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US leaving Paris Agreement would leave me 'extremely disappointed,' says Enel CEO

Geoff Cutmore
Pier Marco Tacca | Getty Images News | Getty Images. The CEO of European utility firm Enel would be "extremely disappointed" if the U.S. pulls out of the landmark Paris Agreement.

The CEO of European utility firm Enel would be "extremely disappointed" if, as expected, President Donald Trump pulls the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement.

Speaking to CNBC at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017, Francesco Starace said he thought "it would be bad that the U.S. leaves the Paris Agreement, it would be a blow to the Paris Agreement itself from a symbolic standpoint."

Trump is set to announce his decision at 3:00 p.m. ET today. Under the Paris Agreement, reached at the end of 2015, world leaders have committed to making sure global warming stays "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While many are worried about the impact of the U.S. leaving the accord, Starace sought to strike an optimistic note. "We have to remember that the energy policy of the U.S. is really driven by the energy policies of the states of the USA, which have different policies: you have very little in common with Wyoming and California, for example."

Most of the states seem to be sticking with their policies, Starace added, and there was no particular worry that, in the medium term, there would be a change in programs or investment policies.

California, for its part, has ambitious plans for renewables. It has set itself the target of generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and wants to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks by as much as 50 percent in the next 15 years.

Starace went on to address the issue of whether Enel and other businesses in the renewable space would think twice about putting more money into U.S. projects if the U.S. did indeed leave the Paris Agreement.

"Look, the way projects are financed in the U.S., no, I don't think there is going to be any problem midterm," he said. "I think for the next three years, the investment flow is basically earmarked and secured."

"Of course, if this attitude gets worse or is complicated by different moves further down, we have to see," he went on to add. "At the moment we don't have any alarm at all."

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