Planned U.S. Withdrawal From Paris Agreement 'Completely Irresponsible,' Says Business Organization

President Donald Trump's plan to officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement prompted fierce and expected backlash from environmental organizations, but it also raised the ire of business leaders pushing for stronger action to address climate change.

Trump said on Wednesday that he had withdrawn the U.S. from the "terrible, one-sided climate accord," though sources told outlets including The New York Times that the administration will be starting to withdraw from the accord soon. The Paris Agreement dictates that countries cannot file a written notice to withdraw until November 4. The withdrawal, if still desired after a year, would not formally take effect until a year later, as early as November 4, 2020.

Trump has previously raised concerns about the cost of switching to cleaner energy technologies and addressing climate change. In his June 2017 statement announcing that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the president spoke about the monetary commitment of complying with the Paris Accord signed by his predecessor, along with 173 other countries and the European Union in 2016.

"Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is reckless and completely irresponsible,"Jeffrey Hollender, the CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, a business policy and advocacy organization, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The decision will be defended with a lie: that it's bad for business. What's true is that American business needs strong action on climate change if we are to survive long-term. Responsible businesses are already doing what we can to address climate change – and our businesses are thriving."

While Trump has stressed the cost of switching to renewables, scientists and economists have pointed out the harsh consequences of not switching to low-carbon systems and allowing global temperatures to continue rising: climate change will cause crop yields will decrease; dairy production will slow; rising temperatures will harm worker productivity; and Increasing climate disasters will wreck infrastructure and decimate economies.

If average global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2080-2099--an increase the world is slated to significantly outpace--the U.S. would lose 0.5 percent GDP in these years. In a more drastic scenario, if emissions continued rising until 2100, GDP losses are expected between 6.7 and 14.3 percent. (U.S. GDP in 2018 was $20.54 trillion in 2018.)

Despite these stark figures, a study from the London School of Economics and Political Science published last month said that "economic assessments of the potential future risks of climate change have been omitting or grossly underestimating many of the most serious consequences for lives and livelihoods because these risks are difficult to quantify precisely and lie outside of human experience."

Trump's initial declaration to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement prompted swift backlash from environmental groups. Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard characterized "Trump's isolationist stance" as "morally reprehensible" in a statement sent to Newsweek.

The organizations also used the opportunity to call for other actors to step up their response to climate change.

"When Trump first said he'd quit Paris, our message was for elected officials and decision makers to pledge 'we are still in,' and double down on our commitments. That's still our expectation of all global leaders, to maintain their commitments," Tamara Toles O'Laughlin, North America Director of 350.org, told Newsweek. "In the U.S., there is a lot that elected officials on the state and city level can do to remain aligned with the commitments of the Paris Agreement. Hundreds of mayors, for example, committed to maintaining city level commitments to the agreement."

Fonda
Actress Jane Fonda and actor Sam Waterston participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill on October 18. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Planned U.S. Withdrawal From Paris Agreement 'Completely Irresponsible,' Says Business Organization | News