Corporate America’s support of the Paris agreement on global warming should convince President Donald Trump to follow through with his promise to withdraw from the accords, say former top transition team officials.
U.S.-based corporations have lobbied the Trump administration to stay party to the agreement, which they see as good for business. Axios reported the “consensus in corporate America is the broadest it’s been in a decade” since 2007 when companies joined together to push cap-and-trade through Congress.
“Big corporations and Wall Street did not elect President Trump and are out of touch with the economic realities that face people who work in resource and energy-intensive industries,” said Myron Ebell, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s director of energy and climate policy who headed Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Companies from Starbucks and Pepsi to oil giant ExxonMobil and coal producer Cloud Peak Energy have lobbied the Trump administration to stay in the Paris agreement. Multi-national corporations, like Exxon, want to avoid diplomatic blowback and no doubt see it as a boon to their natural gas holdings.
“Companies with big natural gas portfolios will gain with climate policies that accelerate a shift already underway to replace coal with natural gas,” Axios reported. ExxonMobil sent a letter to White House Adviser David Banks in March in favor of staying in the Paris deal.
Coal companies want to see Obama’s Paris commitments weakened and more subsidies for emissions capture technology at power plants.
“While amending the US pledge on CO2 emissions to undo the economic harm it would have imposed, remain in the Paris Agreement and use US influence to ensure that fossil energy remains a driver of global prosperity for the foreseeable future while addressing climate concerns,” Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall wrote in a letter recently sent to Trump.
Ebell, on the other hand, believes Trump should stick to his campaign pledge to “cancel” the Paris agreement, which President Barack Obama joined and went into effect last year.
“The administration should pay attention to the voters in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” Ebell told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Likewise, Tom Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance, say corporations want to turn Paris into an agreement they can profit from.
“A number of large companies are calling on President Trump to remain in the agreement because they stand to make a lot of money, stamp out their smaller competitors, and negotiate for their own special handouts,” Pyle, who headed the Energy Department transition team for Trump, told TheDCNF.
“That may be a winning strategy for the executives at Exxon and other companies, but not for the U.S. economy as a whole,” Pyle said.
Trump promised to withdraw from the Paris agreement during his campaign as part of his overall plan to roll back Obama administration global warming regulations hampering energy production.
But after taking office, Trump seems to have waffled on pulling out of Paris. His advisers are split on the issue, and will meet this week to hash out what should be done.
Chief Strategist Steve Bannon oppose staying in the Paris agreement while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump and advisers Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn support it.
The Tillerson wing of the White House believe the Paris agreement can be used as a diplomatic lever to achieve foreign policy objectives. Some coal companies and Republicans believe Obama’s Paris pledge can be substituted with subsidies emissions control technology.
Pyle says plans to stay in Paris are based on a major misconception about the United Nations deal.
“There’s a misconception that the Trump administration can simply renegotiate the Paris agreement to give the U.S. a ‘better deal,’” Pyle said.
“That’s simply not the case, as the deal only leaves the door open for more stringent commitments, not less stringent,” Pyle said. “If the Trump administration truly wants to strengthen our economy and deliver a better deal to American families and businesses, it would follow through on its promise and pull out of the agreement altogether.”
Nearly 200 nations backed the Paris agreement when it was announced in late 2015, and it went into effect in 2016.
The Obama administration joined the accords last year without Senate approval, committing the U.S. to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
Some argue not pulling out the Paris agreement would be largely symbolic, since Trump’s already begun to roll back Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Though Ebell and others have warned staying in Paris opens the Trump administration up to lawsuits, threatening his deregulatory agenda.
The White House is expected to announce their decision on the Paris deal at the G-7 meeting in Italy at the end of May.
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