Trump is listening to business … I'm still engaged, says CEO after US leaves Paris deal

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In the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Mark Sutton, the chairman and CEO of International Paper, has told CNBC that the president is still listening to the business community on a range of important issues.

On Thursday, Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement and commence negotiations to re-enter or renegotiate a new accord, a decision that has not gone down well with world leaders, environmental organizations and some business figures.

Elon Musk, for example, has announced he is leaving the presidential councils he sat on as an advisor to Trump. "Climate change is real," the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said in a tweet. "Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world."

Sutton, for his part, sits on the president's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative council.

"I do think the president is listening, I do think he's trying to manage a lot of different issues for a lot of different constituents," he told CNBC at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum when asked about the climate deal and Trump's stance on global trade.

"So I'm still engaged and think that the business community has a role to play in improving the economy in the U.S. and, for a company like International Paper, the economy globally."

International Paper specializes in the production of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper and employs 55,000 people across the globe. Sutton was keen to emphasize his business' drive for sustainability.

"I think for a company like International Paper, reducing our environmental footprint's long been part of our goals and objectives, and nothing really changes for us," he said. "We've made commitments publicly and we're working on those commitments, not only on greenhouse gases but water and other environmental implications," he added.

Sutton said that reducing the company's environmental footprint was the right thing to do, "for our company, our customers, and the other stakeholders in our company."


Despite Trump's announcement drawing criticism from many, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, chairman and CEO of energy management and automation specialist Schneider Electric, remained upbeat.

"I spend a lot of time in the U.S., which is our largest market," he said.

"I don't think it will change momentum in the direction of sustainability," he went on to state.

"When you meet cities, when you meet companies today, when you meet the states where a lot of those decisions have been made, people are committed to reduce carbon emissions."

The world, Tricoire went on to explain, was changing, with the economic argument clear. "It's a question of business, it's a question of competitiveness," he said.

"If you're a city and you want to be attractive on the global scale, you have to be (a) green city, there is no other option. If you are a company, if you can run your process, manufacture your product, with a carbon footprint which is half or one third of your competitor, then you will win, so it's a question of good economic sense."