President Trump announced he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, a move that will weaken efforts to fight climate change and raise tensions in an already uneasy relationship with technology companies that have vocally opposed such a move.
In a speech delivered in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said withdrawing from the accord would “protect America and its citizens” and that he would seek new negotiations for terms more favorable to the U.S. “We are getting out,” Trump said. “But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great.”
Tech giants including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have been outspoken about the costs of leaving the Paris Agreement, taking out full-page ads that included a letter signed by 25 companies, which also included Adobe, Intel, and Salesforce.
“Continued U.S. participation in the agreement benefits U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy in many ways,” the letter read. “U.S. business is best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response.” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Microsoft president Brad Smith both tweeted the letter out this morning as Trump prepared his announcement.
Dear President Trump, as some of the largest companies in the US, we strongly urge you to keep the US in the Paris Agreement. pic.twitter.com/ztSXyYtRrm
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) June 1, 2017
Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook reached out to the White House in recent weeks to underscore the reasons for remaining in the accord. This morning, Musk tweeted that he had “done all I can to advise directly” Trump and others in the White House. Musk sent another tweet shortly after Trump ended his lengthy speech, announcing his own departures from Presidential councils.
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had previously left Trump’s economic advisory council following Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration and amid a storm of negative press about the company. Musk remained an advisor, arguing he could engage on critical issues, which presumably included climate change. Uber penned a post in response to today’s announcement as well.
Following Trump’s announcement, Benioff, Smith, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Disney CEO Robert Iger, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also weighed in, expressing disappointment.
Deeply disappointed by President's decision to withdraw from ParisAgreement. We will double our efforts to fight climate change.
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) June 1, 2017
We’re disappointed with the decision to exit the Paris Agreement. Microsoft remains committed to doing our part to achieve its goals.
— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) June 1, 2017
Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 1, 2017
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
As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) June 1, 2017
This is an incredibly shortsighted move backwards by the federal government. We're all on this planet together and we need to work together. https://t.co/tLEdtG0n1o
— jack (@jack) June 1, 2017
Musk, Smith, Benioff, Pichai, and other corporate leaders inside and outside tech may opt to create a corporate commitment to the Paris Agreement goals. But the relationship between Trump and Silicon Valley, which got off to a bizarre start last year with a tech summit in Trump Tower, is as strained as ever, and will likely get even more uncomfortable.
Updated 4:27 p.m. PT with additional responses.