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We Mean Business

5 ways Trump’s Paris withdrawal reignited climate action

From international partnerships to state action, the fight for climate has reached celebrity status.

President Donald Trump’s regrettable decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris Climate Agreement was met with widespread dismay. However, the reactions from many political leaders, multinational businesses and the general public have been one of emboldened support for climate action.

One of the most striking reactions has been the forging of new alliances to ensure support for climate action and the Paris Agreement remains strong. Here are five examples of the amazing collaboration taking place globally in the wake of the announcement: "We’re Still In."

1. Companies unite

A group of more than 2,000 businesses, investors, mayors, governors, college and university leaders joined the We Are Still In open letter to demonstrate their commitment to the Paris Agreement, kickstarting a global movement that continues to gain momentum.   

The collective represents the broadest cross-section of the American economy to date assembled in pursuit of climate action and is committed to working together "to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions."

The reaction from forward-looking businesses has been particularly strong, with a string of company executives taking to Twitter to voice their disappointment.

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger and Tesla CEO Elon Musk both quit the president's business council over the decision. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein used his first tweet to describe the planned withdrawal as "a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world."

Meanwhile, there’s growing evidence that standing up for climate action is good for business. A portfolio tracking the performance of We Are Still In companies, featuring 70 of the major companies, shows a clear outperformance compared to the S&P 500 benchmark over the past year.

2. U.S. states take the initiative

Shortly after the decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, a coalition of 12 states announced that they would take action to meet the country’s commitments, despite the absence of federal government leadership.

The U.S. Climate Alliance, which represents around 19 percent of all US CO2 emissions, has pledged to take action to reduce their emissions by at least 26-28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005. Around 300 cities also have announced their support of efforts to meet U.S. Paris commitments.

3. Macron and Modi join forces  

France’s President Emmanuel Macron and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to work together to cut carbon emissions and reaffirmed their commitments to the Paris Agreement, in the wake of the U.S. announcement.

"In the fight for our planet, we plan to work side-by-side," Macron said.

France is the 17th largest carbon emitter and India is the third, according to government data, but the EU as a whole would be the third largest emitter, pushing India into fourth place.

4. California teams up with China and Germany

California has forged new links with both China and Germany in a bid to bolster efforts to reduce emissions. The U.S. state has signed an agreement to work together with China and also agreed to take joint action against climate change with Germany.

Trump’s pull-out "underscores the important role that non-state actors, and particularly subnational actors play in achieving the overall objective and goals of the agreement," said a joint statement issued by German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

5. EU and China strengthen ties

At the 19th Summit between the European Union and the People's Republic of China, leaders from both countries reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement and highlighted the importance of fostering cooperation in their energy policies.

At the joint press conference following the summit, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said:

As far as the European side is concerned, we were happy to see that China is agreeing to our unhappiness about the American climate decision. This is helpful, this is responsible, and this is about inviting both China and the European Union to proceed with the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, the resolve among forward-looking business leaders remains as strong as ever. This month, the number of companies making commitments, via the We Mean Business coalition’s Take Action campaign, has pushed the total to over 580 companies. Together, they have made more than 1,220 bold commitments on climate action.

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