Trump’s ‘Hostility’ Stalled Climate Change Progress, Obama Says At COP26

Barack Obama, the former president, criticized his White House successor, Donald Trump, for reducing environmental protections in his speech at the COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow. He was also criticizing Russia and China.

Barack Obama, former President of the United States, speaks out at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland on November 8, 2021. Getty Images

The Key Facts

Trump's election in 2016 saw Obama declare that "our progress was stalled" in fighting climate change. He criticized the decision of the previous administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an international agreement to combat global warming, which the U.S. entered into during Obama's term. However, he never mentioned Trump by name. Obama stated that despite Trump's "hostility” to environmental protections, the work of state and local governments and clean energy investments "allowed our nation to continue moving forward." Obama stated that President Joe Biden helped the U.S. turn its course and said the Build Back Better plan by Biden will help the U.S. create a more sustainable future. Obama said he was also disappointed by the absence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia from the conference. They are two of the top emitters of greenhouse gases.


Obama acknowledged that the transition from "dirty to clean energy" would be hard and costly. He encouraged leaders to reach out to "ordinary people," such as a worker who needs to drive to work, but can't afford a Tesla. Some communities still depend on coal to provide power and employment. Obama stated that it was not unreasonable to worry about this.

Important Quote

Obama stated, "There are times that I feel discouraged and the future seems somewhat bleak. When I doubt that humanity can get it together before too late," "Then, images of dystopia begin to creep into my dreams. . . When I feel depressed, I remind myself of the fact that cynicism can be used to get out of it. We can't afford hopelessness."

Important Background

Nearly 200 countries and the United States signed the 2015 Paris Agreement. This agreement set a goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius below preindustrial levels. Trump declared his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017. He also announced that he would be rolling back environmental regulations. However, the U.S. didn't officially leave the agreement until his last days in office. Biden re-joined the Paris Agreement in February and reversed many of Trump's environmental deregulations.

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White House: Trump Saves Environment. His record says otherwise. (Forbes)