Oliver: Trump pulling out of Paris accord could have ‘catastrophic’ effect

Warning: Video contains explicit language

John Oliver had a message for “Last Week Tonight” viewers Sunday night: Check out your local politicians’ stance on climate change — and work to get those who deny it out.

The HBO show’s host made the plea at the end of a segment on President Trump’s decision last week to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. The president made the announcement on Thursday, claiming the agreement had disadvantaged the US ‘‘to the exclusive benefit of other countries,’’ leaving American businesses and taxpayers to absorb the cost.

However, by abandoning the agreement to slow the tide of planetary warming, Trump struck a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat global warming and distanced the country from its closest allies abroad.


Oliver slammed Trump for the move, noting that even corporations like Walmart, Bank of America, and tobacco company Phillp Morris International have pledged to commit to going eco-friendly in various ways.

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“That is right: This is a story where Walmart, Bank of America, and Phillip Morris end up being the good guys, which just feels inherently surprising,” Oliver said. “It’s like I just said, ‘Great news everyone: Ebola, ISIS, and that dentist who shot Cecil the lion are going to save the planet for us.’ ”

Oliver also pointed out that several governors and mayors (including Pittsburgh, which Trump specifically referenced in his speech Thursday) are still aiming to hold their areas up to the climate agreement. However, he noted that not everyone felt that way, focusing specifically on state legislators who have offered head-scratching explanations for global warming.

“The onus is now on politicians at the state and local level to do what Donald Trump cannot be bothered to. Unfortunately, that means you now need to find out where your mayor, your governor, or even your state reps stand on climate change,” Oliver said. “Maybe you’ll get lucky — maybe yours is great. Or maybe you live in Pennsylvania and you’re represented by Scott Wagner.”

Oliver then cut to a quote from Wagner, a state senator who was quoted on WHYY-FM in March as saying, “We have more people. You know, humans have warm bodies, so is heat coming off?. . . I think we are, as a society, doing the best we can.”


After the clip, Oliver said incredulously, “Our body heat is not warming the planet, and we are clearly not doing the best we can, because we keep putting idiots like Scott Wagner in positions of power.”

Oliver also played a clip of North Carolina state Representative Larry Pittman, in which he said in 2012, “Our climate runs on a cycle. it goes up and it goes down and the lord designed it that way. . . and it is the height of hubris for human beings to think that we can have any effect on that.”

Oliver seemed shell-shocked by Pittman’s statement.

“No Larry, no. The height of hubris is not opposing climate change against God’s will. The height of hubris is 6-2 and he just pulled us out of the Paris agreement,” Oliver said.

At the end of the episode, Oliver had a message for his viewers: Do whatever it takes to help elect local officials who are committed to reducing our nation’s carbon footprint.


“All of this is going to take work, and attention, and energy, and I know that’s not easy,” Oliver said.

However, he pointed to one specific motivating factor.

“Apparently, it was never quite enough to motivate ourselves out of love for this large, gassy orb,” Oliver said, a photo of the earth appearing next to his face. “But maybe we can bring ourselves to do something out of our loathing of this one.”

The next visual queued up?

Donald Trump.