By Maya Rhodan
August 31, 2016

President Obama said global conservation efforts are more important than ever during a speech at the 2016 Lake Tahoe Summit on Wednesday.

In July, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the past 14 months have been the hottest on record. During Wednesday’s remarks Obama said humans are to blame for the change our climate has experienced. “The overwhelming body of scientific evidence shows us that climate change is caused by human activity,” he said.

Yet, the president said, his record on environmental issues reflects his belief that it isn’t too late to reverse the negative trends the globe has faced as a result of policies and practices that harm the environment. He laid out a laundry list of accomplishments on environmental issues, including reduction in carbon pollution in 2016, his administration’s investments in clean energy, and the recent creation of the largest marine preserve on the planet via the expansion Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

The president took jabs at Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail who have expressed doubt about climate change, mocking the actions of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma who infamously threw a snowball on the Senate floor in 2015 to disprove climate change. The president also dismissed arguments that acting on climate change could have a detrimental impact on the economy.

“There is no contradiction between being smart on the environment and having a strong economy,” Obama said Wednesday.

The Lake Tahoe Summit is an annual event, now in its 20th year. This year’s summit was hosted by retiring Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California were also in attendance. The summit brings together lawmakers on all levels that are committed to protecting North America’s largest alpine lake, according to the summit website. The Obama administration announced a number of Lake Tahoe-centric conservation efforts ahead of his remarks, including private-public investments and a recommitment to the Salton Sea. During his remarks, Obama noted that both he and Reid will soon be parting ways with their offices in Washington, though he said both would remain committed to the cause. The president also joked that he was drawn to Lake Tahoe as a fan of the film The Godfather 2.

Obama’s remarks came at the start of an expansive trip that will take Obama to his birth state of Hawaii to Midway Atoll where he’ll note the progress and work ahead on environmental issues.

 

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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