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Silicon Valley comes out strong against Trump’s decision to abandon Paris agreement

Silicon Valley comes out strong against Trump’s decision to abandon Paris agreement


Tech execs fear for the planet, and their businesses

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Sundar Pichai code conference 2016-news-Asa Mathat / Recode
Asa Mathat / Recode

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella all said today that they remain committed to the environment and clean energy initiatives in the face of Trump’s decision to withdrawn the US from the Paris climate coalition.

Though many voices around the world, including politicians and representatives from numerous corporations and countries, have expressed extreme concern over Trump’s decision, Pichai, Nadella, and Zuckerberg are three of the most powerful figures in the tech. Their opinions on political matters carry immense weight in the industry, suggesting many other members in Silicon Valley and beyond will speak up on behalf of the tech sector. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also confirmed today on Twitter that he would be stepping down from Trump’s economic advisory councils over the decision.

Pichai, Nadella, and Zuckerberg are three of the industry’s most influential voices

“Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is bad for the environment, bad for the economy, and it puts our children's future at risk,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “For our part, we've committed that every new data center we build will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Stopping climate change is something we can only do as a global community, and we have to act together before it's too late.”

Shortly after 5PM ET, Pichai tweeted, “Disappointed with today’s decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all.” Slightly early in the afternoon, Nadella and Brad Smith, the company’s chief legal officer, both tweeted messages reiterating Microsoft’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and preventing the devastating effects of climate change. “We believe climate change is an urgent issue that demands global action. We remain committed to doing our part,” Nadella wrote.

Smith, who is known for penning lengthy and thorough blog posts on controversial political topics on behalf of Microsoft, also directed readers to a LinkedIn post that better explained the company’s reasoning for denouncing the withdrawal.

“We are disappointed with today’s decision by the White House to withdraw the United States from the landmark, globally supported Paris Agreement on climate change,” Smith writes. “We believe that continued U.S. participation benefits U.S. businesses and the economy in important and multiple ways. A global framework strengthens competitiveness for American businesses. It creates new markets for innovative clean technologies, from green power to smart grids to cloud-enabled solutions. And by strengthening global action over time, the Agreement reduces future climate damage to people and organizations around the world.”

Though Musk and the others remain the most prominent tech industry leaders to have personally voiced concern on the subject, other tech companies have been issuing statements denouncing Trump’s decision as well. Both Amazon and HP issued statements saying they will continue to support the agreement and to take actions to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. “Climate change is one of the most significant and urgent issues facing business and society today,” wrote HP in its statement. “The science is clear, the impacts are serious and the need to act is essential.”

Prior to Trump’s press conference today, tech leaders across the industry attempted to sway the president from following through on the withdrawal. Among those were Apple CEO Tim Cook, who called the White House on Tuesday to reportedly ask Trump to reconsider. A number of other companies signed a letter that was published today as a full-page ad in both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times expressing the same concern.

According to Axios, Cook sent an email to to Apple employees today confirming his attempt on Tuesday to convince Trump to remain part of the accord. “Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment,” Cook wrote in the email. “Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waver, because we know that future generations depend on us.”

Many corporate leaders like Cook tried, and apparently failed, to appeal to Trump’s nationalistic tendencies. They do so by trying to reiterate the damage the withdrawal could do to America’s business interests, as well as its ability to compete on the global stage with the nearly 200 other members of the Paris climate deal. Despite those efforts, Trump is now following through with his promise to try and renegotiate the agreement, a task some EU countries have already said is virtually impossible.

Update 5:50PM ET, 6/1: Added statement from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Update 8:11PM ET, 6/1: Added excerpt from email Apple CEO Tim Cook sent to company employees today.