Obama: GOP president won’t stop climate pledges

Obama: GOP president won’t stop climate pledges
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President Obama expressed confidence Tuesday that the United States will meet the climate pledges he presented at an international conference in Paris, despite threats from Republicans.

Obama said it’s in the best interest of the next president to keep his promise to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, even though the pledge is not binding under domestic or international law.

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The future president, Obama said, will realize “that American leadership involves not just playing to American constituency back home, but you now are in fact at the center of what happens around the world.”

Obama also offered the prediction that he will be succeeded by a Democrat — something that would vastly increase the chances that his climate agenda will take hold.

“I’m confident in the wisdom of the American people on that front,” Obama said.

Obama said the next president will realize what it means to have the vast majority of world leaders endorse cutting greenhouse gases.

“The president of the United States is going to need to think this is really important,” he said. “And that’s why it’s important for us to not project what’s being said on a campaign trail but to do what's right and make the case.”

GOP presidential hopefuls have overwhelmingly rejected Obama’s climate agenda, joining nearly all Republicans in Congress in their wish to overturn his controversial regulations on power plant emissions and other big rules.

The power plant rule is the main pillar of Obama’s pledge to the United Nations. That pledge and others from nearly every country are expected to be rolled into an international agreement, though the emissions reductions are unlikely to be binding.

Overturning big rules would prevent the United States from meeting its pledge.

Obama also sought to reassure world leaders that the United States will be able to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund as he has promised. That fund is meant to help poor countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, but Republicans in Congress have threatened to block the funding.

“This is part of American leadership,” Obama said. “For some reason, too often in Washington, American leadership is defined by whether or not we’re sending troops somewhere. And that’s the sole definition of leadership.”

Republicans in both the Senate and House want to reject Obama’s $3 billion request, and some even want to prevent him from moving other foreign aid around to fulfill the pledge.

Earlier Tuesday, Obama met with the leaders of various small island nations, who stand to suffer the most from rising sea levels.

“Their populations are amongst the most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change,” Obama told reporters after the meeting. “Some of their nations could disappear entirely, and as weather patterns change, we might deal with tens of millions of climate refugees in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Obama left for the United States on Air Force One shortly after the news conference.