Obama: ‘Time is really running out’ for climate action

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former US President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 8, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Former US President Barack Obama has said that “time is really running out” to contain global warming and urged young people to pressure their leaders to do more to combat climate change.

Speaking at the COP26 climate summit on Monday in Glasgow, Scotland, Obama touted international climate progress but warned that “we are nowhere near where we need to be yet.”

“Meaningful progress has been made since Paris,” Obama told world leaders, adding, “Thanks to your efforts here in Glasgow, we see the promise of further progress.”

The former US president told people at the United Nations summit that “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, 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 added.

Obama agreed with climate campaigners, and said "time is really running out."

"You are right to be frustrated," he said. "Folks in my generation have not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit."

Obama said that he found it "particularly discouraging" to see the leaders of China and Russia failed to attend the Glasgow talks.

Obama also criticized Republican politicians back home for hindering progress on climate action.

Russian, Chinese and others' "national plans so far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency and willingness to maintain the status quo on the part of those governments, and that's a shame," he said.

In response to US criticism of the Chinese president not attending the COP26 Glasgow climate change summit, Beijing has said “tackling climate change requires concrete action, not empty words.”

Obama’s statement comes as House Democrats and Senate have called on US President Joe Biden to use targeted sanctions to punish individuals and companies that are worsening the global climate crisis.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers particularly targeted China and its companies despite the fact that studies show that the US military is the largest consumer of hydrocarbons on the planet and one of the largest polluters in history.

According to the New York Times, the United States has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.

The lawmakers urged the US administration to use sanction authorities under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to target individuals and companies that are found to be involved in climate-related corruption and human rights abuses abroad.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations used the Magnitsky Act became to target individuals and companies they said were engaged in corruption or human rights abuses around the world.

Largely individuals and companies from Russia, China, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba have been targeted.




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