After Trump’s historic blunder in pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, regional leaders, CEOs, and the rest of the world sent a clear message: We’re moving on climate change. And this is why I still have hope.
A couple of days ago, assuming Trump would do exactly what he did yesterday, I wrote an article for HBR about how “U.S. Business Leaders Want to Stay in the Paris Climate Accord.”
Then Trump, true to form, made one of the most economically, scientifically, and morally bankrupt decisions in modern U.S. history. Leaders around the world were ready. They spoke loudly.
Here are just some of the tweets.
1. From CEOs and business leaders
(These included messages from, as WIRED editor Nicholas Thompson pointed out, the “five most valuable companies on earth)…
See, in particular, Jeff Immelt’s statement that “Industry must now lead.” Absolutely.
And two high-profile business leaders took Trump’s decision as a sign that their input was useless, so they left his CEO advisory boards.
(Many commentators have pointed out that they should’ve been disgusted with Trump for many other things before this (misogyny, racism, etc.). That’s true, but I believe they genuinely thought they could influence him at least from the inside…but that’s clearly useless with someone like Trump.)
The Weather Channel in particular made their displeasure known…
2. From Cities and States
Governors and Mayors acted fast, lighting monuments in green…
Trump made a particular point in his speech about how he represents Pittsburgh, not Paris. Well, not so much. And a group called Climate Mayors — representing 40 million people — told the world “we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”
At the state level, the Governors of CA, NY, and WA were ready to go with a new alliance to show state-level commitment to Paris. Welcome to the world, United States Climate Alliance.
3. The Rest of the World
I couldn’t remotely capture all that happened on the international front, but two messages in particular stuck out…
The 3-minute video from French President Emmanuel Macron, in English, is historic-level trolling. He invites all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else interested in building a clean economy, to come to France. And he ends with “Make the Planet Great Again.” Just watch it.
And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chooses his words carefully, saying the “United States federal government” has withdrawn — meaning, we can assume, he’ll be happy to work with states and cities.
These reactions are just the immediate responses within hours. Trump has ensured that the U.S., as a federal entity, is a pariah on the world’s stage as the rest of the planet acts on its biggest challenge.
But our cities, states, and businesses will move forward despite his mythic blunder. And the rest of the world will welcome the chance to work closely with our true leaders.
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