WASHINGTON – If President Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, he will be moving against the wishes of some of Minnesota’s biggest companies.
“We would be incredibly disappointed if the U.S. decides to withdraw from the agreement to which our country had committed,” Cargill CEO David MacLennan said Wednesday in a statement to the Star Tribune. “Signing the accord means being a champion for U.S. economic growth and job creation. Caring about sustainability of the planet is not only the right thing to do for people and the environment, it is also good business.”
Three weeks ago in an open letter to Trump, MacLennan and 3M CEO Inge Thulin joined 28 other powerful U.S. corporate leaders who said the 195-nation agreement to limit man-made climate change would help American companies become more efficient and competitive.
“We believe there is strong potential for negative trade implications if the United States exits from the Paris Agreement,” the executives wrote to Trump. “Our business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced response to reducing global [green house gas] emissions.”
In addition to the letter signed by MacLennan and Thulin, Cargill, Target, General Mills and Best Buy all signed the Obama administration’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Each company promised to support the Paris climate deal while implementing their own individual climate friendly policies.
As Trump reportedly nears a decision to pull out of the Paris pact, the U.S.’s environmental leadership and its reputation “stand to lose,” said Mehmet Konar-Steenberg, an expert in energy and environmental law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “The rest of the world is not going to say, ‘Let’s follow the United States backwards on climate change.’ ”
Some Minnesota companies declined to comment until Trump’s decision becomes official. But a recent blog post by Best Buy’s corporate responsibility and sustainability officer, Laura Bishop, laid out her company’s take: “We encourage the U.S. and the nearly 200 parties who signed the United Nations’ Climate Agreement to remain committed to limiting global temperature increase. This collective action will result in a healthier world for generations to come.”
Best Buy, she added, is on target to reduce carbon emissions 45 percent from 2009 to 2020 by automating heating, lighting and air conditioning and converting its Geek Squad car fleet to hybrid vehicles.
News that the country could bail on the climate deal brought strong reactions from some Democrats in Minnesota’s congressional delegation.
“If the United States cedes its leadership on clean energy by backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement, it will hurt our ability to compete in the 21st century global economy,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. “We need to keep building on the progress we’ve made to combat climate change and boost clean energy, not roll it back.”
Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said that if the Trump administration withdraws from the pact, the U.S. would be turned into “an environmental rogue nation.”
Republicans in Minnesota’s congressional delegation did not respond to requests for comment or said its was premature to opine before the official announcement.
At the conservative Heritage Foundation, senior research fellow David Kreutzer, said executives who favor the Paris pact are mistaken in their belief that fighting climate change is necessary or good for business.
“It is an expensive nonsolution to a nonexistent problem,” he said.