GLASGOW, Scotland – Barack Obama said he was confident in UN climate talks on Monday that the Biden administration will finally get its $ 555 billion climate package through Congress, and blamed his American rivals China and Russia from what he called a “dangerous lack of urgency” to cut off theirs. emissions that destroy the climate.
“When it comes to the climate, time is really running out,” Obama told climate advocates. Although there has been progress since the historic Paris climate agreement of 2015, “we are far from where we need to be”.
His comments came as conference leaders acknowledged on Monday that many key sticking points existed after a week of talks. A trust gap between rich and poor nations on climate change issues emerged as negotiations reviewed what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. Developing countries used versions of the word “disappointing” five times when leaders spoke on Monday of progress to date.
The United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland is the former US president’s first since he helped bring the 2015 Paris climate accord triumph, when countries pledged to reduce fossil and agricultural fuel emissions fast enough to keep global warming below catastrophic levels of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
This celebration faded and was replaced by worry. Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris agreement. President Joe Biden returned to America as soon as he took office this year, but US efforts to tackle climate change have been delayed for years by Trump’s decision.
“The 1.5 C is now on life support, he’s in intensive care,” said Alden Meyer, a longtime observer of climate talks with E3G, an environmental think tank.
Obama’s appearance on the sidelines of the talks was meant to remind governments of the excitement surrounding the Paris Agreement and to urge them to announce more immediate and concrete steps to implement the 2015 agreement.
âThe United States is back and is moving more boldly. The United States is not alone,â Obama said.
Obama noted that the efforts of the United States – the second-largest climate polluter in the world now after China – stalled when Trump withdrew from the climate deal.
âI wasn’t really happy with that,â he admitted, but added that it takes optimism to save the planet.
“There are times when I feel disheartened. There are times when the future looks somewhat bleak. There are times when I doubt that humanity can pull itself together before it’s too late.” Obama said. “We cannot afford desperation.”
Despite opposition within Biden’s own Democratic Party that blocked climate legislation, Obama said he was confident a version of Biden’s ambitious climate bill would be passed. to Congress in the coming weeks.
“This will put the United States on the right track to meet its new climate goals,” he said.
And while in 2015, relations between negotiators in the Obama administration and their Chinese counterparts were seen as paving the way for the global Paris agreement, Obama criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. for not joining other world leaders in the Glasgow climate talks.
“It was particularly disheartening to see the leaders of two of the world’s largest transmitters, China and Russia, refuse to even attend the debates, and their national plans reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency,” he said. Obama said.
Obama spoke earlier Monday at a session on Pacific island nations, including those whose existence is threatened by rising oceans due to climate change.
“We all have a role to play. We all have work to do. We all have sacrifices to make” on the climate, he said. “But those of us who live in rich countries, those of us who helped precipitate the problemâ¦ we have an additional burden.”
When briefing the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) on the progress of the first week, COP26 President Alok Sharma had to correct the number of issues resolved, changing “a lot” to ” some”.
No agreement has yet been reached on the three main objectives of the United Nations conference. These are promises to halve emissions by 2030 to keep the Paris climate accord’s 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit target alive; the need for $ 100 billion a year in financial aid from rich countries to poor countries; and the idea that half of that money goes towards adaptation to the worst effects of global warming. Several other issues, including carbon trading and transparency, have yet to be resolved.
Many developing countries were pessimistic. They called progress “disappointing” and not close enough, saying announcements on tackling climate change were plentiful but feared they were weak.
Representatives of 77 developing countries, as well as China, said that until this climate conference resolves the problem of financial commitments to help poor countries cope with climate change, these talks could not be successful.
Ahmadou Sebory TourÃ© of Guinea, speaking on behalf of poor nations, said rich countries that fail to fulfill their $ 100 billion pledge show these countries are only making “an empty pledge.”
“There is a history of broken promises and broken commitments by developed countries,” Diego Pacheco Balanza of Bolivia told the conference.
Scientists say the urgency of global warming is as great as the catastrophic speeches from Glasgow conveyed it, with the planet only years away from the point where it becomes impossible to meet the targets set in the agreement of Paris, due to increasing damage from coal, oil, agriculture and other sources of pollution.
The past few days have seen huge protests in Glasgow and across Europe for faster action in the fight against global warming.
Obama told young people “you are right to be frustrated,” but then relayed the advice his mother gave him when he was young.
âDon’t sulk. Get busy, get to work and change what needs to be changed,â he said. âVote like your life depends on it – because it does. “
Associated Press reporter Aniruddha Ghosal contributed to this report.
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