Home

Obama: U.S. Helped Cause Climate Change 'Problem'

Obama and Hollande met in Washington before the climate conference got started in France Monday. (Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama told other world leaders Monday that the United States played a major role in causing the climate change “problem,” and warned the groups it will be the “last” with a chance to address it. Obama and French President Francois Hollande spent months putting together the high-profile conference that began Monday on the outskirts of Paris. The main goals are to set industrialized and developing countries on a path to lower carbon emissions, while also establishing systems to both monitor countries’ progress and urge them to do more down the road.  

McConnell Slams Obama’s Climate Plan as Paris Conference Begins 

At the conference’s start, Obama told his fellow leaders — as he has on other global matters — that the United States is to blame for recent global climate changes, and is ready to help find solutions. Statements like that riled Republicans even before Obama took office, and the latter portion is sure to meet their resistance.  

“I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Obama said.  

He used a summer visit to America’s 49th state to describe what other parts of the globe could encounter if warming temperatures and other changes are not soon reversed or slowed. “I saw the effects of climate change firsthand in our northernmost state, Alaska,” he said, “where the sea is already swallowing villages and eroding shorelines; where permafrost thaws and the tundra burns.”  

Obama warned that snapshot of a warming Last Frontier State amounts to “a preview of one possible future” for areas across the globe, with entire countries below water, cities transformed into ghost towns and “political disruptions that trigger new conflicts.”  

“That future is not one of strong economies, nor is it one where fragile states can find their footing. That future is one that we have the power to change,” he said. “But only if we rise to this moment. As one of America’s governors has said, 'We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.'”  

The energy plan Obama’s administration submitted for the Paris climate conference continues to be ripped by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill.  

“The president’s international negotiating partners at that conference should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration, because commitments the president makes there would rest on a house of cards of his own making,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in last week in an op-ed .  

McConnell added there is ample “bipartisan opposition” to the White House plan, saying it “wouldn’t make much sense to ask Congress to allocate resources for global commitments predicated on a plan the president went around Congress to impose.”  

McConnell Slams Obama’s Climate Plan as Paris Conference Begins 

Related: See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.