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Barack Obama fears failure and urges passion in climate summit speech


Obama said it was discouraging that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin had chosen not to attend and that “their national plans reflect what appears to be a dangerous absence of urgency, a willingness to maintain the status quo”.

Directly addressing the world’s youth, he said they were right to be frustrated at older generations’ ongoing failure to address the issue, but called on them to keep active and to vote as though their lives depended on it.

Political processes were slow moving, but small victories added up and gained their own impetus, he said.

Asked about her view of progress of the conference, Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and a key architect of the Paris Agreement, said she was concerned about “countries like Australia that have said nice things [reaching net zero emissions by 2050], but are not saying what they are doing over the next 10 years”.

She said in her view “greenwashing is the new climate denial”.

A division between rich and developing nations over mechanisms for wealthy nations for loss and damage caused by climate change deepened in talks on Monday.

While rich nations agreed in Paris to secure financial support for poorer nations for mitigating climate change and adapting to it, advanced economies led by the US have opposed payments for loss and damage due to climate change, fearing such payments might be interpreted as admitting culpability for climate change by advanced economies.

The United Nations also was forced to defend the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists at the talks after an analysis by the non-government group Global Witness analysed a guest list and found that more than 500 were registered to attend, more than the world’s largest national delegation.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said it was up to individual countries to bring who they liked, and the COP conference took an inclusive approach, Bloomberg reported.

“Some of the constituents may accredit some people that may be linked to some of these fossil fuels. The same in the case of some party delegations. It is really the sovereign right of every government to accredit as part of its delegation the persons that it deems appropriate,” she said.

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