Business chiefs have joined world leaders in condemning Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change deal as experts warned it could backfire on the US economy.
The bosses of some of America’s biggest corporations from Goldman Sachs to Apple signalled their dismay over the move as it was claimed rival nations would now lead the shift to clean energy.
Mr Trump – who has previously called climate change a hoax – said the accord undermined the US economy and cost jobs, claiming that other countries were “laughing at us”.
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a coal industry lobby, welcomed the decision – as did Republican leaders in Congress.
ACCCE boss Paul Bailey said: “The previous administration volunteered to meet one of the most stringent goals of any country in the world, while many other countries do far less to reduce their emissions.”
But elsewhere in business, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, there was disappointment.
Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said on Twitter: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the US’s leadership position in the world.”
Elon Musk, chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, and Robert Iger, head of Walt Disney, both said they would leave White House advisory councils after the move.
Mr Musk said: “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
Apple chief executive Tim Cook also expressed disappointment, in an email to employees, saying that he had spoken to the President earlier in the week to try to persuade him against pulling out.
Facebook, Gap, Google and Unilever had also sought to change Mr Trump’s mind.
Microsoft’s president Brad Smith tweeted to say the firm was “disappointed” while retail giant Amazon said it still supported the climate agreement and that clean energy policies were good for US jobs and innovation.
Jeff Immelt, head of industrial giant GE, also said he was disappointed, adding: “Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”
Paul Polman, chief executive of consumer goods giant Unilever, called the decision “unfortunate” but said the Paris agreement remained legally binding and provided an “international framework to manage climate change”.
In the car industry, Ford said it would continue to reduce emissions at its plants and from its vehicles, saying: “We believe climate change is real.”
Global retailer Walmart, owner of Asda, said it remained committed to a project to reduce emissions in its supply chain which was “outside politics”.
Even oil giants such as Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell have said the US should abide by the Paris deal.
BP said it hoped the Trump administration followed through on its intention “to find a way for the US to re-enter the accord – or another mechanism for addressing the global climate challenge – rather than to walk away from it entirely”.
Shell said: “We have shared with the administration our strong support for the US remaining in the agreement.”
Economists and energy industry analysts said the US withdrawal would see closer cooperation between the European Union and China, potentially at the cost of American jobs.
“Winding back the climate agenda means that the US will be left behind in the clean energy transition as other global players, such as in Europe and China, demonstrate greater commitment to deploying low carbon and job-creating solutions to climate change,” said Peter Kiernan, of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In the UK, the CBI said the decision was disappointing and said British businesses’ investment and innovation would put them “at the heart of delivering a low-carbon economy”.