The U.S. on Wednesday officially became the first country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Administration officials filed the withdrawal paperwork a year ago, after President Donald Trump pledged in 2017 to withdraw, saying that the agreement "is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States."
Several countries, including Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen, originally signed the 2015 agreement but did not formally adopt it.
If former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidential election, he has promised to immediately rejoin the pact, which calls for countries to report their progress on their voluntary emissions targets. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. committed to emissions reductions by 2025.
The U.S. withdrawal "will have a profoundly deleterious effect," said Ceres CEO and President Mindy Lubber in an interview. "It will give any company an excuse to get out. It also takes the U.S. out of the global debate in a way that is negative for our economy," said Ms. Lubber, who predicts that American companies could lag behind European auto manufacturers and renewable energy companies, among others seeking to prepare for a greener economy. "It takes the U.S. out of a lot of the economic upside," she said.
Still, said Ms. Lubber, when it comes to addressing climate change, "globally there is enough momentum. I do think the wind is in our sails globally."
In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will strengthen its climate target to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, and in October Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his country's goal is net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
"All sorts of companies are committing to net zero," Ms. Lubber said. "I think companies are feeling pressure by the investors, and that really raises the stakes."