Obama in UK to save COP talks after Biden skewered for ‘humiliating’ performance

Joe Biden shouts at reporter as he's grilled on illegal migrants

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It comes after the US President refused to sign up for a groundbreaking pledge for a global deal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. The UK is poised to announce the commitment to end the sale of new polluting cars by 2035 for richer countries and 2040 for developing countries on Wednesday. The Government is said to be in last-minute talks with the Biden administration team which is resisting the commitment because of concerns of domestic political backlash as President Joe Biden struggles to get his climate agenda through Congress.

Now, Mr Obama, along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi are travelling to Glasgow in the hope of turning things around.

China is also expected to reject the agreement amid dwindling relationships with the West.

The EU’s own deadlines on phasing out petrol and diesel cars are also proving problematic as they are locked in negotiations among member states over its decarbonisation package.

The difficulties are threatening to undermine Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s aim at the conference to “keep alive” the ambitions of the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5C.

Mr Johnson is now being accused by some of overpromising.

Mr Biden has only this year pledged for half of all car sales to be electric by 2030, and reversed moves by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to ease pollution standards.

But he is struggling to get funding through Congress.

His infrastructure deal, which includes billions for clean energy, only passed late on Friday night and a second bill – that includes most of the climate change funds – is still stuck.

Mr Biden has faced calls to go further but risks political backlash in a country where electric cars are widely seen as too expensive and impractical.

Only about two percent of cars sold a year in the US are pure electric, compared to around seven percent in the UK and 10 percent in Europe.

Now, many Democrats, and Conservatives, are said to be hoping Mr Obama can help get things back on track.

Mr Obama’s spokeswoman Hannah Hankins pledged that the former president will specifically “lay out the important progress made in the five years since the Paris agreement took effect, highlight the leadership of young people around the globe, and urge more robust action going forward by all of us – governments, the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society”.

Mr Obama’s presence at the COP26 began with suggestions from climate activists.

But it really took shape in conversation with John Kerry, his former secretary of state and Mr Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, people familiar with the conversations told CNN.

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The White House was eager for the help, officials said, requesting anonymity to discuss the behind-the-scenes conversations.

Mr Obama championed addressing environmental issues while in office.

Meanwhile, many online have been critical of Mr Biden, not least after claims surfaced that he was “asleep” during the conference.

Others on Twitter have dubbed the performance “humiliating,” “terrible,” and even “a collapse of leadership”.

A COP26 spokesperson said: “As COP26 President, the UK continues to push the G20 and other countries to make the big policy decisions required to keep the 1.5C target alive, like ending coal power, accelerating the roll-out of electric vehicles and tackling deforestation plans.

“We’re looking forward to a productive second week to make further progress for a positive outcome for the planet.”

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