Tech giants in uproar as Trump pulls US out of Paris climate agreement

2 Jun 2017

US president Donald Trump. Image: akatz/Shutterstock

In a move that will reset efforts to save the planet, US president Donald Trump has announced he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

Tech leaders have responded in shock to US president Donald Trump’s retrograde decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on combatting climate change.

The decision to take the US out of the pivotal global accord has prompted Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to pull out of presidential councils that he was involved in.

‘Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy and it puts our children’s future at risk’

Top Silicon Valley leaders, including Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have urged the president to reconsider his actions.

Yesterday, on the White House Lawn, Trump announced: “We’re getting out.”

He described the agreement as draconian, claiming that it placed unfair financial and economic burdens on the US.

“In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” he confirmed.

Trump said the US would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Agreement or a “new transaction” on terms more advantageous to the country.

The Paris Agreement is a global action plan by nearly 200 countries to work together on what is arguably the biggest issue endangering life on Earth: global warming.

The end of the world as we know it?

Tech giants from Apple to Facebook have made environmental protection their top stated goals, using renewable energy to power offices, stores and data centres.

In response to Trump’s announcement, 25 tech companies including Adobe, Apple, Salesforce and Intel took out newspaper ads urging the US president to reconsider.

In a letter signed by the 25 companies, they said: “Continued US participation in the agreement benefits US businesses and the US economy in many ways.

“US business is best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg implored Trump not to walk away from the accord: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy and it puts our children’s future at risk. For our part, we’ve committed that every new data centre we build will be powered by 100pc renewable energy.

“Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it’s too late.”

The March for Science group, an organisation set up to defend science integrity at a time when politicians are attempting to discredit scientists, also decried Trump’s decision. “Science was ignored today. The decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement stands in stark opposition to the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is a real and active threat to communities around the world and to future generations.

The group said that the decision is out of step with the views of the majority of Americans in all 50 states who support US actions in this field, and surrenders the role of America as a leader in the fight against climate change. It warns that vulnerable communities will suffer disproportionately in the face of US inaction.

“In addition, the fact that this decision was made without the input of a presidential science adviser – a position that, like most of the key scientific leadership positions in the administration, remains unfilled – is deeply troubling to all those who care about the role of science in informing policy.”

In Ireland, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten, TD, hit out at Trump’s decision.

“We are all vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we all have a responsibility to address climate change within our respective capabilities,” Naughten said. “I am therefore extremely disappointed and concerned that the United States has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“The previously strong ambition shown by the United States played a major role in mobilising global ambition and achieving the agreement reached by 195 parties in Paris in 2015.

“This is a major setback for the international community and it is essential that the decision of the United States does not weaken global resolve,” Naughten said.

Tech leaders such as Benioff, Apple’s Tim Cook, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sundar Pichai and others also spoke out on Twitter against Trump’s decision. Here are some of their reactions:

US president Donald Trump. Image: akatz/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years