Obama Speaks Before Leaving COP21

Former President Barack Obama took unfair shots at President Donald Trump's leadership on climate change at an overseas conference with business leaders in Paris Saturday.

“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, according to Reuters.

Obama did not directly mention Trump by name, but was likely referring to his withdrawal of the Paris climate accord in June.

Obama praised the actions of states and cities that are helping to keep the U.S. on track to meet its targets because it makes “business sense,” according to Reuters.

The Paris climate accord was a voluntary agreement without any enforcement mechanisms. Obama's own statements that the U.S. will remain on target because of state and local governments' actions shows the federal government doesn't need to take action.

Moreover, the agreement was meant to circumvent federal law, acting as a treaty without Senate approval where it stood little chance of passing.

But even if it was fully implemented, and accepting the Environmental Protection Agency's model for the “exaggerated” effects of the reduced emissions on warming, it will only produce a decline in temperature of 0.17 of a degree Celsius over a period of 70 years, according to Benjamin Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute.

The costs of a such a small change are astronomical according to Zycher, casting doubt on Obama's charges of an “absence of leadership.”

“This effort to reduce [global greenhouse gas] emissions would impose costs of at least 1 percent of global GDP, or roughly $600 billion to $750 billion or more per year, inflicted disproportionately upon the world’s poor,” Zycher continued.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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