., and Coca-Cola.
The Paris agreement commits virtually all countries of the world to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting global warming. The accord, which went into force in November 2016, is considered the world's most comprehensive plan to date for fighting climate change.
— Dan Saccardi (@dsaccardi) May 10, 2017
On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to "cancel" the agreement, and he's repeatedly expressed skepticism toward mainstream climate science. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has called the treaty a "bad deal" that unfairly penalizes the United States and its business and manufacturing sectors.
But U.S. corporations say ditching the Paris agreement could damage the U.S. economy — not strengthen it. In the Wednesday ad, the CEOs said exiting the climate accord would bring about "negative trade implications" and disrupt the flow of American-made goods around the world.
"We are committed to working with you to create jobs and boost U.S. competitiveness, and we believe this can be best achieved by remaining in the Paris Agreement," the executives wrote.
Image: Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Musk's participation is notable not only because he's a billionaire tech executive but also because he sits on Trump's business advisory council, a role that's brought him a lot of flak in recent months.
Two other signatories on Wednesday's letter also sit on the advisory council: Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Walt Disney.
Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft also joined the conversation this week.
In a similar but separate letter, 24 companies told Trump that the Paris accord would benefit American companies and the economy in multiple ways, including by creating jobs and growing markets for clean energy technologies, and by reducing business risks related to declining agricultural productivity and water supplies — two effects of climate change.
The letter ran as a full-page ad in the D.C. editions of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post this week, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which organized the campaign.
— C2ES (@C2ES_org) May 9, 2017
"Climate change presents both business risks and business opportunities," the companies told Trump. "Continued U.S. participation in the agreement benefits U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy in many ways."
Opponents of the Paris agreement chimed in with their own letter to Trump.
More than 40 "free market" groups expressed their "enthusiastic support" for fully withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris treaty and stopping all U.S. taxpayer funding of United Nations-related global warming programs. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank with ties to the Koch Brothers, organized the effort.
Companies ran Paris-focused ads this week because Trump advisers originally planned to meet on Tuesday to reach a final decision on the agreement. However, Trump is now planning to announce his intentions for U.S. involvement after the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Sicily at the end of this month.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that Trump will continue to hear from advisers on the pros and cons of the U.S. remaining in the global accord — including former Vice President Al Gore.
Looks like we're gonna need more ads this month.