President Obama predicted Friday that Republicans eventually will come around and embrace his climate-change agenda, despite GOP opposition to global-warming action being as strong as it has ever been.
Mr. Obama was questioned at his year-end press conference about the fact his successor could abandon U.S. commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. The U.S. made that formal pledge at a recent climate-change conference in Paris as part of a broader international agreement, but the deal is not legally binding in any way.
The next U.S. president could simply walk away from the agreement and could scrap Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the first set of nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants and a key piece of meeting the 26-percent target.
But the president was confident that Republicans ultimately will decide that fighting his climate agenda is not wise.
“Do I actually think that two years, three years from now, even Republican members of Congress are going to say that’s a smart thing to do? I don’t think they will,” the president said. “Keep in mind that right now the American Republican party is the only major party I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. It’s an outlier.”
Republicans have hammered the Paris agreement in recent days and stress that, under a GOP administration, all of Mr. Obama’s work on climate change will go out the window. They also say boasting about the Paris deal is foolish.
“The agreement is nothing,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters on a conference call earlier this week.