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Big businesses — even energy companies — disapprove of Trump's decision to walk away from climate deal

  • "Climate change is a serious global threat and ... the world will need to radically redesign industrial systems and economies in order to enable a low-carbon growth economy," said sneaker giant Nike.
  • "Shell recognizes that climate change is a challenge that belongs to all of society — not one individual or one country," the energy company said.
  • "IBM believes that it is easier to lead outcomes by being at the table, as a participant in the agreement, rather than from outside it," the technology titan said.

President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday to abrogate a worldwide agreement to curb carbon emissions was met with widespread condemnation by big businesses.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump announced his decision to exit the Paris Agreement —signed by more than 190 countries a year ago — citing the deal's effects on American jobs and the economy. As his political supporters applauded his decision, the president stated his intent to negotiate a new pact more favorable to the U.S.

Yet the response to his decision from large corporations, some in sectors ostensibly friendly to Trump's policy agenda, backed the Paris Agreement and the objective of environmental conservation.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who served on presidential advisory councils, immediately made good on a promise to leave those roles. Separately, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein — whose firm has served as a breeding ground for key Trump administration allies like Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — blasted the president's move as a "setback" for climate change efforts.

"We are deeply disappointed by the recent shift in climate policy," sneaker giant Nike said in a statement. "Climate change is a serious global threat and ... the world will need to radically redesign industrial systems and economies in order to enable a low-carbon growth economy."

Energy giant Shell — one of several oil behemoths that have in recent years adopted environmentally friendly policies — voiced support for the agreement, even as it pledged to continue working with the Trump administration on energy policy.

"Shell recognizes that climate change is a challenge that belongs to all of society — not one individual or one country," a company statement said. "For our part, we will continue to take internal actions and convene important conversations that acknowledge our role in providing more and cleaner energy."

In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday, Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, said that businesses and policymakers had to "transition the world to lower-carbon forms of energy."

In the wake of the decision to leave the Paris accord, "we need to be really clear — rather than just walking away from it — what you put in place in the United States," Dudley told the network from St. Petersburg, Russia.

The American Petroleum Institute refused to take a position on the Paris Agreement. However, the industry organization pointed to the shale revolution that has vaulted the U.S. into the upper ranks of the world's largest oil producers within a few short years.

"We have always said that Paris was a missed opportunity to talk about how the United States is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, and leading the world in reducing carbon emissions," spokesman Michael Tadeo told CNBC.

"The United States is now near 30-year lows in carbon emissions from electricity generation. Instead of government mandates that could increase energy costs, the world should embrace our nation's energy renaissance that has lowered costs for consumers, benefited American workers and improved the environment," Tadeo added.

'Disappointed'

IBM, also broadly supportive of efforts to curb carbon emissions, called climate change "a serious concern" that affects the entire world.

"Therefore IBM supported — and still supports — U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement. This agreement requires all participating countries to put forward their best efforts on climate change as determined by each country," the tech company said in a statement. "IBM believes that it is easier to lead outcomes by being at the table, as a participant in the agreement, rather than from outside it."

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and top legal officer, said the software giant was "disappointed" in the president's decision.

Box CEO Aaron Levie took aim at Trump's belief that "everything is a negotiation. But America's reputation and trust around the world can't be negotiated, it's earned. Or lost," he posted on Twitter.

In a statement, former President Barack Obama suggested Trump's decision could hurt American innovation, even as he said the march toward a low-carbon future by businesses was well underway.

"Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale," Obama said.