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Story highlights

Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord Thursday

The final deal was struck by Obama and other world leaders in December 2015

"But even in the absence of American leadership... 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."

(CNN) —  

Former President Barack Obama lamented the decision of his successor, President Donald Trump, to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, saying in a statement that the deal was intended to “protect the world we leave to our children.”

Obama’s office released the statement in the middle of Trump’s Rose Garden announcement that the US would be withdrawing from the landmark climate pact. In it, the former president warned that the US would risk missing out on the economic benefits of being a part of the Paris agreement.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama said. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack.”

He added: “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.”

Trump’s controversial decision deals a blow to one of Obama’s legacy accomplishments. He helped broker the climate change agreement in 2015, and at the time, touted it as the “best chance we have” to save the planet.

Trump’s decision on the Paris deal comes as he and a Republican-controlled Congress are attempting to dismantle other key Obama achievements, including the Affordable Care Act.

01:25 - Source: CNN
President Trump withdraws US from Paris accord

The full statement from Obama is below:

A year and a half ago, the world came together in Paris around the first-ever global agreement to set the world on a low-carbon course and protect the world we leave to our children.

It was steady, principled American leadership on the world stage that made that achievement possible. It was bold American ambition that encouraged dozens of other nations to set their sights higher as well. And what made that leadership and ambition possible was America’s private innovation and public investment in growing industries like wind and solar – industries that created some of the fastest new streams of good-paying jobs in recent years, and contributed to the longest streak of job creation in our history.

Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future. And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale.

The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. 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.