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Once a critic, Chamber of Commerce now backs Paris Climate Agreement

Illustration of a hand holding up a sphere with the United Nations logo
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Ahead of President Trump’s move this week to complete America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce quietly updated its position to support it.

Why it matters: This is the starkest reversal from the Chamber, America’s most powerful business lobby group, since it began pursuing a broader shift months ago to more readily acknowledge and engage on climate change.

The intrigue: The Chamber helped commission a controversial study in March 2017 concluding the Obama administration’s commitment to the Paris deal would cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million jobs. Trump cited that study, inaccurately in some ways, a few months later when he announced his intent to withdraw from the deal.

Where it stands: The Chamber’s climate-change statement now includes the following clause, emphasis added, finishing this sentence: “Greater collaboration between governments and businesses is essential to build the best models to tackle climate challenges, which is why the Chamber supports U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement.”

Flashback: Chamber officials have hinted at this Paris reversal before, including in a congressional hearing in April and a Politico article from August. But this is the first time the powerful lobby group is making it an official part of its mission statement.

For the record: Chamber spokesman Matt Letourneau said the change was made to be clearer ahead of Nov. 4, which began the one-year clock for the U.S. government to officially get out of the 2015 accord.

  • He also said the Chamber has expressed concerns about the Obama administration’s commitment to the Paris deal, but not the deal itself.

The bottom line: That distinction, however, is one the group has only emphasized since the Chamber’s broader shift on climate change started this year.