The opposition President-elect Donald Trump will face from large parts of the business community if he makes good on his campaign pledge to exit the Paris Agreement was underlined today, as over 360 businesses and investment firms united in a call for US leaders to build on the country's climate commitments.
The group includes a raft of household names, such as DuPont, Gap Inc., General Mills, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Hilton, HP Inc., Kellogg Company, Levi Strauss & Co., L'Oreal USA, NIKE, Mars Incorporated, Schneider Electric, Starbucks, VF Corporation, and Unilever, as well as multi-billion dollar investors and small businesses.
Their joint statement, released on the sidelines of the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh today, calls on President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump, and other elected US and global leaders to back the Paris Agreement and accelerate efforts to transition to a low carbon economy.
It stresses that meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement will deliver significant commercial and economic, as well as environmental, benefits.
"Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement will enable and encourage businesses and investors to turn the billions of dollars in existing low-carbon investments into the trillions of dollars the world needs to bring clean energy prosperity to all," the statement reads. "Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk."
The statement comes ahead of out-going US Secretary of State John Kerry's address to the COP22 Summit later this afternoon.
It also forms the latest front in a wide-ranging effort to encourage Trump to re-think his opposition to the Paris Agreement and the Obama administration's domestic climate policies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and diplomats from China and the EU have all argued in recent days that the falling cost of clean technologies means global efforts to tackle climate change are now "unstoppable", regardless of the stance of the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, Obama and French President Francois Hollande have both reportedly called on Trump to reconsider his position on the Paris Agreement, and French Presidential candidate Nicholas Sarkozy has argued the US should face carbon export tariffs if it unilaterally exits the treaty.
Business leaders have today similarly lined up to argue it is in America's self-interest to embrace ambitious climate policies.
"Now more than ever, Levi Strauss & Co. believes it is important to reaffirm our commitment to address climate change by supporting the Paris Climate Agreement," said Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co. "Building an energy-efficient economy in the US, powered by low-carbon energy will ensure our nation's competitiveness and position US companies as leaders in the global market - all while doing the right thing for our planet."
Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, added that large numbers of businesses and investors were increasingly concerned about escalating climate risks and were demanding a coherent response from policymakers.
"The enormous momentum generated by the business and investment community to address climate change cannot be reversed and cannot be ignored by the Trump administration," he said. "That train has left the station and to stand in its way is folly. Nevertheless, we know that now is the time to remind the incoming administration that virtually every company in the Fortune 500 and over $100tr in investor assets has acknowledged the reality of climate change and the need to address in head on."
The statement commits the signatories to build on their own efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and bolster their climate resilience, while also calling on US politicians to retain existing low carbon policies, invest in the low carbon economy, and provide policy certainty by continuing US participation in the Paris Agreement.
Trump is yet to comment on his environmental plans since pulling off last week's shock election victory. But observers are concerned that he has appointed a number of high profile climate sceptic commentators and fossil fuel industry lobbyists to his transition team.
Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh is director of CAST (Climate change and Social Transformations) at the University of Bath
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