Former U.S. President Barack Obama has pointed to the importance of the Paris climate accord while criticizing Donald Trump for pulling the world’s biggest economy out of the pact.
Trump said last month he would withdraw from the pact and seek to negotiate a better deal, in a move that attracted widespread criticism from counterparts in Europe and elsewhere. The decision by Trump to walk away from the 2015 agreement was also criticized by business leaders, with some describing it as a setback for the environment.
"In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change,” Obama said Saturday in a speech at the opening of the Fourth Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora in Jakarta. He said it was "an agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance.”
"The challenges of our times, whether it’s economic inequality, changing climate, terrorism, mass migration; these are really challenges and we’re going to have to confront them together,” he said.
Obama, who has been holidaying in Indonesia and on Friday met with President Joko Widodo, also warned in remarks Saturday against rising sectarian politics around the world, as well as growing discrimination based on race and ethnicity.
"There are going to be some big decisions to make about Indonesia and about the United States and about the world in the years to come,” he said. "It’s been clear for a while that the world is at a crossroads, at an inflection point.”
He said in Jakarta there had been "enormous progress” which had occurred "in part because of the stability that the United States helped support here in the Asia Pacific.”
But the former president said there are also challenges, and that globalization and technology had created problems and "shifts in the foundations of societies” and in politics both in developing and developed countries.
"The world is more prosperous than ever before, but this has also brought significant changes that are dangerous.”
"We start seeing a rise in sectarian politics, we start seeing a rise in an aggressive kind of nationalism, we start seeing both in developed and developing countries an increased resentment about minority groups and the bad treatment of people who don’t look like us or practice the same faith as us.”
"We start seeing discrimination against people based on race or ethnicity or religion.” Those threats must be confronted, Obama said.
Obama, who spent four years in Indonesia as a child, met on Friday with Widodo, known as Jokowi, at Bogor on the outskirts of the capital. "I always found Jokowi to be a man of quiet but firm integrity and somebody who sincerely wants what’s right by all Indonesians,” he said.
Their meeting touched on issues such as infrastructure and economic development, according to Obama, who said Saturday that the U.S. and Indonesia shared the common values of "pluralism and tolerance and openness and rule of law.”