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The fight between environmentalists and deniers of the United States reached COP26

Former US President Barack Obama speaking in front of delegates at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.  REUTERS / Yves Herman
Former US President Barack Obama speaking in front of delegates at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. REUTERS / Yves Herman

With his 1.87 height and gazelle gait, former US President Barack Obama entered the environment summit venue in Glasgow with the imprint of a rock star. He walked the corridors accompanied by his former Secretary of State and who is now the special envoy for Climate Change issues, John Kerry. Delegates, journalists, activists and employees crowded a makeshift catwalk to watch him pass. They clapped and took photos with cell phones. There was not so much expectation to see a character in a COP, since two years ago, in Madrid, the great little Greta Thunberg appeared for the first time.

When he took the stage the huge main convention hall was packed. No other leader had managed to fill that place. Some gave speeches for fewer than 10 people. Obama gathered as many fans as political expectation and received two ovations during his 44 minutes before the microphone. Proclaimed that “America is back!” in a direct reference to the climate change denier, Donald Trump, who withdrew his country from the Paris Agreement. Also, he urged young people to have hope in the face of cynicism and despair, and criticized China, Russia and the Republican Party for their neglect of an “existential” problem.

“Some of our progress stalled when my successor decided to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris agreement in his first year in office; I was not amused”Obama told delegates from around the world at the Scottish Event Campus, along the River Clyde. “And yet the determination of our state and local governments – along with the regulations and investments that my administration had already put in place – allowed our country to continue advancing, despite the hostility of the time from the White House”.

Steve Scalise, the head of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, said that climate change had to be dramatized. "It gets hot, it gets cold, that's called mother nature", said.  Graeme Jennings / Pool via REUTERS
Steve Scalise, the head of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, said that climate change had to be dramatized. “It gets hot, it gets cold, that’s called mother nature,” he said. Graeme Jennings / Pool via REUTERS

Obama admitted that the United States still has “a lot of work to do,” but praised President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill – passed Friday by the House of Representatives – and expressed confidence that the Build Back bill Better is also law in the coming weeks. “This program dedicates more than half a trillion dollars to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1 billion metric tons by the end of the decade”.

He also encouraged the boys who demonstrated this weekend in the streets of Glasgow called by the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. “Stay angry!” told them in what resembled Pope Francis’ proclamation in Brazil when he urged young Catholics to “Keep making trouble.”

And at that moment, Obama lunged at the presidents who refused to attend the summit. “It was especially disappointing to see that the leaders of two of the world’s largest emitters, China and Russia, declined to even attend the deliberations, and their national plans thus far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency – a willingness to maintain the status quo – on the part of both governments, “Obama said. “It is a pity. We need advanced economies, such as the United States and Europe, to lead this issue …We also need China and India to lead, we need Russia to lead, just as we need Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil to lead.. We cannot allow anyone to be left out ”.

In the middle of his speech, Obama lashed out at Republicans who “continue to reject the overwhelming scientific consensus” on global warming. “One of our two main parties has decided not only to stand aside, but express active hostility towards climate science and make climate change a partisan issue“Said the former president. And he added to his international audience: “Perhaps some of you have a similar dynamic in your own countries, although, in general, the United States seems to have a more vigorous opposition to climate change than in many other places.” And he opined that Republicans who are serious about climate change they are “a rare bird right now.”

Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg presented their radically opposite positions on climate change at the Davos forum in 2019, where the US president denounced the "catastrophists" and the young Swedish activist regretted, on the contrary, that "nothing has been done" for the planet.
Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg presented their radically opposite positions on climate change at the Davos forum in 2019, where the US president denounced the “catastrophists” and the young Swedish activist lamented, on the contrary, that “nothing has been done” for the planet.

In fact, they were listening to him there, in the first row of the room, six Republican legislators who form the first delegation from that party to officially attend an environment summit. In Washington, Democrats are facing a conservative rebellion within their party and, particularly, the mass of Republican lawmakers who continue to delay the passage of a major social spending bill that includes a historic $ 555 billion investment in climate mitigation.

The Representative, Garret Graves, Republican of Louisiana, assured that the Republicans were not in Glasgow “just to attend the cocktail parties of the delegations” and that they were going to hold a series of meetings to emphasize a different approach to climate change than Joe Biden. “Republicans are very concerned about the environment and preserving it for future generations,” insisted John Curtis, another Republican congressman, eastern Utah. “We have ideas and we want to be at the table to find solutions.”

But in Washington the Republican Party continues to be permeated by denial rhetoric that remains intact since Trump left the White House. Last week, Steve Scalise, the head of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, assured that the climate changes that cause major catastrophes around the world had to be dramatized. “It heats up, it gets cold, that’s called mother nature,” he said.. Scalise added that “carbon emissions have existed before man walked the Earth … the idea that hurricanes or wildfires have been caused only in recent years is simply a fallacy”. Other Republicans criticized President Biden’s attendance at COP26. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, unrelated to the famous Democratic family, denounced that Biden, his envoy for the climate, John Kerry, and “Other Trotsky-type fighters” they want to “buy natural gas and oil from other countries, and basically give the countries that hate us more money, so that they have weapons to try to kill us”.

Former US President Barack Obama in full debate at the University of Strathclyde during the Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland (REUTERS / Dylan Martinez)
Former US President Barack Obama in full debate at the University of Strathclyde during the Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland (REUTERS / Dylan Martinez)

Internal American politics crept into Glasgow. The fight in Washington among liberals who want more legislation to stop climate change and put the United States at the forefront of caring for the environment faces a large number of conservatives whose campaigns to reach Congress were financed, and continue to receive funds permanently, by the powerful oil industry. And both positions were exposed to raw meat at this COP26. Obama, beyond just a golf getaway at the famous St. Andrews course, will meet with representatives of the nations most affected by climate change such as the islands of the Caribbean and the Pacific to which the oceans are eating a good part of their territories. Obama was born in Hawaii and claims to be “an island man.” It will bring to Washington the demand of these countries for the richest powers to help them economically because otherwise they will disappear. But in the US capital he will meet the Trumpist opposition who assures that the rise in sea level is just “a cycle of mother nature that has nothing to do with man”.

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HELEN HERNANDEZ

Helen Hernandez is our best writer. Helen writes about social news and celebrity gossip. She loves watching movies since childhood. Email: Helen@oicanadian.com Phone : +1 281-333-2229

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