The perspective comes as the Trump administration is engaged in a fierce internal debate about how to proceed with the Paris climate deal and whether to explore leaving the accord altogether.
George Shultz -- who served as secretary of state, secretary of labor, treasury secretary and director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Nixon and Reagan presidencies -- lays out the argument in an op-ed published Tuesday in The New York Times
with Ted Halstead, president of the Climate Leadership Council.
Shultz and Halstead note the "newly invigorated pro-Paris campaign by many of America's top CEOs," citing a series of "public letters and full-page ads."
"This is as close as big business gets to a consensus position," they write, arguing that "our companies are best served by a stable and predictable international framework that commits all nations to climate-change mitigation." Shultz and Halstead say that a US withdrawal from the Paris deal would cloud the international business climate.
Just as important, Shultz and Halstead argue, withdrawing from the Paris deal "carries major implications for America's place in the geoeconomic order."
"American companies are well positioned to benefit from growing global markets in clean technologies, generating domestic jobs and growth," they write. "By contrast, pulling out of the agreement could subject the United States to retaliatory trade measures, enabling other countries to leapfrog American industry."
"Global statecraft relies on trust, reputation and credibility, which can be all too easily squandered," Shultz and Halstead write. "The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside."
The Trump administration has been debating the Paris climate agreement
through a series of stop-and-start meetings. In a string of heated West Wing gatherings, aides have aired deep differences over the climate agreement, which President Barack Obama's administration brokered and which every nation except Syria and Nicaragua has signed onto.
A Tuesday strategy session was postponed due to a scheduling conflict, the White House said. A decision about whether to withdraw from the agreement could come as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the talks.