Immediately after President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on June 1st, Elon Musk, environmental sustainability champion, tweeted:
“Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
Don't know which way Paris will go, but I've done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017
Will have no choice but to depart councils in that case
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017
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, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, was a member of Trump’s business advisory council dubbed Strategic and Policy Forum as well as an advisor of the manufacturing jobs initiative.1 He has also met with Trump on the issue of infrastructure spending. When he agreed to serve as a White House advisor, Musk received so much negative public backlash that he was forced to explain himself.
“In the [White House advisory council] meetings I’ve had thus far, I’ve argued in favor of immigration and in favor of climate change [policy]. That wasn’t on the agenda before. Maybe nothing will happen, but at least the words were said2,” Musk said in the TED 2017 conference.
Prior to quitting the White House Councils, Musk, a strong supporter of climate change initiatives, said that he has “done all” to advise Trump and the White House to adhere to the Paris Agreement.
In 2015, Musk characterized climate change to result in “more displacement and destruction than all the wars in history combined.”
His resignation is in line with his life philosophy which has guided the way he has been doing his business, “if something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”[3
Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, however, comes as no surprise considering that he was fulfilling his campaign promise.
Recommended reading: It’s Time for the World to Deal With Climate Change Deniers
The silver lining
While Trump’s action has negative consequences for the planet considering that the U.S. is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases4, American personalities, businesses, politicians, U.S. towns and cities, among others are coming together to the rescue. This is aside from the worldwide support that the fight against climate change is gaining.
As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) June 1, 2017
Aside from Musk, other CEOs have also vocalized their disappointment over the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Disney CEO Robert Iger has also resigned from the same White House Council. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt expressed that “industry must now lead”. Apple’s Tim Cook wrote in a letter to employees that “we will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”5
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 (@tim_cook) June 2, 2017
Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.
— Jeff Immelt (@JeffImmelt) June 1, 2017
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg submitted a statement to the United Nations on June 5th stating the continued commitment of the U.S. to the Paris Agreement.
He said: “Today, on behalf of an unprecedented collection of U.S. cities, states, businesses and other organizations, I am communicating to the United Nations and the Global Community that American society remains committed to achieving emission reductions we pledged to make in Paris in 2015. Said statement was signed by over 1,000 U.S. governors, mayors, businesses, universities, among others.6 Bloomberg has also offered $15 million to make up for the funding that the United Nations will lose as a result of the U.S. pullout.7
According to some analysts, the U.S. withdrawal from the accord also provides opportunities for other players such as the E.U. and China to take leadership. At the same time, it also prevents Trump from watering down and/or obstructing the implementation of the Paris Agreement which would have resulted to disastrous consequences.8
All in all, with the continued support of governments from around the world, leaders from American society and business titans such as Musk, there is definitely hope for a sustainable future.
- Horowitz, Julia. 2017. You Quit Paris, So I Quit You. CNN Money, 02 June 2017. Available at: http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/01/news/elon-musk-resigns-trump-adviser/index.html. ↩
- Schwartz, Ariel. 2017. Elon Musk Defends His Position on President Trump’s Advisory Council. Business Insider UK, 28 April 2017. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-ted-talks-trump-advisory-council-2017-4?r=US&IR=T. ↩
- Musk, E. 2012. In: Hibbard, S. 2012. Marketing – 5 Lessons from Big Idea Guy, Elon Musk – Infographic. The Marketing Bit Made Simple, 15 October 2012. Available at: http://www.themarketingbit.com/marketing-lessons/marketing-5-lessons-from-big-idea-guy-elon-musk-infographic/. ↩
- Friedrich, Johannes et al. 2015. Infographic: What Do Your Country’s Emissions Look Like. World Resources Institute, 23 June 2015. Available at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/06/infographic-what-do-your-countrys-emissions-look. ↩
- McGregor, Jena. 2017. Climate Change is Real: CEOs Share Their Disappointment Over Trump’s Paris Accord Exit. The Washington Post, 01 June 2017. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2017/06/01/ceos-make-final-pleas-to-trump-to-stay-in-paris-climate-agreement/?utm_term=.ec5877b348b2. ↩
- Volcovici, Valerie. 2017. Bloomberg Delivers U.S. Pledge to Continue Paris Climate Goals to U.N. Reuters, 05 June 2017. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-climate-paris-idUSKBN18W2DQ. ↩
- Kilpatrick, Ryan. 2017. Bloomberg Offers $15 Million to Make Up for Washington’s Share of the Paris Accord. Fortune, 02 June 2017. Available at:http://fortune.com/2017/06/02/bloomberg-trump-paris-agreement-funding-un/ ↩
- Parker, Charles. 2017. The Silver Lining in Trump’s Paris Pullout: A Chance for the EU and China To Take the Leadership Mantle. LSE, 06 June 2017. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/06/06/the-silver-lining-in-trump-paris-pullout/. ↩