President Donald Trump today is expected to fulfill his campaign promise of withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement -- an accord signed by all but two of 197 countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that if Trump backs out of the deal, he'll leave the two presidential advisory councils he's sat on since the beginning of the administration.
Regulations that push for stricter control of greenhouse gas emissions benefit companies such as an electric car maker, but Tesla is not the only company that expressed support for the Paris agreement. In March, oil company ExxonMobil sent a letter to Trump saying government agreements such as this help level the field for businesses, which need to make massive investments in technology to meet global regulations.
"Therefore, the United States should advocate for policies that promote innovation and flexibility afforded by competition and free markets to help ensure the world pursues the most cost-effective opportunities to meet people's energy needs and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions," wrote Peter Trelenberg, Exxon's manager of environmental policy and planning.
Musk faced a decent amount of backlash from his fans after agreeing to advise Trump — including one man's multimillion-dollar campaign to persuade him to leave the councils. In fact, the social media reaction to Trump's economic advisory roster was enough to make Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit the group before its first meeting. Musk stood strong, however, repeatedly tweeting about how he had the ear of a president threatening to gut the EPA and ban immigrants from entering the U.S.
The Tesla CEO has built a reputation on tackling the impossible in the name of benefiting mankind: getting humans to Mars, creating an affordable solar energy system and making electric cars cool. These lofty goals have catapulted Musk to superhero status in the eyes of some people (including the band who created this music video).
In the end, a major repercussion for U.S.-based global corporations of the nation backing out of the Paris agreement would be financial. Companies such as Tesla, Exxon and all of the automakers and supply chain will still need to meet worldwide demand for lower greenhouse emissions. But they won't have the backing of the U.S. government, nor the loan incentives or government partnerships to meet those goals. And that hits companies where it hurts.
— Katie Burke and Sharon Silke Carty