"Number one, climate change is real," he said speaking at a national governors association reception at the White House on Monday.
"Point number two is, in order to grow the economy, we got to have energy," he said. "And every president, whoever takes my place, they're going to want to grow the economy. And, by the way, that's true internationally."
"In fact, there are countries like India where it's even more desperate. They don't have electricity. They've got to produce electricity in order to develop," Obama said. "And if we aren't giving them options, if the only message we have for them is, stay poor, we're not going to solve the problem."
"So this is not an either/or issue. We got to grow the economy, which means we've got to produce energy. And we've got to deal with climate change," Obama said.
Noting that technology and research and development are accelerating rapidly, the president said thanks to the Paris climate change agreement there would be more investment from the private sector that would accelerate progress even more.
Obama said research and development were necessary "because we are going to continue to use fossil fuels for our lifetime. Those aren't going to immediately go away. And certainly, they will be used in other countries."
"If we can figure out how to make those cleaner, that helps all of us," Obama said.
"I want India and China to know how to use clean coal because they're going to be building coal plants anyway," he said. "And if we've got technology that can help make sure that it's not emitting huge amount of carbon, all the better."