Keep fighting, Obama urges young climate activists

Nov 9, 2021, 12:33 AM | Updated: 7:28 am

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — At 19, Glasgow college student Ross Hamilton doesn’t think highly of world leaders — “they chat a lot of” nonsense — or expect them to accomplish anything on a problem he cares deeply about, climate change.

But there is one former world leader Hamilton trusts, at least enough to join several hundred Glasgow college students crowding outside their college in the dark Monday in hopes of a glimpse of him: Barack Obama. “I’ve always liked him. I feel as if he’s pretty honest.”

The former U.S. president, one of the leaders responsible for the 2015 Paris climate accord, came to the U.N. global climate talks in Glasgow, wielding his cross-generational appeal to urge frustrated climate activists to stay in the fight. Even five years out of office, and now 60, Obama still claims a rapport with liberal and moderate young people in a way that President Joe Biden, 78, might not be able to pull off.

Inside the glass-fronted building where Hamilton and other students of Glasgow’s Strathclyde University were waiting for him to emerge, Obama was sitting around a table with a dozen climate advocates from around the world, hearing them out and encouraging them.

Obama was in shirtsleeves and tieless, his hair whiter than during his presidency.

“The success of the movement shouldn’t be diminished even if some of the outcomes” have fallen short, Obama told the gathering of climate-focused people in their 20s and 30s. They included a lawmaker, a filmmaker, legal advocate, private and public businesspeople, foundation leaders and heads of activist groups.

“The question is, where are the countries that really met our expectations? And it turns out those are the places where there was pressure, where there was political mobilization, where there were activists,” Obama told them.

It’s all “going to depend on you guys to apply it,” he added.

Obama as president introduced programs to move the U.S. more toward renewable fuel and away from coal, although President Donald Trump rolled back most of them.

Not all younger people are Obama fans.

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate tweeted Monday that she was 13 when the United States, under Obama’s leadership, was among rich nations promising $100 billion a year to poor countries to help them fight and cope with warming, but said those nations broke the promise.

Nakate told The Associated Press on Monday that she wasn’t attacking the former president, “but that is me speaking the truth.”

“This money was promised, but it hasn’t been delivered,” Nakate said.

Especially in Europe, young activists are credited with pressuring governments to confront climate change. Most famously, teenager Greta Thunberg in 2018 launched a climate movement that has since drawn hundreds of thousands to weekly protests to demand governments end their dependence on coal, natural gas and oil.

After the Paris deal, Glasgow was billed as the talks where roughly 200 governments would put the accord into action.

Last Friday, Thunberg, now 18, branded the talks a “failure” after their first of two weeks. Speaking to tens of thousands of young climate demonstrators protesting Friday in the summit’s host city, Thunberg said national delegations at Glasgow were carving out loopholes for every pledge and “greenwashing” their own countries’ emissions.

Young people were finding it hard to believe a climate movement that had mobilized so many could fail, Luisa Neubauer, a leader of Thunberg’s movement in Germany, told Obama.

Neubauer told Obama she feared disillusionment was undermining peoples’ faith in democracy, “as people, especially activists, lose confidence in their governmental pledges, in what often turns out empty promises, in the lack of honesty about past failures.”

Stay the course, Obama told climate activists.

“Don’t think that you can ignore politics,” Obama said earlier, in a speech at the talks site that saw the former president draw short standing ovations.

“You don’t have to be happy about it, but you can’t ignore it. You can’t be too pure for it,” Obama said, devoting much of his speech to the young activists he said he came to Glasgow to be with it.

“It’s part of the process that is going to deliver all of us,” he said.


Associated Press writer Aniruddha Ghosal contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - This undated photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a wolf of th...
Associated Press

US sued in bid to force decision on Rockies wolf protections

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates sued federal officials Tuesday after the government missed a deadline to decide if protections for gray wolves should be restored across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains, where Republican-led states have made it easier to kill the predators. The Biden administration said in a preliminary finding last September that protections […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Grand jury declines to indict woman in Emmett Till killing

A grand jury in Mississippi has declined to indict the white woman whose accusation set off the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago, despite revelations about an unserved arrest warrant and a newly revealed memoir by the woman, a prosecutor said Tuesday. After hearing more than seven hours of testimony from […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Chicago top prosecutor: Vacate convictions tied to ex-cop

CHICAGO (AP) — The Cook County state’s attorney’s office on Tuesday asked judges to vacate eight murder convictions connected to a retired Chicago police detective accused of framing others who were sent to prison. State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters that her office no longer will oppose post-conviction litigation in eight cases following a 2019 […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a ne...
Associated Press

Giuliani must go to Atlanta for election probe, judge says

ATLANTA (AP) — A judge said Tuesday that Rudy Giuliani must appear in Atlanta in person to testify before a special grand jury that’s investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia and set his appearance for next week. The former New York mayor and Trump […]
13 hours ago
FILE - An Israeli soldier stands at the entrance to the Allenby border crossing, the main border cr...
Associated Press

Israel to allow Palestinians from West Bank to use airport

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Palestinians from the occupied West Bank will soon be allowed to travel on flights to Turkey out of an Israeli airport, the Israel Airports Authority said Tuesday. The move is part of a series of gestures Israel says it is making to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in both […]
13 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks before signing the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022" during a ceremony on ...
Associated Press

Biden signs $280B CHIPS act in bid to boost US over China

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing, part of his administration’s push to boost U.S. competitiveness over China. Flanked by scores of lawmakers, union officials, local politicians and business leaders, Biden feted the legislation, a core part of his economic agenda that will […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Keep fighting, Obama urges young climate activists