Tesla CEO Elon Musk and a bevy of corporate bigwigs reacted quickly to Donald Trump’s decision to yank the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which the president announced after a smooth jazz performance in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately for Trump, the musical intro did little to sooth the business leaders. They’re not happy.
Musk was a member of the president’s chief business advisory council and manufacturing jobs initiative, but he pledged Wednesday to depart both groups if Trump made good on his threat to nix U.S. participation in the Paris deal. On Thursday, he delivered:
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
Other industry titans had also mounted eleventh-hour efforts to salvage U.S. participation in the deal. Apple CEO Tim Cook called the White House on Tuesday in an attempt to persuade the president to stay, Bloomberg reported. Adobe, Facebook, Microsoft, and 22 other heavyweight U.S. companies signed onto a full-page ad circulated in Washington, D.C. newspapers on Thursday that urged Trump to stick with the accord, CNN Money reported.
After Trump’s speech on Thursday, Musk wasn’t alone in his critiques. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote the following:
Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 1, 2017
Ditto Salesforce’s top man, Marc Benioff, who had previously publicized the 25-company letter through his Twitter account:
Deeply disappointed by President's decision to withdraw from ParisAgreement. We will double our efforts to fight climate change. pic.twitter.com/cmCLf9CoVY— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) June 1, 2017
And here’s a rebuke from Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, whose first and only tweet excoriated Trump for departing the agreement:
Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) June 1, 2017
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt also expressed his dismay:
Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.— Jeff Immelt (@JeffImmelt) June 1, 2017
The president’s callow retreat, pushed by his most ideologically inflexible advisers, abdicates any hope of American moral or political leadership in combating the threat of climate change for the foreseeable future. But Immelt may be onto something. “Sustainability has become a very large global business,” Daniel Gross argued in Slate on Wednesday. “And while it’s important to have federal policy working in favor of these new technologies and the ongoing energy revolution, Trump’s decision won’t alter the structural forces that are propelling the daily progress of green investments and the ongoing revolution in electricity production.” If he’s right, Trump’s faithlessness may be just the kick in the pants corporate America needs to lead the country to greener, renewable, more energy-efficient pastures.