Former President Barack Obama has waded into the governance of his successor, attacking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change.
Obama accused Trump of “rejecting the future” and creating an “absence of American leadership” in the world by pulling out of another legacy pact, just as he did with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Paris accord, which was negotiated and signed during the Obama administration, was celebrated as a crowning achievement in the fight against climate change.
Obama signed the agreement without Senate approval in 2016. On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to withdraw from the Paris accords, declaring the agreement to be detrimental to U.S. interests. He fulfilled his promise Thursday, stating clearly, “It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many many other locations within our great country before Paris, France.”
Trump said the deal is more about letting other countries take advantage of the U.S. and lining the pockets of the developing world than it is climate change. Obama, however, praised the agreement as a global effort to “protect the world we leave to our children.”
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama warned in his statement criticizing the president’s decision.
“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” the former president added, explaining that it was U.S. leadership that made the agreement possible.
“It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible,” Obama said, “It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well.”
The U.S. is one of only a few countries that decided not to uphold the pact. Trump has said that he is not opposed to protecting the environment, but he is opposed to deals that could harm U.S. national interests. He stated Thursday that it is “time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country.”
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