Former President Barack Obama on Monday blasted former President Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement and criticized Republicans for inaction on climate change.
"Some of our progress stalled when my successor decided to unilaterally pull out of the Paris Agreement in his first year in office," Obama said during a speech in Glasgow, Scotland, at the COP26 climate summit. "I wasn't real happy about that."
Obama said he and President Joe Biden had been "constrained in large part by the fact that one of our two major parties has decided not only to sit on the sidelines but express active hostility toward climate science and make climate change a partisan issue. For those listening back home in the U.S., let me say this: It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat if your Florida house is flooded by rising seas, or your crops fail in the Dakotas, or your California house is burning down."
The Paris Agreement was a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris, on Dec. 12, 2015, when Obama was president, and entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016 (at the time when Trump was elected). Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the agreement in 2017, but the U.S. was obliged to stay in the agreement until November 2020.
The goal was to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Centigrade.
Obama blamed a lack of global progress on climate change to Trump's skepticism of climate change and dislike of international treaties, the Daily Mail reported.
"I recognize that we're living in a moment when international cooperation has atrophied -- in part because of the pandemic, in part because of the rise of nationalism and tribal impulses around the world, in part because of a lack of leadership on America's part for four years on a host of multilateral issues," he said.
The conference, in its second week, has attracted world leaders and climate activists in the hope of limiting temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees centigrade by 2050.
Russia and China were notable no-shows in Glasgow, however.
"I have to confess it was particularly discouraging to see the leaders of two of the world's largest emitters, China and Russia, declined to even attend the proceedings," Obama said.
"Their national plans so far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency or willingness to maintain the status quo on the part of those governments and that's a shame."
The former president called for real change to tackle the climate crisis.
He told delegates how he had a "hard time" staying away from COP26 in Glasgow.
"Even though I'm not required to attend summits like this any more, old habits die hard," he said.
"And when the issue at hand is the health of our planet, and the world our children and our grandchildren will inherit, then you will have a hard time keeping me away. That's why I'm here today."
He also urged youth to push world leaders to act on climate change, Reuters reported.
He said meaningful progress had been made since Paris, but he said: "When it comes to climate, time really is running out. 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 you in this room, but anybody who's watching or reading a transcript of what I'm saying here today."
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