Many major United States business leaders urged President Donald Trump to remain in the Paris climate accord. Still, the president decided to ignore their recommendations, choosing instead to exit the agreement. Now, some members of Trump's business councils are jumping ship, while others refuse to leave.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger decided to resign from Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative promptly after the president announced he would be exiting the Paris accord.
On Twitter, Iger said he would be leaving his position as an adviser out of principle, while Musk mentioned he was departing the councils because leaving the agreement was bad for the country.
As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) June 1, 2017
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
Still, at least 23 others who have made claims to be fighting climate change remain. They include Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, PepsiCo. CEO Indra Nooyi, Newell Brands CEO Michael Polk, Dell CEO Michael Dell, and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, whose tech competitors wrote a letter to the president asking him to reconsider his stance on the Paris accord.
Unlike Musk and Iger, Rometty decided to remain as a White House adviser. According to IBM's statement, the company “believes we can make a constructive contribution by having a direct dialogue with the Administration.”
Other business leaders who are still part of the councils include JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Whirlpool Corporation CEO Jeff Fettig, International Paper CEO Mark Sutton, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, The Boston Consulting Group CEO Rich Lesser, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, Corning CEO Wendell Weeks, The Timken Company President Rich Kyle, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
After Trump's decision, many advisers said they had disagreements with the administration but still considered their position important.
“You are never going to agree with all decisions that are made by elected officials, but stepping away from an advisory role on manufacturing policy doesn’t make sense,” Sutton said in a statement.
To GM's Barra, being part of Trump's councils offers the company “a seat at an important table to contribute to a constructive dialogue about key policy issues.”
Despite the different approaches, many CEOs have voiced their frustrations with the administration over the Paris agreement. Yet their refusal to step down may still cause them trouble down the road as the public may view them as less principled. Regardless, it's difficult to see how any of these business leaders will have any influence changing Trump's mind on climate if pressure coming from some of the most powerful tech companies in the country still didn't do the trick.