President Obama defended spending his energies on a climate-change summit at a time of high concern over terrorism Tuesday, saying global warming is an imminent danger to the world.
“This one trend, climate change, affects all trends,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference in Paris. “This is an economic and security imperative that we have to tackle now. Great nations can handle a lot at once.”
He said the Islamic State, which carried out the deadly attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, is “going to continue to be a serious threat for some time to come.”
“I’m confident we’re going to be on the winning side of this,” Mr. Obama said.
The president, wrapping up two days of talks with world leaders aimed at reducing carbon emissions, said the summit has “accomplished a lot.”
“I am convinced that we’re going to get big things done here,” he said.
Mr. Obama said other nations shouldn’t worry that the U.S. will abandon his commitment to reducing emissions after he leaves office, predicting that a Democrat — presumably meaning Hillary Rodham Clinton — will win the presidency in 2016.
“I’m anticipating a Democrat succeeding me,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m confident of the wisdom of the American people on that front.”
But even if a Republican succeeds him, Mr. Obama said, a GOP president will need to cooperate with “what other countries care about.”
“There’s a reason why you have the largest gathering of world leaders probably in human history here in Paris,” Mr. Obama said. “Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously. They think it’s a really big problem.”
Mr. Obama reiterated his position that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave office as part of talks among the U.S., Russia and other parties to reach a political solution in the country’s civil war.
“It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “Too much blood has been shed.”
Mr. Obama met earlier Tuesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expressed support for Turkey in the wake of it shooting down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last week.
“Turkey is a NATO ally,” Mr. Obama said. “Along with our allies, the United States supports Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace and its territory. And we’re very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty.”
The two leaders discussed “how Turkey and Russia can work together to de-escalate tensions and find a diplomatic path to resolve this issue.”
The Pentagon confirmed that Russia is moving S-400 surface-to-air missile systems into its primary airfield near Latakia in Syria. With a range of nearly 250 miles, the missile system could put at risk most U.S. combat aircraft flying over Syria as part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State.