Obama: Cities, states new climate change leaders

Barack Obama in Paris

The comments from Obama came at a gathering in Chicago of mayors and municipal officials from the USA and around globe to discuss climate change in light of Trump's declaration earlier this year that he will withdraw the US from the landmark Paris Agreement.

The more than 50 mayors and global climate leaders converged on the city this week for the North American Climate Summit, part of a commitment to addressing climate change on the local level.

"As we took these actions, we saw the USA economy grow consistently", Mr. Obama said.

The Chicago charter calls for mayors to achieve a per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that's equal to or more than what is outlined in the Paris agreement.

"There is an absence of leadership out of Washington", said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as President Obama's chief of staff.

Mr. Trump announced in June that he would withdraw from the Paris accord. His decision marked a major setback to worldwide efforts to combat climate change and placed the U.S.in opposition to the stance of some of the country's closest foreign allies.

The preamble to the Chicago Climate Charter the participating mayors signed on Tuesday read: "President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement spurred over 380 cities in the US, numerous cities in other parts of North America, and countless organizations worldwide to commit themselves to the Agreement".

Obama, who enacted the Paris deal, is expected to speak Tuesday afternoon. In the past few years he's introduced programs to increase the number of highly energy-efficient buildings, update city street lights with LEDs, and power public buildings with 100 percent renewable energy.

The meeting was attended by 51 Mayors from the US, Canada, Mexico and France, Efe news reported.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said city residents will be the victims if action isn't taken.

"Ultimately the work is done on the ground", Obama said.

The charter will succeed within American cities and states, the only thing it will have difficulty duplicating from the Paris Agreement is the aid of billions of dollars to other countries. The president criticized the climate accord, which sets the goal of holding global warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as an example of a deal " to the exclusive benefit of other countries".

The former President said jokingly that he was "in the neighbourhood" and chose to drop by and he was applauded vigorously several times during his relatively brief remarks, in which he spoke about some of his administration's achievements in protecting the environment.

"Climate change can be solved by human action", he said.

Technically, the US can't give notice of its departure from the non-binding agreement until November 2019 under terms agreed upon when the pact was negotiated in 2015. When a reporter asked Canadian mayors what message they had for Trump, Emanuel interjected: "Can I take that question too?" "Western cities across North American are dealing with longer and harsher wild fire seasons".

Obama said that as people get older, you become more aware of your mortality and want to make sure that "your kids and their kids are going to be OK".


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