Obama: Don’t ‘tear up’ Paris Agreement; build on it

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

President Obama in another dig at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump declared Saturday that the Paris Agreement on climate change is key to American leadership and “not something to tear up.”

In his weekly White House video address to the nation, Obama declared climate change “one of the most urgent challenges of our time.” He noted that 2015 surpassed 2014 as the hottest year on record, with 2016 poised to shatter yet a new heat record.

He previewed new efforts to tackle climate change, like fuel efficiency rules for medium- and heavy-duty trucks (see related story). He also touted U.S. efforts under his administration to curb greenhouse gas emissions, from clean energy investments to the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan.

“We’ve multiplied wind power threefold. We’ve multiplied solar power more than thirtyfold. In parts of America, these clean power sources are finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. And carbon pollution from our energy sector is at its lowest level in 25 years, even as we’re continuing to grow our economy,” he said.

“But we’re not done yet,” Obama said, referencing the new fuel efficiency standards, as well as plans to meet targets that the United States set with Canada and Mexico to derive half of North America’s power from non-emitting sources by 2025. He pointed to the Paris Agreement, struck by nearly 200 nations in the French capital in December, as evidence of U.S. leadership.

Calling it “the most ambitious agreement in history to save the one planet we’ve got,” Obama argued, “That’s not something to tear up — it’s something to build upon.”

Trump in an energy speech earlier this year declared that, if elected, he would “cancel” the Paris accord and roll back Obama’s executive actions on climate change.

“We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop — unbelievable — and stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” Trump said to a crowd in Bismarck, N.D.

“President Obama entered the United States into the Paris climate accords unilaterally and without the permission of Congress,” Trump added to applause. “This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much our energy and how much we use right here in America. So foreign bureaucrats are going to be controlling what we’re using and what we’re doing on our land in our country. No way. No way” (ClimateWire, May 27).