Stately Deception: Obama at COP26

Image by Vlad Tchompalov.

Nothing signifies the ineptitude of the world’s capitalist powers more than the hollow pledges and smug platitudes that rang out at COP26. These meaningless promises, of course, are about as binding as a playground pinky shake. The same goes for the lofty speeches made by current and former heads of state, and none were more sanctimonious than Barack Obama’s steely climate lecture.

“Collectively and individually we are still falling short,” bellowed Obama, in his signature manner. “We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis. We are going to have to do more. Whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you.”

The crux of Obama’s speech was directed at the world’s youth, placing the burden of curtailing climate change on their shoulders. No doubt, if the planet’s young people were in charge of COP26, there wouldn’t be empty pledges and sneaky cop-outs (like the US/India/China/Russia refusing to end their coal production), there would be tangible goals, and harsh, real-world consequences for not abiding by these agreements.

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JOSHUA FRANK is the managing editor of CounterPunch. He is the author of the new book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America, published by Haymarket Books. He can be reached at You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

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