“Paris showed the world that progress is possible. Created a framework. Important work was done there and important work has been done here. That is the good news. Now for the bad news: We are nowhere near where we need to be yet.”
Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday gave a scalding review of the global climate change response.
Speaking at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Obama lambasted those he says play politics to avoid reaching climate targets.
“There is one thing that should transcend our day-to-day politics and normal geopolitics, and that is climate change.”
He called out Russia and China for not doing enough:
“I have to confess, it was particularly discouraging to see the leaders of two of the world's largest emitters, China and Russia, decline to even attend the proceedings. Their national plans so far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency and willingness to maintain the status quo on the part of those governments.”
Obama then zeroed in on U.S. Republicans at home – blasting them for blocking climate ambitions, including Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda:
"...Both of us have been constrained in large part by the fact that one of our two major parties has decided not only to sit on the sidelines, but express active hostility toward climate science and make climate change a partisan issue.” (flash) "It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat if your Florida house is flooded by rising seas.”
Obama said he is convinced that Biden will get Congress to pass a bill to spend $555 billion on climate change.
It's urgent, Obama said... highlighting little progress made since the 2015 Paris Agreement was reached to try to curb warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The former president told youth activists to keep fighting:
"Vote like your life depends on it, because it does. I recognize that a lot of young people may be cynical about politics. But the cold, hard fact is we will not have more ambitious climate plans coming out of governments unless governments feel some pressure from voters."
It's the youth, Obama said, who have the most at stake.