On Wednesday, SpaceX founder and tech mogul Elon Musk suggested that he had done as much as he could to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to remain in the Paris Accords, the multi-national climate change mitigation pact, and said he would withdraw his council to the president if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement.

It seems the 45-year-old entrepreneur sees the withdrawal as a bridge too far, however.

Musk agreed to join Trump’s advisory teams shortly after the election to counsel the administration on a range of issues including manufacturing and infrastructure, and is a member of the president’s strategic and policy forum. Many in the space industry have hoped that his relationship with Trump, coupled with the president’s enthusiasm for space exploration, would lead the government to incentivize more commercial space development and to pave the way for more public-private partnerships within the industry. It is unclear how a rift resulting from Trump’s decision to leave the Paris agreement will affect the burgeoning commercial space sector.

While Musk has long expressed strong concerns with the impacts of human-caused climate change, the president has repeatedly expressed doubts about it, famously referring to it as a “Chinese hoax” during the 2016 campaign. Musk’s alliance with the climate change-denying administration has earned him the ire of some of his supporters, especially after he praised Trump’s anti-regulation agenda, which aims to gut environmental and worker protections in an effort to support business growth. Musk, however, suggested to his detractors that it was better the president have someone like him providing advice, as opposed to the presidents many political advisors who share his doubts on the science. (A majority of climate scientists accept that climate change is human-caused, globally dangerous, and that emissions require dramatic intervention to prevent irreversible change; in fact, Exxon-Mobil’s shareholders passed a measure that demands the company be more transparent about the projected impacts of climate change to on the company.)

In the past, Musk has praised former Exxon CEO and current U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s acknowledgment of climate change and suggestion that a carbon tax be implemented as one measure for combatting the proliferation of greenhouse gases, which scientists widely believe to be causing rapid and dangerous increase in the global temperature.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

David S. Lewis
Lewis has been a writer, journalist, and editor for over a decade; his work has covered politics, policy, tech, and more. He is the co-founder and contributing editor of The Downlink Blog, a trade publication which covers advances in commercial space-based industry.

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