Even Automakers Disagree With Trump's Choice to Abandon the Paris Accord

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
even automakers disagree with trumps choice to abandon the paris accord

On Thursday, President Trump made the decision to ditch the Paris climate accord and the entire internet seemingly spent the next twelve hours calling it a misstep. Either the president possesses a hidden wisdom on the subject that nobody else can seem to fathom, or he has severely misjudged the public’s position on environmental issues. Calling the accord “unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump suggested the deal was detrimental to the country’s manufacturing efforts and gave other nations a financial advantage.

However, the instant feedback from the automotive industry did not appear to share his viewpoint. With nearly 200 other countries still adhering to the nonbinding Paris agreement, it’s almost as if Trump had forgotten car companies operate on a global stage. Both General Motors and Ford Motor Company issued statements in opposition to Trump’s decision.

“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” announced Ford. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our lineup.”

General Motors’ statement was similar in tone: “GM will not waver from our commitment to the environment and our position on climate change has not changed. International agreements aside, we remain committed to creating a better environment.”

The automaker also confirmed CEO Mary Barra will continue to serve on the President’s Strategy and Policy Forum because it “provides GM a seat at an important table to contribute to a constructive dialogue about key policy issues.”

However, Elon Musk’s seat at that table did not seem to sway Trump’s final decision on the matter. As a result, the head of Tesla chose to abandon his post after publicly promising to do so if the president pulled out of the Paris agreement. “Climate change is real,” Musk said in a tweet. “Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

Even oil companies like Exxon and Shell didn’t stand by the choice. Exxon’s environmental manager, Peter Trelenberg, wrote a letter — published in the Financial Times — urging the president to reconsider. Meanwhile, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden has been a longtime and highly vocal proponent of the agreement.

It’s true that automotive companies want some leeway when it comes to emissions standards. One of Trump’s first days in office was spent meeting with industry heads to discuss exactly that. However, none of them can risk becoming a social outcast.

Furthermore, most automakers have invested heavily into new technologies designed specifically to adhere to more stringent environmental guidelines. Regardless of individual beliefs about climate change, the table has been set and the industry has sat down with tech in hand after having sunk billions of dollars into R&D. American automakers must engineer their product to a global benchmark, even if the U.S. government says its alright to take it easy. It’s not financially sound to develop a completely divergent product line for the domestic market when you’re also selling cars in Europe and Asia.

Even within North America, automakers would have to adhere to higher standards in Canada and certain states that vehemently oppose rolling back regulatory guidelines. Practically every foreign leader condemned Trump’s decision, while Californian governor Jerry Brown had things covered stateside. “He’s wrong on the facts,” Brown said. “America’s economy is boosted by following the Paris Agreement. He’s wrong on the science. Totally wrong. California will resist this misguided and insane course of action.”

Still, there are many who would disagree. Several Republican senators came out in favor of the president, most notably West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito and Oklahoma’s James Inhofe — both of whom claimed the decision was in the best interest of the U.S. workforce. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA administrator Scott Pruitt were also in opposition to the Paris accord and helped to influence Trump’s final decision.

The president concluded his time on the White House lawn by suggesting abandoning environmental concerns would bolster cities like Detroit — bringing back manual labor jobs and returning America to its former glory. However, that’s difficult to believe. Even if you detach yourself from partisanship and environmental issues entirely, you’re left with the practical problem of how to sell vehicles abroad that don’t adhere to the same global standard of your competitors.

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  • Markf Markf on Jun 05, 2017

    “If [Trump] had known that destroying the planet was going to send the left and the media crazy to this degree, he’d have done it a lot earlier,” Steyn said to host Neil Cavuto. “It’s cartoon science. That’s why they like it, because it’s simple and it appeals to them,” he added later. “These people are invested in a cartoon idea of science that actually thinks that if you get all of the clever people around the table, they can set the global thermostat for the year 2100 and the planet is going to comply with that.” Mark Steyn

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Jun 05, 2017

      “These people are invested in a cartoon idea of science that actually thinks that if you get all of the clever people around the table, they can set the global thermostat for the year 2100 and the planet is going to comply with that.” The sarcasm is heavy with this one.

  • TR4 TR4 on Jun 05, 2017

    It seems to me that a major result of the Kyoto and Paris agreements was Europe moving to Diesel powered automobiles to reduce carbon footprint. That worked out well, NOT!

  • ToolGuy ""In the future it will be like this: the odd numbers will be the combustion engines and the even numbers will stand for the battery-electric vehicles,”• Your Audi has a combustion engine? That's odd.
  • ToolGuy "What really made the 1979-1985 Eldorado Biarritz distinctive was this stainless-steel roof panel"• It is not possible to manufacture automotive parts from stainless steel. It must be true because I read it on TTAC.Also, Debt is Amazing and never causes any problems, ever. (Also read this on TTAC)
  • Kcflyer How about, "Fancy VW"?
  • Kcflyer Would be very interested, despite the 4 banger, if not for the direct injection garbage.
  • Wayne back in 55 when I was 10 Grandpa started with 'back her out' of the garage, then on day he crawls into the passenger side and say's take her to the post office. teach them early as you can