CHICAGO – Former President Barack Obama praised American mayors, business leaders and academics on Tuesday for being the "new face of American leadership on climate change" now that the President Trump has abandoned an international climate agreement that Obama helped to forge during his presidency.

Obama's comments came to a meeting in Chicago of mayors and city officials from the US. UU and the world to discuss climate change in light of Trump's statement earlier this year that he will withdraw EE. UU From the historic Paris Agreement.

As part of the North American Climate Summit, mayors signed a pledge called the "Chicago Climate Charter": a binding agreement in which cities agree to continue working towards the goal of reduce greenhouse gas emissions as established by the Paris agreement.

"In this environment at this time, it is easy to feel discouraged and feel that people have passed on to each other," said Obama, who did not mention President Trump by name in his 14-minute speech to the summit. "This is where the particular talents of the mayors come in. Because first of all, you are used to dealing with people who can sometimes be irrational, you are used to having to deal with the realities that you face and take action, not only talk about that. "

Trump announced in June that he was withdrawing the US. UU of the climate agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, which was negotiated during Obama's tenure in the White House, nations can not officially notify their departure from the non-binding agreement until November 2019. Syria announced last month that it would join the agreement, leaving the United States United as the only country outside the agreement once it can formally withdraw – a fact that Obama called "difficult to defend".

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Lord Mayor Isaya Mwita Charles signs the Chicago Climate Charter at the North American Climate Summit at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago. (Photo: TANNEN MAURY, EPA-EFE)

Trump criticized the Paris Agreement, which sets the goal of keeping global warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as an example of an agreement "that harms the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries "

A part of the Paris Agreement that large cities can not duplicate: contributing billions of dollars that the United States (during the Obama administration) and other governments pledged to help to developing countries to make the transition forms of energy.

The former president raised the case with the friendly crowd that halting carbon emissions and promoting economic growth are not mutually exclusive.

Obama noted that his administration pushed for new regulations that limit the amount of carbon pollution existing power plants could be released into the air, promote wind and solar power and set new fuel economy standards for vehicles.

"We find resistance every step of the way," Obama said. "There were skeptics who said that these actions killed jobs and depressed growth, but instead, after taking these steps, we saw that the US economy grew consistently, we saw the longest streak of job creation in the history of the United States. United States, it's a streak that continues, by the way "

Obama joked about his economic record," Thank you, Obama. "

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who signed the mayor's pact, said Trump's decision to back down on the deal has been detrimental to the reputation of the United States around the world and has the potential of harming the American economy.

"Mayors like me throughout the country have no choice but to step forward and send a message to people in our communities, across the country and throughout the country that we are not going to give up on our role in sustainability or the fight against climate change, "said Stanton. "We understand that clean energy is our economic future and we can not build an economy looking back".

More: Forget Paris: the mayors of the United States. UU They sign their own pact after the Trump ditches climate deal

More: Chicago Climate Charter, explains: What cities say they will do to reduce greenhouse gases

More: USA UU It is now the only country that is not part of the Paris climate agreement after Syria signs

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