Follow us for updates
© 2022
Read the Story →

Obama Says Youth 'Right to be Frustrated' at Climate Inaction

Countries failed to be 'ambitious' enough, he says.
by Agence France Presse
Nov 9, 2021
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on Nov. 8, 2021. The COP26 climate talks resuming Monday have so far unfolded on parallel planes, with high-level announcements stage-managed by host country Britain during week one riding roughshod over a laborious UN process built on consensus among nearly 200 countries.
Photo/s: Paul Ellis, Agence France-Presse

GLASGOW -- Former U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday he understood why young people were "frustrated" with climate inaction from leaders and that "most countries have failed" to live up to promises they made in the Paris Agreement.

Obama, who was U.S. leader in 2015 when the landmark accord was struck, said the world needed to "step up" its emissions-cutting pledges and work together to limit global temperature rises.  

"We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis," he told delegates in Glasgow. "We are going to have to do more and whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you."

In the six years since the Paris deal -- which seeks to limit global heating to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius -- planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions have continued to mount, and an assessment last week said that carbon pollution will rebound this year to pre-pandemic levels. 

Continue reading below ↓

"By some measures the agreement has been a success," Obama said. "(But) we are nowhere near where we need to be yet."

He admitted that "some of our progress stalled" when his successor Donald Trump chose to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from the Paris deal. 

President Joe Biden re-joined the accord when he took office. 

READ: US Officially Back in Paris Accord, Vows Climate Action

Obama said that China and Russia -- whose leaders skipped a high-level segment in Glasgow last week attended by more than 120 heads of state and government -- have shown a "dangerous lack of urgency" on climate commitments.  

"Most countries have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be," he added. 

"We need advanced economies like the U.S. and Europe leading on this issue but you know the facts. We also need China leading on this issue and India leading on this issue," said the former president. 

Continue reading below ↓
Recommended Videos

Addressing young activists who cheered and filmed his speech on their smartphones he said it was "not easy being young today."

"Most of your lives you've been bombarded with warnings about what the future will look like if you don't address climate change," he said. 

"Meanwhile, you're watching many of the adults who are in positions to do something about either act like the problem doesn't exist or refuse to make the hard decisions necessary to address it."


Earth a 'Sad Sight' from Space due to Climate Change, Astronaut Says

Climate Reality Check: Global CO2 Emissions are Near Record Levels

Here are the Key Findings in the UN's Grim Report on Climate Change 

'Get busy and vote'

He said that his generation's lack of urgency was "a real source of anxiety and real anger".

"You are right to be frustrated. My generation has not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit," said Obama.

Continue reading below ↓

Echoing advice he said his mother gave him whenever he was sad or frustrated, he advised young people: "Don't sulk. Get busy." 

"Get to work and change what needs to be changed. Luckily that's exactly what young people around the world are doing right now," he said.

He spoke of his admiration for the next generation of leaders, including Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg who inspired a global school strike for climate. 

He joked how he was "unlike Greta. I was not on the cover of Time magazine when I was 16 years old. And if I was skipping school, it had nothing to do with climate change."

Obama called on young people who were eligible to turn out and vote "like your life depends on it". 

"I recognize that a lot of young people might be cynical of politics. But the cold hard fact is we will not have more ambitious climate plans unless governments feel some pressure from voters," he said.

Continue reading below ↓


World's Youth Take to the Streets Again to Battle Climate Change

'30 Years of Blah Blah Blah': Greta Thunberg Questions World Climate Talks

Blackpink Rallies World Leaders, Blinks for 'Climate Action in Your Area' 

Reportr is now on Quento. Download the app or visit the Quento website for more articles and videos from Reportr and your favorite websites.

Latest Headlines
Read Next
Recent News
The news. So what? Subscribe to the newsletter that explains what the news means for you.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up to On Three, reportr's weekly newsletter delivered to your mailbox three times a week. Only the latest, most useful and most insightful reads.
By signing up to newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.