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White House Says The Paris Climate Accord Hurt American Businesses; Do American Businesses Agree?

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White House Says The Paris Climate Accord Hurt American Businesses; Do American Businesses Agree?
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It doesn't seem so. In fact, President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw Thursday prompted instant activism or, in many cases, slacktivism by corporate dissenters.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk resigned from three presidential councils in protest, abandoning his previous influence-by-participation strategy.

"Climate change is real," tweeted Musk, a juggernaut in the rocket and electric-car space. "Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."

Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) CEO Robert Iger was quick to follow suit.

Other corporate leaders expressed disagreement rhetorically.

General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) CEO Jeff Immelt‏ called on industry to compensate for new political strategies by seizing leadership over global sustainability efforts.

And Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey expanded the call beyond the business sector.

The Solo Fight

Some endeavored to abate public outrage by delineating their own environmental strategies.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) President Brad Smith published a community address confirming continued commitment to sustainability.

"We believe that continued U.S. participation benefits U.S. businesses and the economy in important and multiple ways," he wrote. "A global framework strengthens competitiveness for American businesses. It creates new markets for innovative clean technologies, from green power to smart grids to cloud-enabled solutions. And by strengthening global action over time, the Agreement reduces future climate damage to people and organizations around the world."

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) offered similar game plans.

"We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities," Ford said in a statement. "Our commitment to sustainability is why we're investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup."

And Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook sent a charged email to his employees affirming his commitment to achieving a closed-loop supply chain and ceasing the mining of new materials.

"I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment," Cook wrote. "We power nearly all of our operations with renewable energy, which we believe is an example of something that's good for our planet and makes good business sense as well."

Meanwhile, salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE: CRM) CEO Marc Benioff urged other cloud companies to join the carbon neutral push.

Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) issued a statement affirming its commitment to the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge and a shift to 100-percent renewable energy in all its global facilities by 2025.

General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) echoed its dedication to the Act and environmental improvement.

"Nothing showcases our commitment more than our leadership in electric vehicles and the Chevrolet Bolt EV," General Motors said in a statement to CNBC.

Slacktivism

Still, other corporate leaders, such as Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai, proffered mere disapproval.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein even broke his six-year Twitter silence to speak out.

Precedented Support

In April, Shell Oil Company, BP plc (ADR) (NYSE: BP) and several other companies co-penned a letter urging continued participation in the Paris Accord, noting that it strengthened competitiveness, enabled better planning and corporate investment, created jobs and curbed long-term business risks.

The days leading up to the withdrawal saw Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ: ADBE), Gap Inc (NYSE: GPS), Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE: HPE), Ingersoll-Rand PLC (NYSE: IR), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) and others address a letter to Trump making similar points.

The Rare Dissident

Not everyone was opposed to the president's decision, though. Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE: CLF) circulated a press release endorsing the president's decision to withdraw.

"The Paris climate accord is a bad deal for America in its current form," CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in the press release. "We must understand that staying in the accord is not equivalent to protecting the environment. As a nation, we could no longer accept the restrictions imposed on the United States while other countries are allowed to continue to pollute the world.

"The American iron and steel industry is the most environmentally compliant among the major industrial nations. We exclusively use iron ore pellets in our blast furnaces, while China relies on highly polluting sinter feed iron ore fines from Australia and Brazil to over produce steel, flood the steel markets and weaken the U.S. steel industry. We believe that being pro-environment, pro-industry and pro-business are not contradictory goals."

Related Links:

Trump Confirms US Exit From Paris Accord: He's Right, It Is A Bad Deal

Corporate Heavyweights Throw Their Weight Behind The Paris Agreement On Climate Change
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Image Credit: By Terry Ballard from Merrick, New York, USA - Earth Day March in NYC 2017, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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