MSNBC Live lays out business case for staying in the Paris climate agreement

MSNBC’s Mike Lupica: The Paris agreement “benefits [businesses] too in terms of productivity and efficiency”

From the May 30 edition of MSNBC Live:

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STEPHANIE RUHLE (HOST): President Trump says a decision on whether he plans to pull out of the Paris climate accord will come this week. If Trump does decide to bail out of the agreement, it will put him at odds with companies like Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Hilton, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Tesla, Google, and the Dow Chemical Company, just to name a few. Here for more on the business perspective, CNBC contributor Ron Insana, and I’ve got my panel back with me, Mike Lupica and Megan Murphy. Ron, is the Paris accord good or bad for business? Because we know business doesn't like volatility, and they've all lined themselves up preparing for it.

RON INSANA: And it’s like a lot of other accords. It's like he Department of Labor’s fiduciary responsibility act for financial firms, which says put the client first. All Wall Street firms got ready for this. And now they’ve contemplated rolling it back. Now you’ve got the Paris climate accords. Most businesses have moved towards a more sustainable form of energy, reducing their carbon footprint, and what have you, against the backdrop of concerns about climate change. So, if we pull out, in the short run, certainly you could see some benefit to companies because their compliance costs go down. In the long run, this is not the way the world is going, and so companies really do have to stay lined up with this accord because, at the end of the day, it also benefits them too in terms of productivity and efficiency and so on.

RUHLE: Then if they pulled out, who would the president be playing to? Who would he be trying to please? As we mentioned, Dow Chemical is in there, Andrew Liveris is the --

INSANA: Exxon’s in there.

RUHLE: Exxon. Andrew Liveris is President Trump’s closest CEO adviser, yet Ted Cruz put out on op-ed over the weekend saying -- urging the president to pull out, saying, “Not only would these unfair standards reduce American job growth and wages and increase monthly utility costs for hard-working families, they would fundamentally disadvantage the United States in the global economy.”

INSANA: Absolutely wrong. If you go back --

RUHLE: In a nutshell.

INSANA: In a nutshell. If you go back and look at history, President Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency. President Reagan got rid of acid rain by reducing sulfur dioxide emissions. Also they reduced the emissions of CFCs to help the ozone layer. Throughout that entire period, the economy has grown and grown and grown with very little negative impact on companies' bottom lines. We've seen corporate profits set records time and time again. This is actually in many ways, even if you don't believe climate change is manmade, it is still a smart thing to do to keep your litter box clean, if you will. It's not a bad idea to do these things.

RUHLE: Then Megan, if it's a smart thing for business, I mean if you hear from the ExxonMobil CEO. And not just that, the Jared, Ivanka, Dina Powell, Gary Cohn contingent. Why wouldn’t the president want to go with this?

MEGAN MURPHY: Oh, and by the way, also 195 other countries as well who are a member of the accord. And big business. It's not just the fact that it's a drift towards sustainable energy and that companies are more focused on that policy, it's also unlocking the trillions that they feel are left on the sidelines in terms of investment. Unlocking smart energy future, moving jobs, infrastructure investment that way, and how that can unlock a different kind of future for American investment, for global investment. If we pull out of this agreement, we are really, truly going to be sidelined, both in terms of what big business wants and in terms of how the world is moving.

MIKE LUPICA: And who’s against the 2015 Paris agreement? Like Syria and Nicaragua. Seriously! You couldn't defend being an opponent of curbing carbon emission in the people's court. It makes no sense. Unless you're going to continue to govern to people wearing “Make America Great” hats at airplane hangar rallies.

INSANA: If you want coal as your primary source of fuel, then by all means pull out of the Paris accord. But what we know is that we are going in a way where new energy sources, new technologies are taking hold. And they actually, as was said, Megan said, listen, this is prompting innovation, large-scale innovation around the country. It is employment opportunity that creates, not destroys.


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