Obama and House Republicans Visit COP Negotiations in Glasgow
Monday marked the official launch of week two of the Negotiations here in Glasgow. Just like the first week of negotiations, week two also started with some special guests. It was announced over the weekend that President Obama would be making several speeches to delegates and negotiators at COP 26. While the former President brought a message of urgency and ambition, the climate talks were also joined by Congressman Crenshaw of Texas (more on that below).
President Obama was truly celebrity status here at COP 26. In all of his speaking engagements, he was closely followed by his former Secretary of State, turned climate envoy, John Kerry. The two’s lockstep made it clear that he was there as a guest of the US Delegation in an attempt to lift negotiations at the start of week two. While many former global heads of state frequent the climate talks, this was the first for the former President. While he was greeted with increased excitement, only time will tell if that energy turns into action over the coming days.
Much of the former President’s remarks were aimed at the youth audience present here at the COP. “Companies will lose customers and top-flight employees if they’re not on the right side of this issue.” He said to a plenary with over 200 attendees. He continued to focus on the role of the private sector and noted that, “Corporations care about the bottom line, so young people can use their purchasing power to demand change. Members of your generation have shown you are willing to pay for products that are responsive to the climate challenge.”
The former President was not the only person roaming the halls at COP. Several ASBC Members flew in for week two of the conference. Jesse Uzzell from Climate Futures, Kayalin Akins-Irby from Planet FWD and Francesco Benedito of ClimateTrade are all in attendance. While the interests range across our delegation, we are all coming with a clear message that the private sector is ready to step up to the moment and push for an ambitious outcome here in Glasgow.
While ASBC has come to push for an ambitious outcome at COP, that can’t be said about everyone who flew over to Glasgow from the USA. Congressman Crenshaw of Texas was touring the COP alongside several other conservatives who found their way here. Congressman Crenshaw, who is known for his media savviness and quick inflammatory remarks seemed to only be in attendance to try to get a rise out of those who were there to be constructive. The congressman, who seemed to care more about Houston’s fossil fuel interests rather the vulnerable flood prone constituents, pushed that addressing the climate crisis would put unneeded expense on the American economy.
Week two of the climate negotiations will be filled with late nights as delegations work around the clock to resolve some of the remaining issues around the rules to carbon markets and final rules around loss and damage or who should be responsible for global communities feeling the impact of the climate crisis.
It is important that we keep the energy up and the ambition high headed into week two. The ASBC Delegation plays a key role in showing how the business community can be engaged and active COP participant. Coming out of week one, several news outlets have reported that current COP pledges have now broken the barrier of 2 degrees centigrade of warming. This is a big deal. It means that country pledges are starting to bend the curve and have a meaningful impact. While we are off from staying inside planetary boundaries, we are a wee bit closer to where many thought we were headed into this COP. That progress is only made possible by the commitments and consistent pushing of an engaged business community. Often addressing the climate crisis may feel like a doomed mission from the start but let this count as proof that we are collectively making an impact.