US tech giants join alliance to honour Paris climate agreement

Tunia Cherian | | Updated on: Jun 06, 2017
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US tech giants, government leaders, investors, universities, and companies have agreed to fight global warming by reducing carbon emissions and honour the Paris Agreement on climate change, days after President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the landmark deal.

Various companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel and Microsoft are among the hundreds of businesses that declared their intention to continue working toward reducing carbon emissions.

The firms who were noticeably absent were Oracle, IBM, and all the major telecommunications providers.

“In the absence of leadership from Washington, states, cities, colleges and universities and businesses representing a sizeable percentage of the US economy will pursue ambitious climate goals, working together to take forceful action and to ensure that the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions,” the coalition, which now consists of more than 1,000 entities, said in a statement yesterday.

The US joined the Paris agreement in 2015. Nearly 200 countries are part of the accord and have agreed to fight global warming by reducing carbon emissions. Scientists anticipate climate change could push the Earth to dangerous temperatures much sooner with US retreat from the pledge because the country burns so much energy.

The coalition, calling itself “We are still in,” includes leaders from nine states, 125 cities, 902 businesses and investors, and 183 colleges and universities. The effort is led by philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“In the absence of a supportive federal coordinating role, these actors will more closely coordinate their own recarbonisation actions,” Bloomberg wrote in a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General.

“Collectively, they will redouble their efforts to ensure that the US achieves the carbon emissions reductions it pledged under the Paris Agreement.”

Trump’s withdrawal from the pact drew swift condemnation from several tech giants last week, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who said he spoke with Trump earlier in the week in an effort to persuade him not to withdraw from the pact.

In addition to Cook, the CEOs of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, HP, Intel and Tesla also asked Trump to stay in the agreement. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, made good on his threat to leave several of the president’s advisory councils if the president pulled the US out of the climate deal.

Cities and states across the US, governors and over 200 mayors have vowed to keep fighting climate change and adopt clean energy technologies, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the country from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We Are Still In” represents the most serious attempt yet by local officials, business executives, and private-sector leaders to buck the Trump administration’s decision, which sent political shockwaves around the world.

Participants vowed to meet the Paris agreement’s target of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

They also pledged to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

“In the US, it is local and state governments, along with businesses, that are primarily responsible for the dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years,” the group wrote in an open letter to the international community.

“Actions by each group will multiply and accelerate in the years ahead, no matter what policies Washington may adopt,” they wrote.

The new coalition includes dozens of university and college leaders, including the chancellors of six University of California campuses, the president of New York University, plus schools from many states in between the coasts.

Nineteen attorneys general joined the group, including New York AG Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts AG Maura Healy, both of whom are investigating Exxon Mobil for allegedly deceiving investors on the company’s climate risks

The coalition intends to submit a “Societal Nationally Determined Contribution” to the UN, which will be called “America’s Pledge” and account for the climate-fighting efforts of US cities, states, businesses, and other subnational actors.

It would be rare, if not unprecedented, for a coalition like this to formally join a UN treaty meant for nations to sign.

Published on January 12, 2018

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