The world’s top two power companies have reacted to the decision by President Donald Trump to opt out of the Paris Agreement.
The agreement signed by almost all of the world’s heads of state at the end of 2016 received a blow last week when the US, the Earth’s second largest carbon emitter, decided not to be part of the accord.
Mr Trump said that it puts American workers at an “economic disadvantage” and that it is “unfair” for the US economy.
Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, tweeted that he was ‘disappointed with the decision on the Paris Agreement’, adding ‘Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.’
Previously Immelt had made his views known on the subject, unambiguously stating, “We are for staying in the treaty. I think global engagement is a good thing. Withdrawing from the Paris accord is not going to change one thing that we do regarding energy efficiency . . . and I think all business is going to feel the same way.”
Earlier this year in his corporate blog, GE’s top executive said, “Our customers, partners and countries are demanding technology that generates power while reducing emissions, improving energy efficiency and reducing cost. We’ve invested $20B in R&D in these areas since 2005. It’s paid off. Our portfolio of Ecomagination products has generated more than $270B in revenue over the past 12 years. These are solutions for multiple technologies, from renewable energy to gas to coal. We will continue to work to reduce our company’s environmental footprint. Since we launched Ecomagination in 2005, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 31 per cent, reduced freshwater use by more than 42 per cent and generated more than $400m in cumulative cost savings from energy efficiency in our operations.”
“Industry must now lead and not depend on government. Solving challenges such as energy access and improving environmental performance remain critical and are engrained in our business operations.”
Meanwhile Siemens were equally forthright. In a statement the company said, “Siemens has committed to cut our global carbon footprint in half by 2020 and to make our global operations carbon neutral by 2030. This commitment is not contingent on international treaties or regulations.”
“Siemens supports the Paris Climate Accord signed by 194 countries as it is an important element in enabling and encouraging governments, other businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to tackle climate change. Siemens is disappointed by President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.”
“Along with other major corporations from around the globe, Siemens understands that taking action to address the causes of climate change is not only prudent, but also makes economic sense. Siemens’ $110 million investment targeting our facilities will pay for itself in just five years and generate at least $20 million in annual savings thereafter.”
“The company recognizes that an increased push for energy efficiency, renewable energy technology and electric mobility, along with the growing digitalization movement and carbon pricing, will speed up a carbon-free future, supporting the growth of a global middle class as well as prosperity for developing countries and increased resilience of economies.”
Other notable energy industry companies have expressed dismay at the US decision. CEO of Shell, and former Exxon Mobil CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had urged Mr Trump to stay in the Paris accord.
Twenty Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, eBay, Gap Inc., Google, Intel, Microsoft, Nike, and several universities are among the signatories to the “We Are Still In” initiative, aimed at driving corporate committment to the accord, despite government direction.