On Earth Day, the United States joined about 170 other countries in signing the Paris Agreement, a historic deal to reduce carbon emissions across the globe. President Obama sent the following message to the White House email list to reflect on the America's leadership in the fight against climate change. Didn't get the email? Sign up for email updates here.
Today is Earth Day -- the last one I'll celebrate as President. Looking back over the past seven years, I'm hopeful that the work we've done will allow my daughters and all of our children to inherit a cleaner, healthier, and safer planet. But I know there is still work to do.
When Secretary of State John Kerry stands with other countries to support this agreement, we’ll advance a plan that prioritizes the health of our planet and our people. And we’ll come within striking distance of enacting the Paris Agreement years earlier than anyone expected.
This is important because the impact of climate change is real. Last summer, I visited Alaska and stood at the foot of a disappearing glacier. I saw how the rising sea is eating away at shorelines and swallowing small towns. I saw how changes in temperature mean permafrost is thawing and the tundra is burning. So we’ve got to do something about it before it’s too late.
As the world's second-largest source of climate pollution, America has a responsibility to act. The stakes are enormous -- our planet, our children, our future. That's true not just here in America, but all over the world. No one is immune.
That's why, when I ran for this office, I promised I'd work with anyone — across the aisle or on the other side of the planet — to combat this threat. It's why I brought together scientists, entrepreneurs, businesses, and religious organizations to set the first-ever national fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, made the biggest investment in clean energy in U.S. history, and put forward a plan to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. And it's why we rallied more than 190 nations in Paris to establish a long-term framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions -- the first time so many countries had committed to ambitious, nationally determined climate targets.
Now, we're building on that momentum. When all is said and done, today will be the largest one-day signing event in the history of the UN.
That's what this is all about. And that's why today, America is leading the fight against climate change.
President Barack Obama