Importance of Natural Resources

The President Delivers a Statement on the Paris Climate Agreement

The President: Good evening. In my
first inaugural address, I committed this country
to the tireless task of combating climate change and
protecting this planet for future generations. Two weeks ago, in Paris, I
said before the world that we needed a strong global
agreement to accomplish this goal — an enduring
agreement that reduces global carbon pollution and
sets the world on a course to a low-carbon future. A few hours ago,
we succeeded. We came together around the
strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment. I want to commend President
Hollande and Secretary General Ban for their
leadership and for hosting such a successful summit, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for presiding
with patience and resolve. And I want to give a special
thanks to Secretary John Kerry, my Senior
Advisor Brian Deese, our chief negotiator
Todd Stern, and everyone on their teams
for their outstanding work and for making
America proud. I also want to thank the
people of nearly 200 nations — large and small,
developed and developing — for working together to
confront a threat to the people of all nations. Together, we’ve shown what’s
possible when the world stands as one. Today, the American people
can be proud — because this historic agreement is
a tribute to American leadership. Over the past seven years,
we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change. In 2009, we helped salvage
a chaotic Copenhagen Summit and established the
principle that all countries had a role to play in
combating climate change. We then led by example,
with historic investments in growing industries
like wind and solar, creating a new and steady
stream of middle-class jobs. We’ve set the first-ever
nationwide standards to limit the amount of carbon
pollution power plants can dump into the air
our children breathe. From Alaska to the Gulf
Coast to the Great Plains, we’ve partnered with local
leaders who are working to help their communities
protect themselves from some of the most immediate
impacts of a changing climate. Now, skeptics said these
actions would kill jobs. Instead, we’ve seen
the longest streak of private-sector job
creation in our history. We’ve driven our economic
output to all-time highs while driving our carbon
pollution down to its lowest level in nearly two decades. And then, with our historic
joint announcement with China last year, we showed
it was possible to bridge the old divides between
developed and developing nations that had stymied
global progress for so long. That accomplishment
encouraged dozens and dozens of other nations to set
their own ambitious climate targets. And that was the foundation
for success in Paris. Because no nation, not even
one as powerful as ours, can solve this
challenge alone. And no country, no
matter how small, can sit on the sidelines. All of us had to
solve it together. Now, no agreement is
perfect, including this one. Negotiations that involve
nearly 200 nations are always challenging. Even if all the initial
targets set in Paris are met, we’ll only be part of
the way there when it comes to reducing carbon
from the atmosphere. So we cannot be complacent
because of today’s agreement. The problem is not solved
because of this accord. But make no mistake, the
Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the
world needs to solve the climate crisis. It creates the mechanism,
the architecture, for us to continually tackle
this problem in an effective way. This agreement is ambitious,
with every nation setting and committing to their
own specific targets, even as we take into account
differences among nations. We’ll have a strong
system of transparency, including periodic reviews
and independent assessments, to help hold every country
accountable for meeting its commitments. As technology advances, this
agreement allows progress to pave the way for even more
ambitious targets over time. And we have secured a
broader commitment to support the most vulnerable
countries as they pursue cleaner economic growth. In short, this agreement
will mean less of the carbon pollution that
threatens our planet, and more of the jobs and
economic growth driven by low-carbon investment. Full implementation of this
agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst
consequences of climate change, and will pave the
way for even more progress, in successive stages,
over the coming years. Moreover, this agreement
sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly
committed to a low-carbon future. And that has the potential
to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy
at a scale we have never seen before. The targets we’ve
set are bold. And by empowering
businesses, scientists, engineers, workers, and the
private sector — investors — to work together, this
agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to
save the one planet that we’ve got. So I believe this moment can
be a turning point for the world. We’ve shown that the world
has both the will and the ability to take
on this challenge. It won’t be easy. Progress won’t
always come quick. We cannot be complacent. While our generation will
see some of the benefits of building a clean energy
economy — jobs created and money saved — we may
not live to see the full realization of
our achievement. But that’s okay. What matters is that today
we can be more confident that this planet is going to
be in better shape for the next generation. And that’s what
I care about. I imagine taking
my grandkids, if I’m lucky enough to have
some, to the park someday, and holding their hands,
and hearing their laughter, and watching a quiet sunset,
all the while knowing that our work today prevented an
alternate future that could have been grim; that
our work, here and now, gave future generations
cleaner air, and cleaner water, and a
more sustainable planet. And what could be more
important than that? Today, thanks to
strong, principled, American leadership, that’s
the world that we’ll leave to our children — a world
that is safer and more secure, more prosperous,
and more free. And that is our most
important mission in our short time here
on this Earth. Thanks.

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