On Thursday, Barack Obama slammed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Since the former president vacated the White House in January, he has remained almost entirely mum on all things politics and has avoided criticizing or even commenting on Trump’s actions and decisions as POTUS. That all changed following an expected announcement by Donald Trump on June 1 from the White House Rose Garden.
“I was elected by the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
As CNN reports, Barack Obama played an integral role in the drafting of the Paris climate agreement, and when it was inked in 2015, 195 nations signed on to the global effort to curb man-made global warming. Syria and Nicaragua are the only nations that didn’t sign the Paris Agreement. While the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement wont be complete until November 2020 (the same time that the current POTUS will theoretically be seeking reelection), Barack Obama, as well as leaders and famous names the world over, have already begun their harsh criticism of the decision.
In a statement released Thursday, former President Barack Obama bashed the controversial Trump call, a decision that even daughter Ivanka Trump reportedly tried to talk her father out of making. According to Obama, the decision will not put “America First,” one of Trump’s primary campaign promises. Rather, Barack Obama says that Thursday’s decision will hurt America in a variety of significant ways.
As Politico reports, Obama didn’t mince words when it came to his feelings about America’s new place in the world. According to the former POTUS, the United States is no longer leading the pack when it comes to reaping the benefits of the Paris climate agreement. Obama also lamented the “absence of American leadership” and accused the current administration of rejecting the future in his scathing statement.
“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.”
While Barack Obama didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, his statement made it abundantly clear just who he was talking about when criticizing the American decision to withdraw from the “the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children,” an agreement made possible by Barack Obama and his “steady, principled American leadership on the world stage.”
“It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well.”
In his statement, Obama called on “states, cities and businesses” to do more to do their part in curbing unnecessary emissions and holding to the low-carbon standards set forth by the Paris agreement, even if the current administration refuses to enforce the rules across the board. The Thursday Barack Obama statement was the first since the former president spoke in Berlin, warning that “we can’t hide behind a wall” as Trump traveled the Middle East.
At least one state is already living up to Barack Obama’s confidence. As CurbedNew York reports, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responded to the Trump decision by vowing to adhere to the Paris climate agreement guidelines. What’s more, 61 U.S. mayors also promised that they would be adopting the agreement shared by nearly 200 countries within their own jurisdictions.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was endorsed by Barack Obama in the past, issued a statement of his own regarding climate change and the “very real threat” it poses — a threat that, like Obama, de Blasio says the world cannot ignore.
“President Trump can turn his back on the world, but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change. This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet. New Yorkers are already experiencing hotter summers, more powerful storms and rising seas, which disproportionately affect already vulnerable communities.”
John Kerry, secretary of state under Barack Obama when 195 nations joined together in an unprecedented manner for the Paris climate agreement, also blasted the Trump decision to withdraw. However, unlike Obama, Kerry directed his criticism toward the current POTUS, calling his Thursday actions “the most self-defeating action in American history.”
“The President who promised ‘America First’ has taken a self-destructive step that puts our nation last. This is an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership which will cost us influence, cost us jobs, and invite other countries to walk away from solving humanity’s most existential crisis.”
Like Barack Obama, Kerry slammed the lack of current, viable American leadership.
When he spoke today about his decision to leave the climate agreement forged in part by Barack Obama, Trump insinuated it was unfair treatment — that when Obama and nearly 200 other world leaders agreed to the carbon-limiting measures, the U.S. somehow didn’t get an appropriate deal.
“We want fair treatment. We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore.”
In the aftermath of the Thursday announcement, many current and former world leaders, as well as politically minded private citizens, seemed to align themselves with Barack Obama and his biting statement.
What do you think about Barack Obama’s Thursday statement? Is it appropriate for a former president to so openly criticize his successor’s political decisions? Let us know in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Gero Breloer/AP Images]