Former President Barack Obama made an appearance during the COP26 climate summit on Monday, warning nations around the world that “we are nowhere near where we need to be” on responding to the challenges imposed by anthropogenic climate change.
“Meaningful progress has been made since Paris,” Obama said, adding, “Thanks to your efforts here in Glasgow, we see the promise of further progress.”
“We are going to have to do more, and whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you, and not just those of you in this room but anybody who’s watching or reading a transcript of what I say here today,” he continued.
Obama criticized Russia and China specifically for demonstrating what he called a “dangerous lack of urgency” and “willingness to maintain the status quo.”
“We need advanced economies like the U.S. and Europe leading on the issue, but you know the facts, we also need China and India leading on this issue,” he said. “We can’t afford anybody on the sidelines.”
Ultimately, Obama’s remarks ended on a more optimistic note.
“Whenever I feel … despondency I remind myself that cynicism is the recourse of cowards,” Obama said. “We can’t afford hopelessness, instead we are going to have to muster the will and the passion and the activism of citizens pushing governments companies and everyone else to meet this challenge.”
Obama also found time to criticize former President Donald Trump, who he said stymied efforts to meet goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
He said efforts by the U.S. to respond to climate change “stalled” when Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2017, but praised President Joe Biden’s administration, which he said is “once again engaged and prepared to take a leadership role.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.