US climate deal pullout shock

A woman takes part in a demonstration in New York.
Picture: AFP

Many American companies disappointed by Trump decision

US President Donald Trump says on Thursday withdrawing the country from the Paris climate accord will stave off an economic crisis and protect American jobs – but many American companies seem to disagree.

Criticism of his decision rolled in from blue-chip companies like Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Ford Motor Co and Microsoft Corp, while the response from fossil fuel groups with the most to gain from a relaxation of carbon emissions standards was muted.

Tesla Inc chief executive Elon Musk and Walt Disney Co CEO Robert Iger said they would leave White House advisory councils over Trump’s decision.

World Coal Association president Benjamin Sporton said he had mixed feelings about Trump’s announcement, adding he was eager to see a US policy that actively promoted a place for coal in the global energy mix.

“What we really need to see, if the president wants to re-enter the deal, is that he can change the agreement to recognise the role of all sources of energy, including coal,” Sporton said.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry’s biggest trade group, meanwhile, issued a statement saying it had never taken an official position on the Paris accord.

A number of its members, including Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips, had publicly supported the deal.

“For us, our position on the Paris agreement . . . we need a framework like that to address the risks of climate change,” Exxon Mobil chief executive Darren Woods said on the sidelines of the company’s AGM on Wednesday.

Some other groups expressed measured support for Trump’s decision, saying it provided an opportunity to fix problems with the deal.

“Manufacturers support the spirit of the Paris Agreement and the effort to address climate change through a fair international agreement. But as the president has acknowledged, certain elements of this deal were not equitable for US manufacturers,” National Association of Manufacturers vice-president for energy and resources policy Ross Eisenberg said .

A spokesman for Peabody Energy Corp, America’s largest publicly traded coal miner, said on Wednesday that the company would support a decision by Trump to withdraw from the Paris deal because the “accord is flawed on a number of levels”.

Trump vowed during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris deal, arguing the pact would cost the US trillions of dollars, kill jobs and stymie economic growth without providing tangible benefit.

His critics have argued, however, that the risks of climate change require action, and a shift to a low-carbon energy economy can create more jobs than it eliminates.

Spokesmen for groups like the National Mining Association and the American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers declined to comment on Trump’s decision.

But a number of other business leaders derided it in forceful terms.

“Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the US’s leadership position in the world,” Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said in his first-ever tweet.

Meanwhile, the US pullout from the agreement will make it harder for the leastdeveloped nations to adhere to their commitments, but they are determined to meet their goals under the deal.

Developing nations agreed the deal after the rich set a goal of raising climate finance from 2020 to help the poor limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to more heat waves, floods and rising seas.

“It will be harder for us,” Gebru Jember Endalew of Ethiopia, who heads the 48-nation group of the least developed nations at UN climate negotiations, said.

But he said the poorest nations, from Afghanistan to Zambia, had no plans to quit the Paris Agreement.

“Climate finance is the biggest bad [from Trump’s decision],” International Institute for Environment and Development climate change director Clare Shakya said in London.

Saleemul Huq, of the University of Bangladesh, said: “As far as the vulnerable developing countries are concerned, they have long since factored in this non-payment of the US’s dues.

“All the countries are going ahead with their commitments regardless.”

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