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Why CEOs want Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement

  • President Donald Trump will announce whether he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
  • Many CEOs say the accord will help the United States compete, boost the economy and create jobs.
  • Trump has called energy regulations job killers and rolled back many Obama-era climate initiatives.

President Donald Trump is expected to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, ignoring many of the nation's leading companies, who say the country should stick with the deal.

Trump and the anti-Paris Agreement camp have levied a number of criticisms against the international accord, which aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by preventing global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

They say Obama-era policies and regulations that would help the United States meet its commitments to the Paris Agreement will dampen economic growth and kill jobs. Critics also complain the deal holds countries like China and India to a lower standard and forces the U.S. to sacrifice its sovereignty.

"U.S. business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response. We believe the Paris Agreement provides such a framework." -Letter to Trump from 16 companies

But many businesses say the United States will become more competitive and stands to grow its economy under the Paris Agreement.

In April, a group of 16 companies — including Apple, Google, Walmart, mining company BHP Billiton, and oil majors BP and Shell — laid out exactly why the Paris Agreement will help U.S. companies.

"U.S. business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response. We believe the Paris Agreement provides such a framework," the CEOs said.

Among the benefits the Paris accord provides to U.S. firms, according to the companies:

  • it creates a level playing field by requiring all nations to take action;
  • allows firms to make sound investments by giving them clarity on long-term policy;
  • generates jobs and economic growth by expanding markets for innovative technology, which U.S. companies are well-positioned to provide;
  • keeps costs down by encouraging market-based solutions;
  • and minimizes the effects of climate change, which can harm business operations and facilities.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff on Wednesday tweeted out a letter signed by about two dozen companies again asking Trump to stick with the Paris Agreement.

On Thursday, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman urged Trump to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement, warning he is putting the U.S. role in the high-tech job market at risk.

"This is not in the best interest of Americans. We need to own the next generation of jobs, and whether that's clean energy, 3-D printing or immunotherapy, this is an arena that America should lead and must lead," she told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "I think this will be a big mistake if he withdraws from the Paris climate accord."

Oil majors including U.S. energy giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron say the accord offers a framework for tackling global warming and gives the United States a role in steering the global response to climate change.

"The Paris agreement and the initial Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) pledged by its signatories reflect the dual challenge of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring the world has adequate access to affordable and reliable supplies of energy," Exxon said in a statement in November.

To be sure, these companies are big players in natural gas development and stood to benefit from Obama-era regulations that have already expedited the retirement of some coal-fired plants and would likely continue that trend. Trump and Republicans have started rolling back many of those policies.

But even some coal producers like Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy argued the U.S. should remain a party in order to negotiate coal's future in the global energy mix.

Many investors have also advised the president to keep the U.S. in the accord. Last month, 214 institutional investors with $15 trillion of assets under management pushed Trump to implement the U.S. commitment, which aims to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

"As long-term institutional investors, we believe that the mitigation of climate change is essential for the safeguarding of our investments," they said.

Watch: Musk urges Trump to stay in Paris Agreement