US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord – a global climate deal worked out after years of tough negotiation – has left many Americans aghast. Leaders of US tech giants have come out in open criticism of the pullout.
Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted that he’s quitting the president’s advisory councils.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
Musk had earlier decided to continue in these councils despite his disagreement over Trump’s orders on immigration, but the climate accord pullout was the last straw. Tesla is at the forefront of building cleantech with electric cars and solar power.
Disney CEO Robert Iger followed suit hours after Musk.
As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) June 1, 2017
Other honchos have come out with statements. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was unequivocal in his criticism, saying Trump has “put our children’s future at risk” in a Facebook post.
Last week, in an address at his alma mater, Harvard, he had urged students to find a purpose that would be generation-defining: “How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet?” he asked.
Asian countries, especially the most populous ones, India and China, are expected to face the brunt of the effects of global warming and pollution on the environment and health. Trump said the Paris accord is partial to India and China, although developing nations are at a disadvantage in replacing lower cost fossil fuels with more expensive renewable energy. China, India, and European nations have pledged to uphold their commitments under the Paris accord despite the US pullout.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says in a letter to his employees that he tried in vain to persuade Trump not to go back on the promises the US had made to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the accord.
“I know many of you share my disappointment with the White House’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. I spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the US in the agreement. But it wasn’t enough,” says the letter.
Cook said he would continue to push for the use of renewable energy at Apple as well as its suppliers.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressed similar sentiments.
Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 1, 2017
Apart from their concerns over the impact of this decision on the environment, the US tech giants will also have to keep an eye out for any backlash on their global businesses spread across multiple countries.
A number of them had taken out full-page ads in leading US newspapers, urging the president to reconsider the decision to pull out from the global agreement.
“As businesses concerned with the well-being of our customers, our investors, our communities, and our suppliers, we are strengthening our climate resilience, and we are investing in innovative technologies that can help achieve a clean energy transition. For this transition to succeed, however, governments must lead as well. US business is best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response,” they said in the ad.
The US had committed to a target for cutting its emissions by 2025, under the Paris accord which was signed during the Obama presidency. The US was already halfway there in meeting that target, before deciding to join Nicaragua and Syria – the only countries which have not signed the accord. Nations like India, struggling to balance its development goals with meeting its obligations to save the global environment, came on board with commitments on emission cuts – even though India’s emission per capita is one-tenth that of America’s.
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