COP26: Barack Obama says ‘all of us have a part to play’ in climate crisis

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COP26: Barack Obama says ‘all of us have a part to play’ in climate crisis
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Barack Obama has said everyone has a part to play in the climate crisis but those living in “big, wealthy nations” have greater responsibility to help those “less able but more vulnerable”.

The former US President addressed delegates at the COP26 UN climate summit as he made a return to the world stage.

He said: “All of us have a part to play, all of us have work to do. All of us have sacrifices to make.

“But those of us who live in big, wealthy nations, those of us who help to precipitate the problem, we have an added burden to make sure we are working with, and helping and assisting those who are less responsible and less able but more vulnerable to this oncoming crisis.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Obama made the comments during his first speaking engagement at the climate conference on Monday.

He also cast doubt over whether the core aim of COP26 - to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C - was achievable.

He said: “There are times I think when that makes us feel discouraged, naturally.

“On the other hand, if everybody follows through with just the commitments that have already been made at this conference, the latest data indicates that we get to about 1.8C.

“Now, that’s a big ‘if’, that’s still not enough. On the other hand there’s a difference.

“2.7C and 1.8C makes a big difference for island nations, and then 1.5C, that makes a big difference. Every degree to which we can mitigate counts.

“I think that... If we are following through on all the bold pronouncements and steps and pledges that have been made then that’s real progress.

“Not enough, but it moves us in the right direction.”

In a separate speech, Mr Obama took a swipe at his successor Donald Trump, saying he had overseen “four years of active hostility against climate science”.

Barack Obama arrives for Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2017 (REUTERS)
Barack Obama arrives for Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony in 2017 (REUTERS)

Speaking about the time between the Paris agreement and now, he said: “Back in the United States, some of our progress stalled when my successor decided to unilaterally out of the Paris agreement in his first year in office.

“I wasn't real happy about that.

“And yet the determination of our state and local governments, along with the regulations and investment that my administration had already put in place, allowed our country to keep moving forward, despite hostility from the White House.”

He continued: “Despite four years of active hostility towards climate science, coming from the very top of our federal government, the American people still managed to meet our original commitment under the Paris agreement.”

Mr Obama said that under the Biden administration the US government is “once again engaged and prepared to take a leadership role”.

Indigenous activists from the It Takes Roots campaign will be highlighting his legacy of military expansion into the Pacific, drone warfare and the use of military interventions on water protectors fighting against the Dakota Action Pipeline.

The action during COP26 claims US military is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world but is, so far, not obliged to publish emissions data for national security reasons.

In 2015, the Paris Climate accord was adopted which included a measure in which countries could voluntarily report on military emissions.

But so far there has been no legal requirement for nations to do so, and the issue of military emissions remains absent from the COP26 agenda.

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