A man wearing a President Obama mask takes part in a silent march calling for ambitious action to tackle climate change in Bogota, Colombia on Sunday.

A man wearing a President Obama mask takes part in a silent march calling for ambitious action to tackle climate change in Bogota, Colombia on Sunday.

Obama prods world on climate change, faces pushback at home

PARIS — Facing pushback at home, President Barack Obama said Sunday that American leadership was helping make gains in the global fight against climate change as he tried to reassure world leaders assembling for a historic conference in Paris that the U.S. can deliver on its own commitments.

Obama was joining more than 150 leaders for the opening days of a two-week conference where countries are trying to negotiate an agreement aimed at avoiding a calamitous increase in global temperatures. In a Facebook post as he flew to Paris, the president said he was “optimistic about what we can achieve because I’ve already seen America take incredible strides these past seven years.”

At the summit’s opening Monday, Obama and French President Francois Hollande were to join tech giant Bill Gates to announce new public and private efforts to dramatically increase spending around the globe on developing clean energy technologies that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. and at least 19 other governments will pledge to double their clean energy research and development spending in the next five years, even as Gates and wealthy businessmen from 10 countries pledge billions more in private spending to encourage green energy innovation, the White House said.

For the U.S., that means doubling government spending on clean energy research to $10 billion over the next five years.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in a conference call with reporters, acknowledged that winning approval for those dollars would require “a complex discussion” with the Republican-controlled Congress. But he predicted that spending for research and innovation was more likely to attract bipartisan support from lawmakers than has financing for a U.N. fund to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Senate Republicans have been working to block Obama’s request for the first installment of his $3 billion pledge for the U.N. fund.

Obama, with just a year left in office, wants to lead the world by example on climate change. But he faces opposition at home that makes it harder for him to credibly make the case on the world stage that the U.S. will honor its promises.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an opinion piece timed to coincide with Obama’s trip to Paris, accused the president of being so concerned with his legacy that he “prioritizes symbolism over substance.”

The Kentucky Republican wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday that Obama’s international negotiating partners in Paris “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.”

McConnell said Obama’s energy plan is one that “Congress has voted to reject and that his successor could do away with in a few months’ time.”

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Assembly members after his resignation was announced during a May 13 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Three city attorney finalists to be interviewed in public sessions this week by Juneau Assembly

Two Juneau residents with CBJ experience and D.C.-based Army attorney seek to replace Robert Palmer.

Angela Rodell, former CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., speaks to the House Finance Committee on Thursday, June 24, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Angela Rodell, former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. CEO, says she’s running for mayor

First-time candidate to challenge incumbent Beth Weldon; filing deadline for local election is today.

Republican U.S. House candidate Nick Begich, with sign-holding supporters, waves to Midtown Anchorage motorists on Election Day in 2022. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Some Alaska Republican candidates pledge to withdraw if they aren’t atop GOP votes in primary

Pledges are a way to circumvent ranked choice voting, according to one supporter.

People protesting the death of Steven Kissack gather at Marine Park after marching through downtown Juneau on Sunday afternoon. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Protesters demand police accountability following death of Steven Kissack

Advocates gather where he was shot, say they are raising their voices because “he’s unable to speak.”

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read