As President Trump eyes backing out of the world’s largest climate agreement, he may lose one of his most prominent advisors from the tech world. Today on Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that if President Trump publicly withdraws from the international Paris Agreement, Musk will respond by withdrawing from all White house advisory councils.
“[I] don’t know which way Paris will go,” Musk tweeted, “but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain.” When asked what he would do if Trump withdraws from the Paris Agreement, Musk responded, “will have no choice but to depart councils in that case.” Musk currently advises the president’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative, as well as the Strategic and Policy Forum.
The president has yet to make a public decision on whether the US will remain in the Paris Agreement, but this morning, Axios reported he had privately decided to withdraw. The Paris Agreement is voluntary and carries no penalties for nations that fail to meet their set targets, leading many to question the benefit of a formal withdrawal, even in the absence of decarbonization efforts.
Musk has drawn harsh criticism for his willingness to serve on the Trump administration’s various advisory councils, but has defended the move as a way to influence the president on crucial climate issues, including the Paris Agreement and carbon tax proposals. Musk’s businesses benefit significantly from tax credits for electric cars and solar panel installations, and NASA contracts are one of SpaceX’s primary sources of revenue. Still, Musk has long argued his advocacy is focused on climate policy rather than personal gain, a stance confirmed by today’s statement.
At the same time, the effects of global climate change continue to be felt around the world. NASA records showed 2016 as the warmest year on record, recorded as 1.78 degrees Farenheit warmer than the 20th century average.