Elon Musk, Bob Iger Leave Trump's Advisory Councils After Administration's Split From Paris Climate Accord [Updated]
Elon Musk says he's leaving two White House advisory councils as a response to President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. Musk had served on two panels that focused, separately, on manufacturing and economics, reports the L.A. Times.
Musk announced his decision on, what else, Twitter:
Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2017
He followed it up with tweet reminding us that China is making strides under the Paris Climate Accord:
Musk had made his stance clear during the days before Trump's decision:
Don't know which way Paris will go, but I've done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017
Other notable figures in tech made similar pleas with the President—according to Bloomberg, Apple's Tim Cook had personally called the White House to urge the president to stay with the agreement.
Musk's decision to join the President's advisory team was marked with controversy, as some had criticized Musk for associating with Trump (the two men are ideologically opposed on the topic of climate change, among other things). Musk also met backlash for his support of Trump's decision to establish Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
Responding to the criticism, Musk has maintained that he's serving on the councils to "make a positive contribution." When the first iteration of the travel ban was announced in January, the pressure for Musk to quit the team intensified. As reported at Fortune, Musk decided to stay on, saying in a statement that while he opposed the ban, he also thought his presence could help "accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and to help make humanity a multi-planet civilization, a consequence of which will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and a more inspiring future for all." He added, "I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good."
In January, Musk spoke with Gizmodo about the prospect of a carbon tax that's used to, theoretically, help reduce emissions. When asked about the plausibility of a carbon tax in a Trump administration (Gizmodo noted that the President had made claims that global warming is a hoax), Musk said that the publication was "missing the point," adding that, "This is something we need to strive for and the more voices of reason that the President hears, the better. Simply attacking him will achieve nothing. Are you aware of a single case where Trump bowed to protests or media attacks? Better that there are open channels of communication."
Upon learning of Musk's decision to quit the council, some on Twitter referred to Musk's past statements:
I thought having a seat at the table was the only way to affect change? ....— Josh Olin | @Rug_Radar Presale ⏸ (@JD_2020) June 1, 2017
I'm just curious as to why the change of plan. Is it felt like the only way to send a message is now to boycott the administration?— Josh Olin | @Rug_Radar Presale ⏸ (@JD_2020) June 1, 2017
Some also implored him to stay on the councils:
Somehow I think you could do more good for the world by staying on the councils. Leaving only makes things worse. They need your brain, sir— Doriano Carta (@Paisano) June 1, 2017
Trump can't be reasoned with. He doesn't care about facts. Elon's time is better spent fighting him elsewhere.— shauna (@goldengateblond) June 1, 2017
As noted at CNN Money, there's plenty at stake for Musk, as SpaceX has relied on government funding. The company is working with a $1.6 billion contract from NASA to send supplies to the International Space Station. It also signed on for an $82.7 million contract to send a U.S. Air Force satellite into space in 2018.
LAist reached out to SpaceX to see if Musk has an additional statement about his decision to leave the councils, but have yet to hear back at time of publication.
[Update: 4:45 p.m.]
As reported by Variety, Disney CEO Bob Iger has also announced his decision to leave a White House advisory council—named the "President’s Strategic and Policy Forum"—as a response to the president's decision on the Climate Accord: