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Obama reacts to U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

Trump exits climate accord

Former President Obama, without mentioning his successor's name, criticized President Trump for deciding to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which his administration helped negotiate, and which he signed. 

"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," the former president said in a statement.   

In his announcement Thursday afternoon that the U.S. would formally withdraw from the Paris pact, Mr. Trump claimed that the landmark climate agreement is "very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States" and expressed concern that the international deal would hinder U.S. economic growth and energy markets, like the coal industry.

What would be the impact of U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate agreement?

The president's decision makes U.S. one of three countries that have not signed on -- the other two are Syria and Nicaragua. Nicaragua refrained from signing because the punishments outlined in the climate agreement for non-complying nations were not harsh enough.

Mr. Trump, who had promised during his campaign to withdraw from the accord, saw the climate accord as a job-killer. Obama, however, saw the transition to renewable energy sources as a job creator. But in his statement, he suggested that the world's climate future might not be in the government's control anyway.

"Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future," Obama wrote.  "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." 

He also said that it was U.S. leadership on the world stage -- his administration's -- that made the Paris agreement possible. And what made that leadership possible, he added, "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."  

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