U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the Paris climate pact may have the counter-intuitive effect of speeding the pace of meeting environmental goals, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, told CNBC on Monday.
"You see groups of mayors, states, the business community, civil society really accelerating its pace of implementation," Polman said on the sidelines of the Ecosperity conference in Singapore. "Seeing this enormous outcry I come to the conclusion a little bit that he might have done us a favor; that we're moving faster now than we otherwise might have been."
He noted that there have been strong initial reactions from the 194 countries that remained in the Paris accord. Only three countries aren't part of the pact: The U.S., Syria and Nicaragua.
"At the governmental level, we see an increased momentum," he said. "We saw that coming in from the G6, we saw it in Brussels last week when the Chinese and the Europeans met. So at the political level, which is very difficult, we see momentum."
He added that businesses were also gaining traction, pointing toward the "Better Business, Better World Asia" report released on Monday by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which indicated around $12 trillion worth of untapped business potential and the creation of around 380 million jobs globally by 2030 if companies take sustainability seriously.
Polman, whose company has long-held a commitment to green, sustainable operations and spurring development in emerging markets, noted encouragement from the awareness that around 3 million people in the U.S. were employed by sustainable endeavours, with the sector's job creation around 12 times faster than average.