By Maya Rhodan
June 1, 2017

Former President Obama responded to President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, a signature achievement of Obama’s two terms in office.

In a statement issued Thursday, Obama said he is confident states and cities will continue pursuing a low-carbon future “even in the absence of American leadership.”

“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,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”

Nearly 200 countries signed onto the Paris Climate Accord in 2015, agreeing to adopt environmentally friendly practices in order to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius. President Trump has said pulling out of the deal will kickstart “America first” environmental policies. In his statement, Obama suggested he believes the private sector will now take the lead.

“The private sector already chose a low-carbon future,” Obama said. “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.”

Read the full statement below:

 

Write to Maya Rhodan at maya.rhodan@time.com.

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