Pruitt vs Planet: Who Supports & Opposes the Paris Agreement

The Trump Administration is expected to announce their decision about staying or withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement next week. With the fate of global climate action on the line, now is an important time to take stock of who supports the Paris Agreement and who has opposed this critical agreement.

Who supports the global climate agreement?

After news of a potential U.S. withdrawal became public, statements supporting Paris have come from every corner. Seventy percent of the American public support the Paris Agreement because they want to rein in the impacts of climate change and start building a low-carbon economy that generates far cleaner, safer and more numerous job opportunities for Americans.

Thousands of businesses want America to honor our commitments and stay in the Paris deal. This includes dozens of Fortune 500 companies with combined annual revenues of over $3.6 trillion. America’s businesses support the Paris Agreement. Some of America’s largest companies recently sent a letter to the White House supporting Paris, including Apple, BHP Billiton, BP, DuPont, General Mills, Google, Intel, Microsoft, National Grid, Novartis Corporation, PG&E, Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric, Shell, Unilever and Walmart. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE urged Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement. Exxon sent a letter to the White House supporting Paris, as did the CEO of ConocoPhillips (company statement). Several oil companies including BP and Shell, Total and Statoil support Paris, as did Cheniere Energy which exports U.S. LNG to 19 countries. Cherniere sent a letter to the White House supporting Paris, as did the coal company Cloud Peak Energy. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal told the White House that remaining in Paris serves U.S. interests. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy pointed out that withdrawing could hurt US businesses, lead to retaliatory trade measures and policies in other nations, and boycotts of U.S. goods.

Governors of states that accounted for one-third of the U.S. population and nearly 40 percent of US GDP have publicly urged Trump to stay in the Agreement. Fourteen Attorneys General of the U.S. have urged Trump to remain in Paris. Senators Cardin (D) and Collins (R) issued a letter to the Administration supporting the U.S. remaining in the Paris Agreement: “Doing so keeps the U.S. safer and our global alliances secure.” Even before the news of potential withdrawal, 75 mayors across the country had urged Trump to stay in the Paris Agreement.

Across the globe, the Prime Minister of Fiji, one of the islands most vulnerable to climate change, have issued an invite to Trump to visit Fiji and see the impacts of climate change firsthand, and urged him to reconsider his position on Paris. And the UNEP head rightly pointed out that leaving Paris would mean the US is shooting itself in the foot when it comes to jobs growth.

Who opposes the Paris Agreement?

This global agreement is opposed by a sliver of the coal industry—comprised of companies that want Trump to shield them from fair competition from clean energy sources, that refuse to pay for the negative health and environmental impacts of using coal, and that are willing to risk catastrophic climate damage on American soil for the sake of their (relatively tiny) bottom line.

The opposition’s champion in the White House is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who lacks expertise in international law and negotiations and the actual terms of the Paris Agreement. Pruitt has falsely stated that China and India are not acting on climate as an excuse for the U.S. to roll back climate policy. Because that excuse failed, Pruitt is relying on flimsy and unfounded legal excuses borrowed from far-right policy shops. Pruitt is arguing that the U.S. must leave the Paris Agreement because Trump has rolled back domestic climate action. Nothing about the Paris Agreement justifies Pruitt’s excuses. In fact, Pruitt’s excuses for leaving the Paris Agreement were soundly rejected by the State Department’s own legal team, U.S. negotiators and international architects of the agreement—experts who are immensely more qualified to comment on the legal terms of the Paris Agreement than Pruitt.

- Laurence Tubiana, France’s Climate Change Ambassador and Special Representative for COP21

Decision Time

As the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama said in a public appeal aimed at Trump: “Let’s see this process through for the benefit of all 7.5 billion people on Planet Earth, including your own citizens in vulnerable parts of America".

It’s time to see which side Trump will favor—the polluters defended by Pruitt, or the majority of the American public and businesses who want America to remain in the first truly global climate effort.

About the Authors

Han Chen

International Climate Advocate, International and Climate & Clean Air programs

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