8 reasons why Obama is NOT a climate hero

I don't want to hear a single pip ever again from liberals about how Obama/the Democrats are committed to tackling climate change.

1. The USG has pledged to spend $750 million per year to a Green Climate Fund to pay for adaptation and mitigation costs to nations in the Global South. In comparison, the amount of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy was estimated around $67 billion. Obama’s speech may have conceded that the US must take responsibility for its disproportionate contribution to the climate crisis. But US negotiators have been pushing for developing countries to contribute to this fund, which is ridiculous.

2. Just now, it is being reported that at least 270 people are dead and 1.8 million displaced in South India as the result of the worst flooding there in over a century. A UN report recently announced that one person is displaced every SECOND due to climate change and more than 28 million have been displaced since 2008. Climate justice cannot be achieved without opening the borders of industrialized nations to the millions of refugees displaced every year. Obama has done practically nothing on this front.

3. Yet again, the US is pushing for a non-binding agreement. This shows little progress from the Bush administration, which did acknowledge climate change and advocated for voluntary emissions reductions.

4. Acknowledging that climate change exists and implementing a policy response to it that meets international expectations are two different things. It’s time to stop praising politicians just because they think that we should do “something” about climate change. We need to be more skeptical about what that “something” is and in whose interests it will serve.

5. It’s been widely publicized that Obama has physically met with heads of state of small island nations which are set to disappear as a result of a ~1.5 degree temperature rise (pretty much inevitable right now). Six years ago, Obama’s negotiators did everything they could to block representatives of these nations from participating in negotiating a draft agreement. Sitting in a room with them and acknowledging their pain while offering little to no support as president of the United States isn’t solidarity. It’s disgusting.

6. If Obama cares about free speech, he should publicly criticize the decision of the French government to ban public protests. Christmas markets, football stadiums, and the corporate-led “Solutions 21” grand exhibition have been allowed to go ahead. Meanwhile, if two or more people stand next to one another with a sign they are subject to arrest. Most of these protests are highly critical of US policies.

7. Hillary Clinton led US negotiations at COP15 and played a primary role in continuing the Byzantine-style negotiations of previous administrations. For this reason, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a Clinton administration from acting any differently. The pressure from the US business lobby is so big that it's doubtful that a Sanders presidency would be capable of changing course. Obama’s lackluster performance at COP15, which took place early on in his presidency at a time when he had the popular mandate to take a tougher stance on emissions, confirmed the extent to which US involvement in these negotiations is directed by corporate interests.

8. In two decades of yearly negotiations, it has never been politically expedient for any US leader to show meaningful leadership. Even Clinton's participation in the Kyoto protocol (which was not ratified by Congress) saw it watered down. 2015 was supposed to be the year for peak emissions in order for the 2 degree limit on temperature rise to work (even in this case, it was with 66% certainty). Waiting for the next election to see real policy change isn't an option.

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