Obama laments lack of US climate leadership in Paris

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Former U.S. president Barack Obama speaks at a conference during his first visit to France since he left the White House, Paris, France December 2, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Former
US president Barack Obama speaks at a conference in
Paris

Thomson
Reuters


  • Former President Barack Obama told a Paris audience
    there is a “temporary absence of American leadership” on the
    issue of climate change.
  • It appeared to be a veiled rebuke at President Donald
    Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate
    accord earlier this year.
  • Obama said the US remains on track to meet its climate
    targets regardless, due to the actions of some states and
    cities.

PARIS (Reuters) — Former President
Barack Obama lamented the lack of US
leadership in the fight against climate change during a visit to
Paris on Saturday, in a veiled rebuke of his Republican
successor’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Speaking at an invitation-only event organized by a network of
communications professionals known as the
Napoleons, Obama did not mention President
Donald Trump, who announced his withdrawal from the landmark
global deal in June.

“I grant you that at the moment we have a temporary absence of
American leadership on the
issue,” Obama said, to laughter in the
audience packed with French CEOs and former ministers.

But the US remains on track to meet its targets, he said, thanks
to the action of some states, cities and because it made
“business sense.”

Earlier in the day, Obama had lunch with
President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace — although the
French presidency told Reuters that was in a “private capacity”
and did not publicize the event with the usual tweet or official
photo.

Macron, who received Obama‘s public support
during his campaign for the presidency, slammed Trump’s decision
to ditch the climate accord last June, but has since tried to
maintain cordial relations with the billionaire.

The 39-year-old leader made Trump the guest of honor of Bastille
Day celebrations in Paris in July and has said he still hoped to
change the American president’s mind on the issue.

Obama also met former French president Francois
Hollande, who hosted the UN’s climate conference two years ago,
and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

In comments likely to raise eyebrows in
Brussels, Obama said that although
Europeans should not take for granted what the European project
has accomplished since the end of World War Two, decision-making
in the EU could be improved.

“I think for example that the European Union needs to recognize
that micro-managing every single aspect of life within Europe
gets people frustrated,” he said.

“So there are ways of streamlining and improving the functioning
of the European Union, but the European project itself, the Union
itself is something that is worth preserving,” he added.

 

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Gwenaelle Barzic and
Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Stephen
Powell)

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