Takeaways From a Gathering of Mayors on Climate Change

Former US President Barack Obama | AP

Former President Barack Obama has lamented the lack of U.S. leadership in the fight against climate change and without mentioning his successor Donald Trump, who has been dismantling his administration's environmental policies, he said that the country is in a position that is "difficult to defend".

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Lord Mayor Isaya Mwita Charles signs the Chicago Climate Charter at the North American Climate Summit at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago.

Ever so classy, Obama did not mention Trump by name, instead 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 fulfill promises the country has made.

The Chicago charter calls for mayors to achieve a per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that's equal to or more than what is outlined in the Paris agreement.

The former president's Chicago appearance also gave a boost to his former chief of staff as Emanuel ramps up to run for a third term as mayor.

The former president said that climate change should be an "obsession" for Americans and having a plan to address it, he said, should be a "prerequisite" for anyone running for office. The U.S. can't technically back out until 2020 because of legal technicalities. His decision marked a major setback to worldwide efforts to combat climate change and placed the U.S.in opposition to the stance of some of the country's closest foreign allies.

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Leaders attending the North American Climate Summit in Chicago this week signed a charter aligning with the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the accords earlier this year.

The main speaker and guest of honor was former President Barack Obama. "We are stuck with that, at least for a couple more years", Jackie Biskupski (D), mayor of Salt Lake City, said at the conference. Obama and Democrats have spun the long-running sarcastic joke to upended criticism from conservatives who blamed the president for problems that had little to do with his policies.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is one of three dozen mayors expected to sign a pact tomorrow vowing their cities will do their parts to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he's honored Obama will join the summit, which kicked off Monday evening and wraps up Tuesday.

"In this environment right now, it's easy sometimes to feel discouraged, and feel as if people are talking past each other", said Obama, who did not mention President Trump by name in his 14-minute address to the summit.

The agreement requires the cities to track and publicly report city emissions, advocate for greater local authority and flexibility to take aggressive action on climate, and incorporate the realities of climate change and its impacts into local infrastructure and energy planning. He says mayors will sign a charter and discuss solutions including expanding access to public transportation.

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