Obama Blasts Trump's Withdrawal From Paris Accords As 'Absence Of American Leadership'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 1, 2017 8:20PM

obamauofcolson.jpg
DJ Obama in public-address mode at a University of Chicago speech/panel discussion / Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

Former President Barack Obama was among those with harsh words for the current White House after President Donald Trump formally announced that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Obama said in a statement that Trump will "reject the future" by withdrawing from the accord—which, when signed in 2015, established a series of benchmarks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. Obama also said he remained hopeful that businesses and governments below the federal level would take up the baton "even in the absence of American leadership."

"The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created," Obama said in the statement. "I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack."

"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," he said.

Nearly 200 nations are signed on to the climate agreement. Trump announced the withdrawal despite protestations from environmentalists, European leaders, scientists and even hundreds of prominent businesses and massive energy interests, such as Shell and Exxon. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump advised against leaving, according to the New York Times.

Illinois lawmakers also came out with full-throated rebukes of Trump's decision. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said that "America is losing its influence and our economy is being left behind" as a result of the pull-out.

She said in a statement:

“Climate change is one of the gravest environmental, economic and national security threats of our time, and we’re already experiencing its devastating effects in Illinois and across the country. Our military leaders have long understood that increased famine and drought caused by climate change is contributing to political instability across the globe - but it seems that our President does not. Instead of leading the way towards a more sustainable future, he is prepared to retreat from our global responsibilities and deliver yet another a self-inflicted blow to America’s credibility on the world stage by having our country join Syria and Nicaragua as the only three countries not party to this agreement."

Duckworth's Illinois colleague, Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democratic Senator, evoked Trump's own language to blast the withdrawal. "This is not America First," Durbin said in a statement. "This is America last when it comes to the stewardship of this planet." More than 20 Republican lawmakers who received millions in donations from energy interests urged Trump to ditch the accord, according to the Guardian.

More locally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel also shared his disapproval of the move in a statement which also reaffirmed Chicago's commitment to reducing carbon emissions:




Obama's full statement is printed below:

"A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.

It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible. It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well. And what made that leadership and ambition possible was America’s private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar - 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.

Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

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. 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."