Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said the United States be better off economically and on the world stage by staying in the Paris climate accord.
The Harvard University president emeritus told CNBC’s "Squawk Box" that he "never imagined" an administration that's "way to the right of Exxon on a fossil fuel issue."
President Donald Trump is expected to announce Thursday the U.S. will pull out of the climate agreement involving nearly 200 countries.
The Paris agreement has drawn surprising support from major companies, from oil giants like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell to other corporate giants like Walmart and Apple.
"We need a framework like that to address the challenge of climate change, the risk of climate change," Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil, said Wednesday.
Likewise, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden told NPR earlier this month that talk of leaving the Paris accord risked creating the "unpredictability" that makes business decisions harder.
Elon Musk, CEO of electric carmaker Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, tweeted that he would leave two White House advisory councils if Trump went ahead with this threat to leave the Paris accord.
Under the Paris accord, nearly 200 nations agreed in 2015 to voluntarily cut greenhouse gas emissions in a landmark agreement to fight climate change. The pact became one of President Barack Obama's signature achievements. But Trump campaigned on a promise to nix the deal, saying it would mean stricter environmental policies that would hobble the economy and cost jobs.
A White House official said Wednesday that Trump was planning to pull out of the Paris deal, although a final decision had not been made. And Trump has reversed himself before on major policy pledges, including on whether to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement, a step the president no longer favors.
"How can it be the right thing for the United States to create a world where there are two clubs: Everybody else and the United States, Syria, and Nicaragua," said Summers, the 71st United States Secretary of the Treasury from July 1999 until January 2001.
Syria and Nicaragua have already rejected the climate accord. The U.S. would become the third nation to do so, CNBC reported.
Meanwhile, while Trump has declared that abandoning the Paris climate agreement would be a victory for the American economy, many economists have big doubts.
They say the agreement would likely help create about as many jobs in renewable energy as it might cost in polluting industries, the Associated Press reported.
Should the United States pull out of the pact and seek to protect old-school jobs in coal and oil, it would risk losing the chance to lead the world in developing environmentally friendly technology — and generate the jobs that come with it. What's more, over the haul, climate change itself threatens to impose huge costs on the economy.
"Withdrawing from the Paris agreement is hardly going to create jobs in the U.S.," says Cary Coglianese, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and editor of the book "Does Regulation Kill Jobs?" ''While specific environmental regulations can sometimes lead to job losses, they also can and do lead to job gains — with the result being roughly a wash."
(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).
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