Mayors from across the country say a lack of leadership in Washington on climate change is prompting them to take action themselves.
"Sheltering future generations from the ravages of climate change should be something of an obsession for us", Obama said at the event in Chicago's Streeterville district.
"Thanks, Obama", he said, as the audience burst into laughter and applause.
Between July and September, the U.S. GDP, a gauge of economic output, grew at three percent-continuing similar growth reported in the previous quarter. "It was going to be up to all of us", Obama said.
The former president cited a string of recent hurricanes that slammed Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, noting that "more than two months later they are still struggling to recover". He said it was an "unusual time" with the U.S.as the only country to walk away from the Paris agreement, but it was a chance for local leaders to come together and fulfil promises the country has made. "And that's a hard position to defend".
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"But the good news is that the Paris agreement was never going to solve the climate crisis on its own", Obama stated. He said the most important work addressing climate change isn't being done at the level of national leaders but on the ground.
The Chicago agreement includes a committment to reducing carbon emissions, reporting and tracking city emissions, and developing city-specific climate programs and policies, among other pledges.
It was billed as a first-of-its-kind worldwide pledge that supports the principles of the Paris Climate Accord that U.S. President Donald Trump rejected in June. "And what that tells us is that climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it".
Emanuel said the current resident of the White House - not mentioning Trump by name - and his environmental officials are in denial on climate change despite facts.
Mayors gathered for the Summit will be invited to make commitments to move forward with significant emissions reductions regardless of action taken by their respective federal governments.
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