The world dropped their collective jaws in disbelief on Thursday when Donald Trump announced that he has officially decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump justified his move to abandon the deal by saying that he cares about “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Because destroying the entire planet by ignoring the science of climate change will help Pittsburgh, which he presumably must think is on Mars. But I digress.
In the wake of this disturbing news, former President Obama stepped forward with a powerful message of hope. He touted the growth and prosperity that had already come from the Paris deal and lamented that other nations would now be reaping the benefits that Trump just turned his back on. But more importantly, he explained why all hope is not lost.
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.
Forever looking towards the future and seeing hope, with an unshakeable faith in the ability of Americans to do what is right, Obama has just reminded us exactly why we love him so much. This man is a real leader. Oh, how we miss him now.
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