President Obama defines Trump: 'The absence of American leadership'


President Barack Obama did not look kindly on Donald Trump's decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement or the stark "absence of American leadership" demonstrated by this dangerous decision.

Former President Barack Obama slammed Donald Trump and his decision to drop out of the historic Paris climate agreement, announced Thursday in a bizarre White House Rose Garden ceremony that included a performance by the U.S. Marine Band, possibly to drown out protesters.

In a statement, Obama pointed out that it was "steady, principled American leadership on the world stage" that worked to "set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children."

In contrast to Trump's announcement, which cast the climate agreement as anti-business, Obama indicated that "the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for business, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale."

Obama pointedly concluded:

I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. 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.

In his speech, Trump justified his decision saying, he "was elected by voters of Pittsburgh, not Paris." But the elected representatives of that city quickly rebuked him. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted, "Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement."

Others, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, have previously said they will push their cities to stick to the accord.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying further highlighted Trump's abdication of American leadership on the global stage in comments circulated by The People's Daily, noting, "China will continue to work with the EU to strengthen communication and cooperation on climate change, and push forward the multilateral governance process in this regard."

During his speech, Trump insisted that he "cares deeply about the environment," but his track record shows this to be a lie.

Trump has a history of environmental ignorance. He claimed that climate change is a "hoax," invented by the Chinese government. And on the campaign trail, he complained that environmental policy had affected the quality of his hairspray, yelling that "no way" could the product impact the environment.

Thanks to Trump, the United States is now one of only three countries in the world that refuses to participate in the Paris climate agreement. In abandoning the agreement, Trump stuck to Republican orthodoxy, dismissing climate change and siding with polluters.

But as has been the case with so many other flawed and dangerous decisions during his presidency, Trump is already facing resistance from those determined to ensure the future of our country and our planet.