High-profile departures from business advisory role shine light on other panel members and their beliefs

Donald Trump may think tackling climate change is bad for business. But business? Not so much.

Two of the USs biggest business leaders, Tesla founder Elon Musk and Disneys Robert Iger, have quit Trumps high-powered business advisory panel after the president pressed ahead with plans to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.

June 1, 2017

Robert Iger (@RobertIger)

As a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.

June 1, 2017

Trump created his business advisory panel shortly after his election as he sought to show how his administration would revamp the US by drawing on private sector expertise.

The departures are a disaster for the president. While Trump has claimed an economic rationale for the USs exit from the most ambitious climate change agreement in history, big business has cried foul.

To make matters worse, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein (who is not on Trumps business panel but knows a thing or two about making money) chose Thursday to launch his first tweet in condemnation of the move.

Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein)

Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world. #ParisAgreement

June 1, 2017

The two defections and Blankfeins message leave a lot of other people on Trumps high-powered business council in a very awkward position, given their own and their companies views on Paris and climate change.

Heres a sample of Trumps business team and the conflicts they now face.

Jamie Dimon chairman, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase

The banking titan is no fan of regulation but even he clearly thinks some is necessary, especially when it comes to the environment. Some regulations quite clearly create a common good (e.g. clean air and water), he wrote in his 45-page letter to shareholders this year. Trump in the meantime has been frantically signing executive orders to repeal Obama-era air and water protections.

Trump may have missed Dimons buried critique, but he wont have missed Dimons signature alongside fellow councilmembers Musk and Iger, who joined a total of 30 other business leaders in sending a letter to the president that begins: We are writing to express our strong support for the United States remaining in the Paris climate agreement.

Based on our vast experience doing business all over the world, we believe there is strong potential for negative trade implications if the United States exits from the Paris agreement, they wrote.

Trump
Trump flanked by Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and General Motors CEO Mary Barra, both bosses have expressed concern about climate change. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Stephen Schwarzman co-founder, chairman and CEO of Blackstone

The billionaire founder of investment group Blackstone is literally Trumps right-hand man on the council. Hes a New York player who likes Saudi princes, companies that slash worker benefits and throwing lavish parties that would make an emperor blush, so youd think there would be no tension here.

But Schwarzman too is out of step with Trump and believes climate change is real. His Schwarzman Scholars educational program funds research into the impact of climate change, and heres Blackstones vice-chairman Byron Wien on climate change in a blogpost from last year: The climate change problem is real, but not immediate and it is hard to get policy makers to focus on it, despite rising temperatures and sea levels … According to some climate experts, in 200 years most major cities will be in danger, but there is not a sense of urgency that will get world leaders to deal with this problem now.

Indra Nooyi chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo

Pepsi has signed the business worlds version of the Paris climate agreement. Last year the companys plans to reduce its emissions were approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative, a program backed by the UN and others that is in alignment with the Paris agreement and has approved similar plans by another 43 of the worlds biggest companies.

Combating climate change is absolutely critical to the future of our company, customers, consumers and our world, Nooyi said in 2014. Trump could switch to Coke, but they signed too.

Celebrating 1237! #Trump2016

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Mary Barra chairwoman and CEO of General Motors

Barra normally gets to sit to Trumps left when his business council meets, and thats clearly where she is in relation to his environmental views. Environmental stewardship and sustainability are part of our business model and core to our operations, Barra said in GMs annual sustainability report last year. The company is aiming for a world of zero emissions, zero congestion and zero crashes.

Larry Fink chairman and CEO of BlackRock

BlackRock, an investment manager that overseas $5tn in assets, has become increasingly vocal about its concerns on climate change. Fink has warned CEOs he is losing patience with those that fail to account for how they will address the cost of climate change, both from new regulation and a changing planet.

Exxon, Occidental Petroleum and PPL, a large utility holding company, have all been forced to be more transparent about the impact of climate change on their businesses after pressure from BlackRock.

Ginni Rometty chairwoman, president and CEO of IBM

Romettys support of Trump caused consternation at IBM where over 2,300 staff members signed a petition, saying the decision undermined the companys core values of diversity, inclusiveness, and ethical business conduct.

In March, IBM was awarded a 2017 Climate Leadership Award by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Climate Registry, its fifth such award in six years.

As IBM stated 10 years ago, Climate change is one of the most critical global environmental challenges facing the planet. That is even truer today, Wayne Balta, vice-president for corporate environmental affairs and product safety, wrote in a blogpost.

Doug McMillon president and CEO of Walmart Stores

Walmart is another signatory to the Science Based Targets Initiative, and McMillon has set ambitious targets for reducing the retailers emissions. Working with suppliers, it aims to reduce emissions by 1 gigaton (or 1bn metric tons) by 2030, equivalent to taking more than 211m passenger vehicles off of US roads and highways for a year, McMillon announced last year. Trump probably thinks a gigaton is a new truck. He likes trucks.

Trump
Trump in the drivers seat of an 18-wheeler while meeting with truck drivers and trucking CEOs in March. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/02/elon-musk-and-disney-boss-quit-trumps-business-panel-over-paris-pullout