On Friday, President Barack Obama held his year-end news conference, where he tackled the issues of the year and made a couple of witty quips about Star Wars (because the president's got his finger on the pulse, people). But his best comments came after a journalist asked him if he was worried that a Republican president could undo American goals set forward in the Paris climate deal. The reporter also wondered if Obama would publicly support 2016 Democratic candidate because of the danger that Republicans could pose to his climate change progress, but he didn't reveal much except that he's extremely confident that his progress won't be undone.
At the climate conference in Paris, the United States joined a coalition of countries that pushed to move beyond the minimum goal of keeping the country from warming no more than two degrees Celcius. Obama said the climate conference decided to limit global change in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius instead. In addition to that commitment, Obama gave four additional reasons why he isn't afraid that his work on climate change will be undone.
1He Doesn't Think A Republican Candidate Will Win The Election
Nor, for the record, would he publicly support one, according to a live feed of the press conference:
I think it's fair that I was going to be campaigning for a Democratic nominee even without that danger. I think we will have a strong Democratic nominee. I think that Democratic nominee will win. I think I will have a Democratic successor. And I will campaign very hard to make that happen for a variety of reasons, because they’re far more likely to share my fundamental vision about where America should go.
2The World Is Headed Towards A Climate-Friendly Future
Regardless whether a Democrat wins the election, Obama doesn't seem worried about the future of climate change in the United States, because the world is encouraging a pro-earth model, he said:
What I think people should also feel good about is that the agreement struck in Paris — although not legally-binding when it comes to the targets that have been set — does create this architecture in which all around the world, countries are saying, 'This is where we’re going. We’re going to be chasing after this clean energy future. This is how we’re going to meet our goals. We’re going to double down on solar power, we’re going to double down on wind power. We’re going to invest more heavily in biofuels. We’re going to figure out battery technologies.'
3There's A Monetary Incentive For Clean Energy
Obama said that solar and wind tax credits have led to a threefold increase in wind power and a twentyfold increase in solar power. With the right tools, clean energy will replace the surpass the jobs lost by cutting back on oil and gas:
That then creates a different dynamic that is independent of what Congress does, but also helps to shape what Congress does. Because the more people that are now getting jobs in solar installation and production, the more that you have companies who are seeing how American innovation can sell products in clean energy all across the Asia Pacific, and in Europe, and in Africa. Suddenly, there’s a big monetary incentive to getting this right, and that’s been the history of environmental progress in this country.
Obama then pointed out how every time the nation has made a decision to move to reduce climate change, people have worried that the economy would fall apart — from clean air regulations to efficiency standards for cars — only to realize that innovation has made everything a lot easier and more successful than expected.
4He Doesn't Think Republicans Would Actually Want To Stop Paris Resolutions
Though Obama's expecting a lot of fanfare in the next year from Republicans on the Paris deal, he doesn't think they would actually want to reverse the goals set forward — though he did include a jab or two:
Keep in mind that right now, the American Republican party is the only major party that I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. I mean, it’s an outlier. Many of the key signatories to this deal, the architects of this deal, come from center-right governments. Even the far-right parties in many of these governments — now, they may not like immigrants, for example, but they admit, 'Yeah, the science tells us we’ve got to do something about climate change.'
Boom! In a world where climate change is a looming, scary thing — we are already living through one of the warmest winters in history — it's encouraging to see Obama stand so strongly for change in the right direction.