Mars Incorporated Criticizes Trump's Decision To Leave Paris Climate Accord
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And as Mara said, some of the country's biggest corporations turned out to be among the most vocal critics of the president's pledge to back out of the Paris agreement. Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Starbucks have all voiced their support for the accord. There are many more on that list, including Mars, Incorporated. Think Milky Way, Snickers, M&M's, lots of Pedigree pet food.
Andy Pharoah is the company's vice president of corporate affairs and joins me now in the studio. Good to see you.
ANDY PHAROAH: Good evening.
SIEGEL: Your reaction to the president's announcement today and the company's reaction?
PHAROAH: Our reaction is that this climate change is a real threat to the world. The science is clear. Human activity is causing a problem. And the Paris Agreement is a good agreement. We're sticking by it. Many other businesses are sticking by it, and governments throughout the world are sticking by it. It's an important issue that we need to take action on.
SIEGEL: What will that mean for Mars to stick by it despite the U.S. withdrawing from it?
PHAROAH: We take a pragmatic and a principled view on this. If we look at our food business, our pet care business, our chocolate business - if we look through our supply chain, we see that climate change causes a real threat to that and a real threat to the communities in which we work and in the small farmers who we rely on to bring the products you love.
We also take a very principled view on it, which is when we look at the harm it will do to those communities. And we know that human activity is causing a problem, and we know it's solvable, that we can do things about it. Then it's the right thing to do, and it's important that companies do what is right.
SIEGEL: President Trump describes the Paris Agreement as something that costs the U.S. jobs, costs U.S. consumers money. Is that true for Mars? That is, does adhering to the agreement make your products more expensive and make it harder to expand or employ more people?
PHAROAH: No. In fact, you know, we're a growing company within the U.S. We've added many, many thousands of jobs. We've cut our emissions - greenhouse gas emissions - by 25 percent since 2010. And in the U.S. now, we are only using renewable energy. So anything you buy from us will be, in the U.S., made with renewable energy.
SIEGEL: And are you doing that as a point of principle, or is renewable energy - does it check out now economically for Mars?
PHAROAH: Yeah, it makes economic sense for us now. And also, you've got to think that in the future, carbon is going to have an economic price to it. And if you can build a company based on low carbon, you put yourself into a strong position. That's why you see all the old companies speaking out on this. That's why you see investment firms investing in the low-carbon future.
SIEGEL: And you're thinking not just about the U.S. economy but operating in a global economy.
PHAROAH: Absolutely. And we operate throughout the world.
SIEGEL: You know, we used to look at the list of corporations that have come out in support of the Paris agreement. And we saw them as the biggest critics of government regulations and very often resistant to changes like environmental regulations. What's happened? I mean Mars was 1 of 25 companies to sign a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal today urging President Trump to rethink the Paris Agreement. How did it turn out that big business became at least divided, if not pro-Paris Agreement?
PHAROAH: I think business actually has supported sensible regulation for a long time. And it believes - I think we believe that there's certain things companies can individually do. There are things that consumers can do, and there are things that governments can do. And we all need to work together on that, you know? A world of no regulation works for no one.
SIEGEL: Well, let's say that for the next few years, the federal government isn't in any way prodding us business or businesses that are based here to be greener. Does the market do it? Would Mars be encouraged just by market forces to continue to become more environmentally conscious?
PHAROAH: We've already made our decision on it. We know we need - this is action that we need to take. We're committed to taking it. I think the market will send signals. Consumers send signals. Customers send signals. So I think perhaps the most important thing about today is it isn't actually going to change what many businesses do, what many consumers do and what many governments do around the world.
SIEGEL: Should one read in that that perhaps the agreement itself has been oversold, that it doesn't do that much? Even if you pull out of it, it doesn't...
PHAROAH: I think directionally, it's important. Paris was a good agreement. It's heading in the right direction, and you know, we are fully supportive of it.
SIEGEL: Andy Pharoah, vice president of corporate affairs and strategic initiatives at Mars, Incorporated, thanks.
PHAROAH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.