Former President Barack Obama called on world leaders to save the planet, but he couldn’t quite identify which country he was in.
Mr. Obama‘s speech Monday at the COP26 climate-change summit is being mocked for his reference to host Scotland as part of the “Emerald Isles,” which is a nickname for Ireland.
“Since we’re in the Emerald Isles here let me quote the Bard, William Shakespeare,” Mr. Obama said. “‘What wound,’ he writes, ‘did ever heal but by degrees?’”
Observers pointed out Mr. Obama actually committed two gaffes in the same breath. Shakespeare is considered the bard of England — yet another country. Scotland’s bard is poet Robert Burns.
The Express, a publication in the United Kingdom, commented that Mr. Obama “attempted a local reference but failed spectacularly.” Another paper called Mr. Obama‘s mixups “conspicuous flubs.”
Mr. Obama also raised some eyebrows by pronouncing Glasgow, the host city in Scotland, as “glass-cow.” And he joked about the “weak coffee and bad food” at the U.N. conference.
In the substantive parts of his remarks, the former president said “time is really running out” for global action to combat climate change. He criticized Russia and China for not attending the conference, and he blamed Republicans in Washington for resisting policies to address global warming.
He also faulted the record of his Republican opponents in Congress when he was in the White House.
“Thinking back on my own experience as president, I would’ve had the power to do even more to fight climate change during my time in office if I’d had a stable congressional majority that was willing and eager to take action,” Mr. Obama said. “For the bulk of my presidency, I didn’t have that majority.”
He said President Biden’s still-pending, $1.85 trillion “Build Back Better” legislation “will be historic and a huge plus for U.S. action on climate change.”
“That legislation will devote over half a trillion dollars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over a billion metric tons by the end of the decade, at least 10 times more than any legislation previously passed by Congress. Along the way, it will reduce consumer energy costs,” Mr. Obama said.
But he said Mr. Biden “wanted to do even more” and that Republicans were again to blame.
Mr. Biden is “constrained by the absence of a robust majority that’s needed to make that happen,” Mr. Obama said. “Both of us have been constrained in large part by the fact that one of our two major parties has decided not only to sit on the sidelines, but express active hostility toward climate science and make climate change a partisan issue.”
Mr. Obama urged young people to “vote like your life depends on it, because it does.”
“Gaining such [liberal] majorities require an engaged citizenry, willing to do what it takes to reward politicians who take this problem seriously and send out of office those who don’t,” he said.