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Top US CEOs slam Trump for pulling out of climate accord

America's top chief executives are in revolt against reality TV's pretender.

United States President Donald Trump's ill-informed decision to quit the Paris climate accord drew swift opposition from some of the country's most influential bosses, including the heads of Disney, General Electric (GE) and Goldman Sachs.

Losing fellow businessmen this early in the game bodes ill for the administration's economic promises.

Tesla boss Elon Musk carried out his threat to resign from the US president's advisory council shortly after Mr Trump made his Rose Garden announcement. Disney chief Bob Iger quickly followed his lead.

Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein was so incensed he took to Twitter for the first time to decry the decision as "a setback for the environment and for the US' leadership position in the world".

GE's Jeffrey Immelt echoed the disappointment in his own tweet, saying: "Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government."

That is the kind of language executives usually reserve for left-leaning administrations. For Mr Trump, who styles himself as a CEO president, it amounts to a severe rebuke.

The corporate leaders are also, by extension, expressing their disapproval of the Republican-controlled Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, after all, both support Mr Trump's stance on Paris.

Making matters worse is how Mr Trump distorted analysis from NERA to claim that 6.5 million industrial jobs and US$3 trillion (S$4.2 trillion) of gross domestic product would be lost by 2040 if the country stuck with the accord.

That was the economic consultancy's worst-case scenario, already debunked by the World Resources Institute.

But Mr Trump's fondness for it is yet more evidence of his distaste for facts and his preference for clinging to a rose-tinted view of the past rather than preparing the US for future economic and environmental challenges. That will stick in the craw of companies that are focused on innovative technologies.

Business was quick to rally to Mr Trump's side after his unexpected election victory last November, hoping he would deliver on his promises of tax and regulatory reform.

Those initiatives have been stalled, however, by the administration's internal chaos and divisions within Congress.

Alienating corporate America over climate change risks leaving those goals even further out of reach.

The writer is a Reuters 
Breakingviews columnist.

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