Brand leaders condemn president Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement

Zuckerberg, Iger, Musk and Cook

Corporate leaders showed an uncommon degree of unity in a widespread condemnation of president Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change.

His exit from the global pact puts him in stark company with Syria and Nicaragua, with most other nations committed. The move invoked the criticism from heads at Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Disney, Tesla, Salesforce and more.

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and founder of SpaceX, made good on his promise to withdraw from a number of White House advisory councils in the wake of the announcement. “I am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk said on Twitter.

Apple chief Tim Cook tweeted: "Decision to withdraw from the #ParisAgreeement was wrong for our planet. Apple is committed to fight climate change and we will never waver."

Similarly, Disney's CEO Bob Iger said: "As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal."

Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, tweeted: “Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg took to his platform to post a lengthy condemnation of the president's actions too.

The Washington Post said the Trump move -honoring a campaign pledge- dismayed America’s allies and “thwarted the global effort to address the warming planet.”

Trump said his decision was a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” arguing that the climate pact as negotiated under President Obama was grossly unfair to the US workers he had vowed to protect with his 'America First' campaign platform.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump proclaimed in a speech from the White House.

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement voicing “regret” about Trump’s move, promising to redouble their efforts to implement the Paris agreement and asserting it cannot be renegotiated. The UK was a notable absence from the statement.

“We deem the momentum generated in Paris in December 2015 irreversible and we firmly believe that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies,” read the statement from French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Ex-president Obama strongly defended the Paris agreement as a measure to “protect the world we leave to our children.” In a statement, he said it was the product of “steady, principled American leadership on the world stage,” pointing out that it had broad support from the private sector because the accord “opened the floodgates” for high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation.

“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

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Noel Young

Former editor of Sunday Mail in Glasgow and Group Managing editor of Daily Record and Sunday Mail. Now Boston-based US correspondent for UK newspapers including Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Sunday Post.

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