Obama Responds To The News That Trump Is Pulling Out Of Paris Climate Agreement

"I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way."

Former President Barack Obama, who was considered the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, responded to news that President Donald Trump would be withdrawing from the deal.

Obama wrote in a statement released on Thursday that he was still confident the states and cities in the United States would keep fighting climate change, and encouraged Americans to remember the benefits of the agreement.

"The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack," Obama said in a statement. "But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got."

The historic Paris Climate Agreement united 195 countries via a pact aimed at preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Two of the most notable countries not bound to the deal are Syria — which has been engulfed in civil war — and Nicaragua — which didn't think the deal went far enough in terms of preserving the environment. Trump, who said the United States has long been a leader in clean energy, described it as a "bad deal" for American workers and said the deal hamstrung the manufacturing and coal industries. But Obama and other environmentalists aren't so convinced. 

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Nat Keohane, a former advisor to Obama and Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund, told A Plus on Tuesday that the Paris Agreement was a symbol of true American leadership.

"If you step back from the partisanship, the Paris Agreement was a terrific example of what America can do when it leads the world, and what American leadership looks like in terms of real international diplomacy that brings countries together and achieves American interests," Keohane said. 

In his statement, Obama also pointed out the many economic benefits of the Paris Climate Agreement, namely that it helped accelerate the innovation that was already happening in solar and wind power here in the U.S. The two sectors represent some of the fastest growing job markets at home, and some fear backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement will hand China, India and other European countries an inside lane on investment and innovation in the industries.

"What made that leadership and ambition possible was America's private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar," Obama said. "Industries that created some of the fastest new streams of good-paying jobs in recent years, and contributed to the longest streak of job creation in our history."

Cover images via Shutterstock / Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Evan El-Amin.

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