One day in advance of a pivotal White House meeting to decide the fate of U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trump administration is hearing from a diverse number voices urging it to keep the country in the treaty.
The agreement, which went into force in November 2016, commits all countries of the world to reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane.
In a letter sent to President Donald Trump by business leaders, oil giants BP and Shell, along with tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, and Intel, tell the administration that the treaty presents both risks and opportunities for their businesses.
Tech companies in particular have been aggressive in their push to use more renewable energy resources to power their operations. Google, for example, plans to power 100 percent of its data centers and offices with renewable energy starting this year.
“U.S. business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response,” the letter states.
Trump has launched an all-out assault on former president Barack Obama’s climate change policies, which will likely make it impossible for the country to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Since all nations, including developing countries like China and India, are part of the agreement, the companies say staying in the Paris system will avoid the risk of “competitive imbalances” for U.S.-based companies.
In addition, the letter states the Paris agreement would help create jobs by spurring the clean energy market, and would avoid risks to businesses from climate impacts such as more severe storms and sea level rise.
“We urge that the United States remain a party to the Paris Agreement, work constructively with other nations to implement the agreement, and work to strengthen international support for a broad range of innovative technologies,” the letter states.
Other companies that signed the letter include the retail giant Wal Mart, and major electric utility PG&E, among others.
The Paris Agreement commits the world to limiting global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, of warming compared to preindustrial levels by the year 2100. This target is viewed as ambitious, given the recent increase in global emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Several members of Trump’s team, including Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt and chief strategist Steve Bannon, are urging Trump to pull the U.S. out of Paris altogether.
Other officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, favor staying in. The White House has promised a decision by mid-May when the Group of 7 major economies meets in Europe.