UN secretary-general confident businesses will do what Trump will not on climate: G7 Summit

Shawn M. Carter

At the 45th G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Monday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters that he’s “very optimistic” American businesses will take action to protect against climate change, even if President Donald Trump does not.

“I think what is important is … if you look at the U.S. society, you see states, you see cities [and] you see businesses that are leading in relation to climate action. It’s not only governments that matter,” he said, “it’s the capacity of civil society, the business community and local authorities that will determine the level of emissions and the contribution of the country to the climate action. And so I am very optimistic about the American society and its capacity to deliver in relation to climate action.”

In 2017, President Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Parris Climate Agreement, signed by 195 nations and aimed at joint efforts to combat climate change. The president said he wanted to negotiate a better deal, arguing that the U.S. economy would lose revenue and jobs as part of the agreement.

Since then, corporations abroad, and in the United States, including I.B.M., General Electric and Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and energy company Tesla, have spoken out against the decision: “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real,” Musk wrote on Twitter in 2017. “Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

Now, a new ranking called the Carbon Clean 200 points out which companies, including some well-known U.S. brands, are making green initiatives a priority. The ranking analyzes things like how much revenue companies bring in through clean energy.

HP, Cisco Systems and Google-parent company Alphabet, for example, are making efforts like creating new products from recycled materials and powering plants with solar energy.

Guterres is on board: “We are now facing a dramatic climate emergency,” Guterres said. “And so it’s absolutely essential that countries commit themselves to increase what was promised in Paris. … We need more ambition, we need a stronger commitment.”

And whether President Trump is willing to sit down with him on the matter doesn't matter, he continued. “What matters here is to have the strong engagement of the American society and of the American business community and the American local authorities.”

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