Day eight at Cop26: As one climate warrior departs, another appears

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Former president Barack Obama was a star attraction at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Former president Barack Obama was a star attraction at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

Much like the buses of the great city playing host to the key climate summit, US presidents have been like buses in Glasgow – you wait so long for one to show up, and two appear within a week.

Dozens of people gathered to see the former president arrive for an event (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Dozens of people gathered to see the former president arrive for an event (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

– BREAKING: Man enters building, dozens cheer

Crowds gathered to see former US president Barack Obama achieve the Herculean feat of walking down a flight of stairs, followed by a jaunt of around 10ft into a nearby meeting room where he spoke at an event on the impacts of climate change on island communities.

The onlookers gasped and applauded as the man who spearheaded the Paris agreement in 2015 almost glided past them, with even hardened political journalists swooning at the thought of being so close to the first black president.

In an action-packed day, Mr Obama spoke at the event in the morning, before addressing Cop26 in the afternoon, punctuated by private meetings and a roundtable with young activists.

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

President Obama declared ‘the US is back’ after the presidency of Donald Trump (Chris Szagola/PA) (PA Archive)
President Obama declared ‘the US is back’ after the presidency of Donald Trump (Chris Szagola/PA) (PA Archive)

– Channelling his inner Alan Partridge

In a move reminiscent of the Steve Coogan character and his re-launch after a breakdown, former president Obama declared to delegates in Glasgow “the US is back” after the presidency of Donald Trump 

Just where the property developer turned politician took the world’s biggest economic power is not quite clear, but judging from the actions of a group of his supporters in Washington DC in early January, it is probably best the country did not stay there.

President Obama mistakenly referred to the UK as the ‘Emerald Isles’ (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
President Obama mistakenly referred to the UK as the ‘Emerald Isles’ (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

– Hope and change in the… Emerald Isles?

In a speech typical of the man, the former president spoke with passion, fluidity and timing, even dropping in a few jokes about being able to get away with not wearing a tie without some portions of the US press corps clutching their collective pearls.

Watch: Barack Obama calls for climate action to save island nations

But, no one – not event the former resident of the Oval Office, holder of the position of Washington, Lincoln and Kennedy – is perfect, as was proven by a rare gaffe in referencing the “Emerald Isles” as he went on to quote from Shakespeare’s Othello.

The gaffe was easily missed, but given the line was delivered some 172 miles (as the crow flies) from the Republic of Ireland, someone in the former leader’s team may be in for a Baracking.

The climate activist returned to Sweden over the weekend (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
The climate activist returned to Sweden over the weekend (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

– School’s back for Greta

Precocious climate campaigner, and one of the most famous teens in the world, Greta Thunberg left the summit over the weekend after leading about 25,000 young people on a march, in favour of a return to school.

Known for ditching classes to protest outside the Swedish parliament, Greta opted to leave the dreary grey of Glasgow for the dreary grey of Stockholm.

Presumably, the stories of what she did on her break would trump the holiday parks and summer jobs of her peers.

Watch: Indigenous activists protest at COP26

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