Dear Mr Trump: We need a low-carbon USA, say 600 firms

More than 630 of America's largest companies and investors have renewed calls for President-elect Donald Trump to re-consider his climate change denial stance and support the nation's low-carbon policies.

Five hundred and thirty companies – including Hilton, General Mills and Unilever – and 100 investors – including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and Trillium Asset Management – have signed a statement of support in advance of next week’s Presidential inauguration. 

The statement specifically calls on Trump to maintain America’s low-carbon policies to meet national commitments; and to continue the country’s participation in the Paris Agreement in support of international efforts to curb global warming – following fears that the new President could pull the US out of the accord on account of his outspoken climate change denial.

“We want the US economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy,”

“Cost-effective and innovative solutions can help us achieve these objectives. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness.”

Paris pledge

Support for the low-carbon economy among America’s big businesses is stronger than ever: almost half of the country’s Fortune 500 firms now have targets in place to reduce emissions, purchase renewable energy and increase energy efficiency.

In their statement of support this week, the business signatories – which also includes L’Oreal USA, Nike and Starbucks – reaffirmed a “deep commitment” to addressing climate change, and pledged to do their part – in their own operations and beyond – to “realise the Paris Agreement’s commitment” of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well-below 2C.

More than half of the statement’s signatories released a separate statement of support for the Paris Agreement at the COP22 climate talks in Marrakech last November. The number of signatories for that statement has nearly doubled in the 60 days since then and more companies and investors are expected to sign over the coming weeks.

Anna Walker, senior director of global policy and advocacy at Levi Strauss & Co – one of this week’s signatories – said: “It’s imperative that businesses take an active role in meeting the goals set out by the Paris Agreement. It will be critical that we work together to ensure the US maintains its climate leadership, ultimately ensuring our nation’s long-term economic prosperity.”

Obama’s last stand

The statement was released on the same day that Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama used his last official address to the nation to tout some of the positive green policies enacted by his administration, adding that the Government must keep the momentum going throughout Trump’s reign and beyond.

“In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet,” Obama said. “But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects ― environmental disasters, economic disruptions and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.”

At noon local time (5pm GMT) on Friday 20 January, Donald Trump will take the Oath of Office and be sworn in as America’s 45th president, officially replacing Barack Obama. Trump will then give an inaugural address which is expected to be around 20 minutes in length.

Luke Nicholls

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