Business Leaders Want US to Stick to Paris Climate Deal

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on November 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at questions about the federal climate post-January 20th, the day when President-elect Donald Trump becomes just President Trump. What will happen to the Affordable Care Act? Will Dodd-Frank be dismantled? How will the Supreme Court change under a Trump appointee?

Here's another question for the list: Will we all die in a desert hellscape, having given up our last best chance at an international fight against climate change? Hopefully not. Though Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax and pledged to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords, the business community is currently lobbying to change his mind -- and he might be open to hearing them out.

Business Leaders Call for Climate Action

The Paris climate accords were entered in to last December, when 195 nations reached an historic agreement to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That deal, which went in to effect on November 4th, marks the largest concerted action the international community has taken to reduce global temperature increases and avoid potentially catastrophic climate change.

But the future of the agreement has been put into question following the election of Donald Trump. Trump has pledged to support carbon-intensive energy sources like coal and to abandon the Paris accord. He's even put a climate change skeptic in charge of his EPA transition team.

Business leaders, worried that they could lose a historic opportunity, have called on Trump not to abandon the Paris agreement. In a letter to Trump, President Obama, the U.S. Congress, and climate leaders who gathered last week to address the Paris agreement in Marrakesh, business leaders wrote to "re-affirm our deep commitment to addressing climate change through the implementation of the historic Paris Climate Agreement."

We want the US economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy. Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness. We pledge to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement's commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The letter was signed by 365 companies and major investors, from Hilton, to Blue Cross, to DuPont. The companies pledged to continue to reduce their own greenhouse emissions, regardless of what actions Trump takes in the future.

A Softening Stance on Climate Change?

It's too soon to say if corporate pressure will influence Donald Trump's climate change stance. Just yesterday, he released a video pledging to increase fracking and coal extraction in his first 100 days in office, which he claims will create "many millions of high paying jobs." "That's what we want. That's what we've been waiting for," Trump said.

(Many millions of jobs might be hard to find. Coal mining directly employs about 65,000 people, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. The fracking boom produced about 725,000 total jobs at its height.)

But in an interview with the New York Times today, the president-elect took a less hard-line tone. Humans could be having "some connectivity" to climate change, he said, and claimed he would "keep an open mind" about whether to remain in the Paris agreement, the Times reports. "I'm looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it," he said.

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