Former President Barack Obama harshly criticized Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord on Thursday, characterizing the move as "the absence of leadership." In a statement issued shortly after Trump announced his intent to pull out of the historic Paris deal, Obama accused the Trump administration of rejecting the future. But while Obama was critical of Trump's Paris climate deal decision, he said he was confident businesses and local governments would step up to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in place of the federal government.
"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," Obama said in a statement released Thursday.
In 2015, a total of 196 nations committed to the landmark Paris deal, agreeing to cooperatively combat climate change by adopting environmental policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preventing global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The accord has largely been seen as one of the key achievements of Obama's presidency. Trump, however, has characterized the Paris climate accord as unfair and bad for America and American workers.
JUST IN: Statement from President Barack Obama on the Paris Climate Accord: pic.twitter.com/hVDrsPFrTH— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 1, 2017
But while Trump defended his decision to abandon the Paris climate accord as an effort to bring back U.S. jobs, Obama has argued the move will hurt the United States economically. In withdrawing from the Paris deal, Obama claimed the United States would likely miss out on numerous economic benefits.
"Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future," Obama said in his statement. "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."
While the Trump administration has opted to withdraw the United States from the deal, "the nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created," Obama said, adding he felt "the United States should be at the front of the pack."
Under President Trump's order the United States will launch a lengthy process to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. According to reports, withdrawal procedures won't be completely finalized until around the time Trump is up for re-election in November 2020.