Speaking to COP26 delegates, Obama said that “We can’t afford anybody on the sidelines” and that it was “particularly discouraging” that China and Russia are not attending the conference. He added that climate change should “transcend normal geopolitics.”
Obama criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin for not joining other global leaders at the climate talks in Glasgow, saying he found it “particularly disappointing” that their leaders haven’t shown up to Cop26.
“One thing should transcend day-to-day politics and geopolitics and that’s climate change,” Obama says. “The world has to step up and it has to step up now.”
"We can't afford anybody on the sidelines."
Former US president Barack Obama tells the COP26 summit it is "particularly discouraging" China and Russia are not attending the conference and says climate change should "transcend normal geopolitics". pic.twitter.com/fjHhLSbjAE
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) November 8, 2021
Obama admits it will be hard to deliver 1.5 degrees
The U.N. climate conference in Glasgow is Obama’s first since he helped deliver the 2015 Paris climate accord when nations committed to cutting fossil fuel and agricultural emissions fast enough to keep the Earth’s warming below catastrophic levels of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
“It is going to be hard,” Obama stated, regarding keeping temperatures to below 1.5C. “International cooperation has always been difficult, it is made more difficult by misinformation and propaganda that comes out of social media these days.
“Getting people to work together on a global scale takes time, and that’s time we don’t have … If we work hard enough for long enough, those partial victories add up.”
Obama said that “meaningful progress” has been made since the Paris climate accords, which he helped to strike, but acknowledged that more needs to be done.
“Collectively and individually we are still falling short on climate crisis”
“What is also true, collectively and individually we are still falling short,” the former President said. “We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis, we will need to do more.”
Obama admitted that “some progress stalled” when Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris deal. “I wasn’t real happy about that,” he added, but said the “US is back” under Joe Biden’s leadership.
Last week in Glasgow President Biden apologized for former President Trump’s past actions, saying “I guess I shouldn’t apologize — but I do apologize for the fact that the United States and the last administration pulled out of the Paris accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit.”
Biden made the remarks in a breakout group with fellow officials at the conference.
Former President Obama also issued a dire warning to young people during his speech, urging them to “vote like your life depends on it because it does.”
He encourages young people to speak to their families about climate change because they will listen, saying it’s important to convert people who do not agree, or are indifferent to the issue.
“We have to do a little more listening – we can’t just yell at them or say they’re ignorant, or tweet at them,” he said.