Win McNamee/Getty
June 01, 2017 04:03 PM

Former President Barack Obama is speaking out against President Donald Trump‘s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

In a carefully measured statement released moments after Trump announced the news from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Obama praised the deal he helped negotiate as president two years ago and expressed his confidence in American cities, states and businesses to continue leading the way in the global issue in spite of Trump’s decision.

“I believe the Unites States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said in a statement released by his office. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

After much speculation, President Trump announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, a joint effort among nearly 200 nations to combat global warming.

Condemning the accord as “an agreement that disadvantages the United States” to the benefit of other countries, Trump declared: “The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.”

The agreement was a focus of Trump’s campaign, with the longtime businessman arguing that it was a burden on U.S. consumers and energy producers.

Some from Obama’s administration were far more direct. Matthew Miller, an official in the Obama-era Justice Department wrote on Twitter that listening to Trump on Thursday was like listening to Venezuela’s polarizing and international pariah of a former president, the late Hugo Chavez.

Many other big names turned to Twitter to express concern over abandoning the agreement.

The president himself tweeted on Wednesday, “I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Leaders around the world had been lobbying for America to retain its place in the accord, with Pope Francis putting pressure on Trump during the president’s visit to Vatican City last week.

Even the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, have encouraged him to stick with the agreement, Politico reported. Ivanka arranged a meeting on climate change between former Vice President Al Gore and her father last December.

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