‘We’re still falling short’ Obama in stinging slapdown of world leaders in COP26 speech

COP26: Barack Obama says ‘we’re still falling short’

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The former US president said world leaders are “nowhere near” where they need to be on climate change. Barack Obama told delegates: “We are nowhere near where we 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.”

He added: “What is also true is that collectively and individually we are still falling short.

“We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis. We are going to have to do more and whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you.

“Not just those of you in this room but people who are watching and reading a transcript of what I say here today.”

The democrat went on to take a swipe at the Russian and Chinese governments in a speech at COP26 in Glasgow.

He said: “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, and their national plans reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency and willingness to maintain the status quo on the part of those governments.

“That’s a shame.

“We need advanced economies like the US and Europe leading on this issue, but you know the facts – we need China and India leading on this issue.

“We need Russia leading on this issue, just as we need Indonesia and South Africa and Brazil leading on this issue – we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines.”

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Earlier, COP26 president Alok Sharma said countries must deliver on commitments made in the past week.

Ministers are arriving for the political stage of the negotiations after leaders and countries signed up to a range of initiatives last week from tackling deforestation to curbing coal power and cutting methane to prevent dangerous global warming.

Mr Sharma said finding consensus among almost 200 countries – needed for agreement under the UN climate system – was not going to be straightforward but progress last week demonstrated a “constructive spirit” among negotiators.

The announcements countries made last week are not necessarily included in their national plans for action this decade, which leaves the world far off track on meeting the internationally-agreed goal of trying to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.


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Negotiators are trying to hammer out a “cover decision” from Glasgow that will set out how countries will close the gap between the action plans to cut emissions in this decade and what is needed to avoid temperature rises of more than 1.5C.

Vulnerable countries are pushing for nations to revisit their plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), annually to close the gap, but others are pushing back against speeding up the process from its five-yearly cycle.

Mr Sharma said: “Here in Glasgow we have a unique opportunity to reach a historic outcome and I am committed to bringing countries together to forge an agreement that means we see more action this decade, which helps to keep the 1.5C temperature limit within reach.”

He said there was a need for urgency in the negotiations and warned: “Last week countries made commitments which will all help to protect our planet but they must be delivered on and accounted for.”

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