clock menu more-arrow no yes

Obama on Paris agreement decision: the Trump administration “rejects the future”

Obama And Merkel Discuss Democracy At Church Congress Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images

As the Trump administration moved to unravel his legacy in climate policy, former President Barack Obama did what he is best known for: He responded with hope.

But not without making absolutely clear that he thinks President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement is wrong and will hurt the American people. The Obama administration was a major player in the agreement negotiations, and signed the deal alongside 194 countries in 2015.

Obama, who has remained under the radar for the first four months of Trump’s presidency, issued a full-throated endorsement of the Paris agreement Thursday, from its economic merits to its symbol of American leadership on the global stage.

The statement didn’t mention Trump by name once. But Obama didn’t need to. Instead, in the final line he painted the Trump administration as weak and backward-looking — but in the name of looking to the future.

“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.”

Below is Obama’s statement in full:


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.