By Kim Robson:
Claiming he represented the “people of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord recently. He believes that saving a handful of coal jobs makes him look like a “man of the people,” but in fact his shortsighted actions only reveal his lack of business acumen.
The Paris Accord is an agreement among 195 nations to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions and keep global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. The key word here is VOLUNTARILY. President Trump could have simply ignored the Paris Accord and continued slashing the EPA and killing regulations he feels are hurting businesses, but instead he made a flashy show of dropping out. We’re now in the company of Nicaragua and Syria, the only other countries that have refused to sign.
Let’s keep in mind that it will take years for the U.S. to fully exit the agreement. According to its rules, the earliest the Trump administration could give written notice of the U.S.’s withdrawal would be November 2019, and the U.S. wouldn’t officially exit until November 4, 2020 — the day after the next presidential election.
President Trump’s decision panders to his base rather than to the American people as a whole, let alone the future of the planet. The bottom line is that investing in sustainable green energy industries brings by FAR the best return on investment for growing jobs and the economy. And the economy had something to collectively say about it. In a May 10 letter to Trump, the CEOs of 30 companies with major operations in the United States, including Dow Chemical, Proctor & Gamble, Goldman Sachs, Disney, and Coca-Cola, argued that pulling out of the accord won’t make America great.
In an ad that ran in major U.S. newspapers, including the New York Times, New York Post, and Wall Street Journal, technology and energy titans such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, National Grid, PG&E, and Schneider Electric explained that the Paris Accord spurs economic growth by strengthening competitiveness, creating jobs, opening new markets, and reducing business risks.
Even ExxonMobil (and its former CEO, now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) supports the Paris Accord! In a statement, the oil giant says it “has a constructive role to play in developing solutions.” The President’s motivation is a mystery, especially after his Secretary of State, his senior advisor daughter, several conservative Republicans and many successful high-growth industry leaders begged him to reconsider.
Here’s why the Paris Accord makes smart economic sense: it provides certainty for businesses and investors, which creates a comfortable environment for long-term planning and investment. It also encourages market-based solutions and innovations, builds new manufacturing bases, and creates a future-focused industry. All of which is fantastic for growing jobs and U.S. financial stability.
In fact, according to PriceWaterHouseCoopers, 71 percent of businesses are currently planning sustainable development goals. The Global Reporting Initiative says that 82 percent of the U.S.’s 250 largest companies are doing sustainability reporting. Finally, the global sustainable investment market represents $22.89 TRILLION dollars under management, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Association.
Sustainability is a critical element in many corporate missions. Businesses already know that going green improves financial performance, drives competitive advantage, fosters innovation, improves risk management, and attracts loyal customers and employees. Failure to be sustainable could negatively impact the brand. Companies realize they can’t consider the interests of their shareholders only, but must include the interests of the greater community to be successful.
The great news is that over 1,400 cities, states and businesses (including over a dozen Fortune 500 companies) have pledged to uphold the Paris Accord on their own, regardless. In a statement titled “We Are Still In,” they say that Trump’s decision is “a grave mistake that endangers the American public and hurts America’s economic security and diplomatic reputation.” The coalition’s numbers are growing by the day.
States that have signed on to the alliance include California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Oregon and Hawaii. Together, these states represent the world’s third-largest economy. Nine other states and Washington, D.C., say they also plan to abide by the Paris Accord. Also, more than 200 cities, including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, have committed to the accord.