Obama: US opting out of Paris agreement 'a hard position to defend'

Violet Powell
December 7, 2017

Obama said despite President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw from the landmark United Nations agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures, the U.S. remained on track to meet its targets.

Leaders attending the North American Climate Summit in Chicago this week signed a charter aligning with the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the accords earlier this year.

"Miami already floods on sunny days", Obama said.

Mohsen Nasseri, the head of National Climate Change Plan in the Department of Environment, evaluated the delay as positive since it provides time to examine the socioeconomic ramifications of the accord.

While China, India and Brazil, along with many other developing countries and wealthy nations such as the USA and European Union member states have recently chosen to ratify the Paris Agreement, Russia is absent from the list of backers. He only said that the current administration's decision was "difficult to defend".

Between July and September, the U.S. GDP, a gauge of economic output, grew at three percent-continuing similar growth reported in the previous quarter.

Speaking in Chicago to mayors at a climate summit, the former president noted the "conveyor belt" of hurricanes this year and western cities dealing with "longer and harsher" wildfire seasons.

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The need for greater cooperation among cities is evident by the environmental challenges they face, Steve Adler (D), mayor of Austin, Texas, said during the charter's signing ceremony.

It has until 2020 to adopt the Paris climate agreement and act in accordance with the objectives of the treaty. The agreement, modeled on the Paris agreement, commits individual cities to bringing down their carbon emissions.

Former US President Barack Obama has spoken of his frustration that America is pulling out of the 2015 climate accord.

Obama spoke to mayors in attendance for about 15 minutes acknowledging the difficulty of addressing climate change now that the US does not belong to the Paris agreement. However, Trump was still made guest of honor at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris in July, with Macron saying he hoped to change the American president's mind on the issue. Trump has said the terms of the agreement should be more favourable to businesses and taxpayers.

Obama's former White House chief of staff - and more than 50 other mayors signed a "climate charter".

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said that the Chicago Charter is more than symbolic and that it will help municipal leaders track and share information on what efforts are having the most impact on reducing carbon emissions.

The earliest the USA can withdraw from the Paris agreement is November 2020.

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