COP26: Barack Obama addresses lack of climate change action
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The former US president, who arrived at the Glasgow summit on Monday, admonished world leaders for failing to meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. As a signatory to the historic treaty, the US pledged to slash greenhouse emissions and work with international partners to curb the runaway global warming effect. The treaty aims to keep the global temperature below 2C above pre-industrial levels, while further attempting to keep the mercury below 1.5C.
Unfortunately, estimates show the planet is warming at an alarming rate, casting a shadow of doubt over the Paris Agreement’s target.
Mr Obama has now claimed the world “collectively and individually” has fallen short of its commitment to tackling the climate crisis.
He said: “We have not done enough to address this crisis. We are going to have to do more.”
The US formally pulled out of the Paris Agreement last year, following ex-president Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the treaty four years ago.
The move was widely criticised by the scientific community and experts warned the decision would tarnish the US’s international reputation.
Andrew Light of the World Resources Institute, for example, warned in 2017 that the move will “damage US integrity at the negotiating table”.
President Joe Biden, who spoke at the COP26 summit last week, explicitly apologised for the US’s withdrawal and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to fighting the crisis.
The US officially rejoined the Paris Agreement in February this year – a decision President Biden made on his very first day in office.
He said: “We’ll demonstrate to the world that the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading the power of our example.”
His administration has vowed to slash the US’s greenhouse gasses by 2050 by investing in renewable energy.
COP26: Barack Obama says ‘we’re still falling short’
Towards this goal, the nation aims to reduce its pollution levels by 50 to 52 percent on 2005 levels by 2030.
The UK has adopted a similar target to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, and considerably reduce greenhouse gasses by 2030.
However, speaking today, Mr Obama has warned that not enough is being done to face the climate crisis head-on.
He said: “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 need to be yet.
“For starters, despite the progress that Paris represented, most countries have failed to meet the action plans that they set six years ago.
“And the consequences of not moving fast enough are becoming more apparent all the time.
The former president then cited a recent study that found 85 percent of the global population has already experienced worsening weather events due to climate change.
He warned of stronger storms, longer heatwaves, more intense flooding and crippling droughts all over the globe.
According to The State of the Climate report for 2021, the world is already “changing before our eyes” and extreme events have become “the new norm”.
Mr Obama continued: “Parts of the world are becoming more dangerous to live in, triggering new migration patterns and worsening conflict around the globe.
“It’s one of the reasons why the US Pentagon and other US agencies have said that climate change poses a national security threat for the US and for everyone else.
“But not only did we not hit all of the targets that were pledged in Paris, but remember Paris was always supposed to be a beginning, not an endpoint.”
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