U.S. President Barack Obama says he will make climate change his personal mission after leaving the White House. He made the comments during a speech in his home state of Hawaii on Friday.
The President starred in a comedy skit earlier this year, depicting himself as bored and listless after leaving office, but now appears to be getting serious. He ratified the Paris climate agreement alongside Chinese president Xi Jinping on Saturday and announced he was going to use his "megaphone" as an ex-president to push for climate policy after his term ends.
"My hope is maybe as ex-president, I can have a little more influence on some of my Republican friends who, I think up until now have been resistant to the science...there's no reason why this should be a partisan issue," he told reporters in an interview with The New York Times. "Maybe I get a little more of a hearing if I'm not occupying a political office."
Obama has been outspoken about climate since taking office in 2008. In addition to extending tax credits for wind, solar and other clean energy sources, he used his executive powers to reject TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline project last November, despite intense lobbying from Canada's federal government and attacks from a massive oil industry, including billionaires Charles and David Koch. He introduced an ambitious Clean Power Plan in 2015, saying his was the "last generation that could do something about [climate change]," though the plan was later blocked by the Supreme Court.
On Saturday, China and the U.S. formally ratified the Paris climate agreement. Obama said it was essential for the world's two largest economies to show a strong commitment to climate and set an example for the rest of the world. Although the U.S. continues to be one of the top carbon polluters in the world (it was recently surpassed by China), America's carbon emissions have decreased significantly under Obama's watch, to 12 per cent under 2005 levels in 2015.