Former US president Barack Obama has said "most countries have failed" to live up to promises they made in the Paris climate deal as he addressed attendees at the COP26 summit.

Mr Obama, who was US leader in 2015 when the landmark accord was struck, said the world needed to "step up" its emissions-cutting pledges and work together to limit global temperature rises.

"We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis," he told delegates in Glasgow. "We are going to have to do more and whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you."

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In the six years since the Paris deal, which seeks to limit global heating to between 1.5 and 2C, planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions have continued to mount, and an assessment last week said that carbon pollution will rebound this year to pre-pandemic levels.

"By some measures the agreement has been a success," Mr Obama said. "(But) we are nowhere near where we need to be yet."

However, he admitted that "some of our progress stalled" when his successor Donald Trump chose to unilaterally withdraw the US from the Paris deal.

Current President Joe Biden re-joined the accord when he took office.

Mr Obama said that China and Russia, whose leaders skipped a high-level segment in Glasgow last week attended by more than 120 heads of state and government, have shown a "dangerous lack of urgency" on climate commitments.

"Most countries have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be," he said.

"We need advanced economies like the US and Europe leading on this issue but you know the facts. We also need China leading on this issue and India leading on this issue," said the former president.

He said the world was undergoing a "moment when international cooperation has waned".

"But there is one thing that should transcend our day-to-day politics and normal geopolitics. And that is climate change."

The US is history's largest polluter but plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


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Ryan says 'not enough progress made' at COP26

The Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, said there has not been enough progress made at the United Nations COP26 conference as he arrived at the Glasgow event.

He was able to travel to Scotland after an initial positive Covid-19 test was overturned by a subsequent result.

An initial PCR test, taken on Friday, had returned a positive result, leading him to cancel his travel plans. However, a follow-up test indicated that he did not have the virus.

Speaking to the media in Glasgow, Mr Ryan said he took the first test on Friday.

He added: "It was standard enough. On Saturday I got the text saying you are positive. I went home and followed all the protocols.

"The main thing I had to work out was my contact tracing. I contacted the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste.

"After that, the HSE contacted my private secretary. The details of the first test had been inconclusive, even in those circumstances you get a positive reading.

"It is standard to have a second test, particularly in circumstances where you weren't symptomatic and you were just doing the test as part of a routine travel arrangement.

"So I did a test that evening and the next morning it came back negative.

"I followed medical advice right the way through. I didn't have to isolate. Had I ignored that advice I would have been going against the health advice. The health advice was go about your business as normal. That is what I did."

Asked if he was aware of the perception that there was one rule for Government figures and another for other people, he said: "I am very conscious of that. But the only thing I could do was follow the health advice, follow the protocols, do what I was told by the HSE.

"I kept in touch with the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste and followed the protocols. Then I said why should I not travel? I would not be taking the advice from the HSE."

Minister Eamon Ryan said he hoped Ireland could bring influence to bear through its membership of the European Union negotiating team
Eamon Ryan said he hoped Ireland could bring influence to bear through its membership of the EU negotiating team

Speaking in Glasgow, Mr Ryan said he was very glad to be able to attend and hoped Ireland could bring influence to bear through its membership of the European Union negotiating team.

Mr Ryan said getting support for developing countries was an important part of the work he hoped to do this week.

He said he hoped "momentum" could be built through the week towards a deal.

"There hasn't been enough progress to date either here or at the 25 preceding COPs. The non-governmental bodies were right to call that out at the marches at the weekend. So we've got to be impatient for more progress," he said.

Countries still 'worlds apart' on key climate issues

As the UN climate talks enter their final week, countries are still worlds apart on key issues including how rapidly the world curbs carbon emissions and how to help nations already impacted by global heating.

After a week of headline announcements from host Britain on ending deforestation and phasing out coal, experts say the underlying COP26 negotiations have barely progressed.

Countries are in Glasgow to work out how to implement the Paris Agreement's goals of limiting temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2C. And while recent announcements mean they have inched closer, many disputes remain unresolved.

These include ratcheting up ambition on national carbon reduction plans, providing a long-promised $100bn annually to developing nations and rules governing carbon markets.

"All countries are playing hardball," Stephen Leonard, a climate law and policy specialist and veteran COP observer said.

"The EU want the highest ambition possible. The African countries want as much finance for adaptation as possible. Australia and Japan want to be able to trade as much carbon as possible."

A first formal "stocktake" today will see countries and negotiating blocs air any views or grievances they have after the first week of talks.

COP26 is taking place a year late due to the Covid-19 pandemic and against a backdrop of ever-stronger drought, flooding and storms supercharged by higher temperatures battering countries across the globe.

Its first week saw around 100 nations commit to slash their emissions of methane - a powerful greenhouse gas - by at least 30% by 2030.

In another development likely to dent emissions, India - the fourth largest polluter - said it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2070.

Experts said these announcements, along with countries' latest emissions cutting pledges, could have a real impact on future temperature rises.

But a UN assessment late last week found emissions were still on course to increase 13.7% by 2030.

To keep warming to 1.5C, they must fall 45% this decade.

People on the streets of Glasgow have been calling for climate action

Tens of thousands of people thronged the streets of Glasgow on Saturday demanding faster action from governments after environmental activist Greta Thunberg branded the summit "a failure".

"Last week saw a flurry of announcements, from halting deforestation to reducing methane emissions," said Tracy Carty, head of Oxfam.

"Yet, for some of these announcements there is a glaring lack of detail. They must not be a distraction from the urgent issue of countries needing to increase the ambition of their national emission reduction targets by 2030."

'We are not closing coal mines'

Dozens of nations have signed up to a COP26 initiative to end their use of coal - the most polluting fossil fuel - within decades, including major users South Korea and Vietnam.

But the pact excluded the top consumers China, India and the United States.

Major exporter Australia, which also declined to join the initiative, said today it would continue to sell coal for "decades into the future".

EnergyAustralia's Yallourn Power Station in the Latrobe Valley

"We have said very clearly we are not closing coal mines and we are not closing coal-fired power stations," Australian Minister for Resources Keith Pitt told national broadcaster ABC.

Australia has been among the countries to recently unveil 2050 net zero plans criticised by scientists and green groups for lacking detail and relying heavily on as-yet-unrealised technologies to suck CO2 out of the air.