(Glasgow) Former US President Barack Obama said on Monday he believed the Biden administration would eventually get Congress to pass its $555 billion climate plan, while denouncing what he called “dangerous reluctance” from Russia and China to cut their polluting emissions. .
He made these comments at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
“In terms of climate, time is running out,” Mr. Obama told the participants. Although progress has been made since the Paris Agreement in 2015, “we are not even close to where we should be”.
Dead ends in several files
Several conference officials acknowledged on Monday that the stalemate continues on several issues. It seems clear that trust is out of date between rich and poor countries when we compare the results of the week with what remains to be done. Developing countries used five versions of the word “disappointing” when leaders gave an update Monday on progress made so far.
This is the first time Mr. Obama has attended the United Nations climate conference since the Paris victory in 2015, when the world’s nations agreed to reduce pollutant emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Since then, optimism has given way to anxiety. Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement. Joe Biden reversed that decision once he took office earlier this year, but America’s efforts to combat climate change are long overdue nonetheless.
Obama’s visit to Glasgow was aimed at reminding governments of enthusiasm for the Paris Agreement and urging them to take immediate and concrete steps to implement the 2015 agreement.
The former president praised the efforts of several countries, including Canada, to tackle the climate crisis.
“I wasn’t very happy,” he said of Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, before adding: “We need optimism to save the planet. Sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes the future looks bleak to me. Sometimes I doubt humanity can agree. Get to work before it’s too late. But we can’t afford to give up.”
Mr. Obama noted that climate change does not care about political loyalties, but rather will flood homes and destroy crops for supporters of all stripes.
Putin and Xi’s empty chair
And if, in 2015, relations between representatives of the Obama administration and their Chinese counterparts made it possible to reach an agreement, on Monday Mr. Obama denounced the absence of Chinese Presidents Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Glasgow.
“I was particularly frustrated that the leaders of two of the world’s biggest polluters, China and Russia, did not even come to participate in the discussions. Their national plans show a serious lack of impulse,” he said.
Mr. Obama addressed a session earlier on Monday in the Pacific islands, some of which are significantly threatened by rising sea levels.
“We all have a role to play. We all have work to do. We will all have to make sacrifices. But it’s us who live in rich countries, it’s us who helped create the problem,” he said. […] We have additional responsibility. ”
There is no agreement on the three goals
No agreement has yet been reached on the conference’s three main goals: halving pollutant emissions by 2030 to maintain the potential to limit warming to 1.5°C; $100 billion in annual aid from rich countries to poor countries; And the idea that half of that will be spent on adapting to the worst effects of the climate crisis.
Several developing countries have expressed pessimism. They described the progress as “disappointing” and insufficient, believing that the quantity of advertisements exceeded their quality.
Representatives of 77 developing countries, in addition to China, said the talks are doomed to fail until the issue of financial aid to help poor countries cope with challenges and climate change is resolved.
Experts say the crisis is as serious as the bleak rhetoric in Glasgow suggests. They said the Paris targets would soon become out of reach, due to the intensification of pollution damage.
Huge protests have been held in Glasgow and elsewhere in Europe in recent days to demand stronger action on global warming.
Mr. Obama realized that young people “have a right to be discouraged,” before sharing a piece of advice his mother gave him when he was young.
“Don’t indulge. Activation said, start to work, change what needs to be changed. Vote as if your life depended on it – because it depends on it. ”
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