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Tesla CEO Musk dumps Trump
US exit from Paris climate pact prompts Elon Musk to depart Trump advisory council
2 Jun 2017
TESLA CEO Elon Musk has walked away from his White House advisory roles in response to US president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement in which 200 countries pledged to take action against climate change.
Detroit car-making giants Ford and General Motors also responded by issuing statements reaffirming their environmental commitments.
Unlike Mr Musk, GM chair and CEO Mary Barra will remain an adviser to the Trump administration, which the company said provides “a seat at an important table to contribute to a constructive dialogue about key policy issues”.
“GM will not waver from our commitment to the environment and our position on climate change has not changed. International agreements aside, we remain committed to creating a better environment.”
Former Ford president and CEO Mark Fields also served in a Trump administration advisory council until he was replaced last month by Jim Hackett, but it remains unclear as to whether his successor will continue this White House role.
“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” said the Ford statement. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our line-up.”
Mr Musk took to Twitter this morning to announce his departure from the presidential economic advisory councils, saying: “Climate change is real.
Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
He was not the only business leader to slam the decision, with an open letter of protest to Mr Trump undersigned by 23 high-profile corporations from a broad range of industries including chemicals, clothing, consumer and luxury goods, energy (including fossil fuels), finance, food, refrigeration and technology.
The letter highlighted the business opportunities and benefits of global collaboration on environmental matters, including access to expanding international markets for US-developed green technologies.
It also warned of trade-related risks associated with the US going it alone and included a reminder of the economic risks to agriculture, water supplies and supply chains posed by climate change.
“As other countries invest in advanced technologies and move forward with the Paris Agreement, we believe the United States can best exercise global leadership and advance US interests by remaining a full partner in this vital global effort,” said the letter.
Separately, General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt expressed disappointment at Mr Trump’s decision and called on industry to “lead and not depend on government”.
In his announcement, Mr Trump described the Paris agreement as “simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries”.
“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country,” he said.
However, Mr Trump was not leaving the Paris agreement for dead and promised to “either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers”.
“And we’ll sit down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we can do that’s much better than the Paris Accord,” he said.
In the absence of federal compliance with the Paris agreement, a number of US state governors and city mayors pledged to continue with local policies based on the pact’s terms.
Following Mr Trump’s decision, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, California governor Jerry Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee quickly announced the formation of an alliance of US states “committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change”.
Responding to a part of Mr Trump’s speech in which he said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto said the city would “follow the guidelines of the Paris agreement for our people, our economy and future”.
He also pointed out that in Pittsburgh, Hillary Clinton received 80 per cent of votes.
Yesterday in the run-up to the presidential announcement, Mr Musk tweeted that he had “done all I can to advise directly” to Mr Trump that the US remain in the Paris agreement.
In response to a question from a Twitter user on May 22, Mr Musk said he and “many others” had spoken directly with the US president about the Paris Agreement, and that he was “cautiously optimistic of a positive decision”.
The Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle, renewable energy and space travel entrepreneur previously defended the fact he had continued serving the Trump administration as an advisor because “engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good”.
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