Major US companies urge Trump to ditch climate change denial

Major companies and investors worth approximately €3 trillion have written to Trump confirming their "deep commitment" to addressing climate change

Major US companies urge Trump to ditch climate change denial

File photo, US President-elect Donald Trump, 09-Jan-2017. Image: Evan Vucci AP/Press Association Images

More than 600 major companies and investors have penned an open letter to US President-elect Donald Trump calling on the new administration to commit to continued moves toward a low-carbon economy.

The group, describing themselves as “members in the business and investor community of the United States” have used the document to confirm their “deep commitment” to addressing climate change through the Paris Climate Accord.

During the divisive US elections, Mr Trump suggested that he believed climate change was “a hoax” and warned that he may pull the US out of the Paris agreement.

Since his election to office, he has appointed a string of climate change deniers to key positions within his transitional cabinet and warned that he may strip NASA’s Earth Science Division of funding as part of a crackdown on “politicised science.”

Greenpeace spokesperson Perry Wheeler told Newstalk that, “unchecked, President Trump could eliminate the clean power plan, abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, and pull us out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.”

He called Mr Trump’s election victory an “urgent wake-up call for people power.”

Image: NASA Climate 365 project

Major firms and investors

In the joint statement, a range of major companies - including Unilever, IKEA, General Mills, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Adidas, Intel, Levis, Nike, Tesla, Virgin and Mars inc. - have appealed to Mr Trump to reconsider his apparent stance.

The more than 530 companies included on the list have collective revenues amounting to nearly €1.1 trillion and employ approximately 1.8 million people.

The 100 investors collectively manage assets worth over €1.9 trillion.

The statement calls on “our elected US leaders” to throw their support behind three major actions:

  • Continuation of low-carbon policies to allow the US to meet or exceed its promised national commitment - and to increase the nation’s future ambition.
  • Investment in the low-carbon economy at home and abroad in order to give financial decision-makers clarity and boost the confidence of investors worldwide.
  • Continued US participation in the Paris Agreement, in order to provide the long-term direction needed to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C.

The low-carbon economy

“We want the US economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy,” reads the statement. “Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives.”

“Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk, but the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness.

“We pledge to do our part, in our own operations and beyond, to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2°C.”

The group said that US implementation of the Paris Agreement will “enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all.”

“We support leaders around the world as they seek to implement the Paris Agreement and leverage this historic opportunity to tackle climate change,” they said.

Major international companies

The letter provides comment from the company executives driving the commitment to addressing climate change.

Lars Petersson, president of IKEA USA said: “All parts of society have a role to play in tackling climate change, but policy and business leadership is crucial.”

“The Paris Agreement was a bold step towards a cleaner, brighter future, and must be protected,” he said. “IKEA will continue to work together with other businesses and policymakers to build a low-carbon economy because we know that together, we can build a better future.”

Johnson & Johnson VP of Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability, Paulette Frank said that as a healthcare company, “we understand that healthy people need a healthy planet.”

She said the company has committed to taking on responsibility to, “reduce our carbon emissions and increase our use of renewable energy until we reach our ultimate aspiration of 100% renewable electricity.”

“The Paris Agreement was a vital step forward, but its power is in our collective action,” said Lara Birkes, chief sustainability officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “Business and government leaders must urgently work together to drive a thriving, low-carbon economy.”