By nature most CEOs are cautious and thoughtful in both words and actions. So what might have been the most surprising thing Thursday was not that U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the Paris Agreement climate control deal, but the response he sparked from a number of CEOs that voiced their strong opposition publicly to his decision.
It is an unprecedented and bizarre moment for American history, said a presidential historian. He called the reaction by the CEOs a sign of the state of damage that Trump brand has in the eyes of those running corporate America.
The historian added that Trump has become a huge pariah figure and companies do not want any association with his brand. He is promoting polluted water and dirty air. He is anti-science so why would a CEO at a Fortune 500 company want to have an association with him.
Trump’s critics are worried that companies in the U.S. will miss opportunities to profit from the worldwide move to lower carbon emissions.
Businesses, consumers and countries will spend trillions of dollars during the coming years on greener equipment, vehicles and power sources.
In the short term, CEOs could be worried over selling products abroad, where Trump’s pullback from the accord has received an overwhelmingly negative reaction.
There may be a stigma that becomes attached with every U.S. company regardless if you are marketing a product in Europe or a movie in Asia, you need to be worried how Trump’s decision has been perceived.
It is not only the people in the remainder of the world who have become upset with the actions by the president. The decision has gone over well with those supporting him, but a poll just completed by Harvard University and Politico has found that 62% of Americans were in favor of remaining in the Paris pact.
Opposition came quickly from environmentalists in Silicon Valley such as Elon Musk the CEO at Tesla, who was the first member of the president’s advisory committee to quit in protest.
Musk was followed by bankers on Wall Street such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfien, who at one time was the boss of a top economic adviser for Trump.
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt also expressed his disapproval through a tweet on Twitter. He did that knowing GE is depending upon the U.S. government for over $3 billion of its sales and more than $600 million in R&D spending that it sponsored by the government.
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger quit the advisory council of the president in protest. Tech executives, who are the head of some companies that are the most valuable on earth, criticized the president as well.
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