WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama hailed on Saturday an agreement reached by nearly 200 nations that’s designed to curb global warming, saying that it will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens the planet and more economic growth driven by investments in clean energy.
Top Republicans in Congress dismissed the pact as nothing more than a long-term planning document and said that Obama was making promises he won’t be able to keep in the months and years ahead.
Obama, speaking from the White House, sought to trumpet what could be a legacy-defining achievement, if the Republican-controlled Congress or the courts don’t block him or his successors reverse him.
He said the world leaders meeting in Paris “met the moment” and that people can be more confident the planet will be in better shape for the next generation.
“I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world,” Obama said. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”
He said the climate agreement “offers the best chance to save the one planet we have.”
Obama said the agreement is not perfect, but sets a framework that will contain periodic reviews and assessments to ensure that countries meet their commitments to curb carbon emissions.
As technology advances, targets can be updated over time. The agreement also calls for supporting the most vulnerable nations 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 investments,” Obama said.
The climate talks have generated opposition from Republicans who control Congress.
They say Obama’s commitment to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants would cost thousands of American jobs and raise electricity costs.
Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said that Americans can expect the administration to cite the agreement as an excuse for establishing emission targets for every sector of the U.S. economy.
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama is “making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an `agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months.”
Several Democratic lawmakers applauded Obama’s efforts. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, said climate change poses one of the the greatest threats the world has ever known, and that no country acting alone can stem the tide.
“The time to act is now,” Nevada’s Reid said.