Bloomberg News

Obama Criticized by U.K. Minister for Lack of Climate Effort

November 23, 2011

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Minister of State for Climate Change Greg Barker criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for failing to make a “concerted political effort” in the fight against climate change.

“We need Obama not just to make speeches, but he needs to put his money where his mouth is and invest political capital domestically,” Barker told reporters today at a conference in London. “Unless the U.S. joins with the rest of the world and shows real leadership on this green agenda, we are not going to get a global agreement.”

Delegates from more than 190 countries gather next week in Durban, South Africa, for a new round of United Nations climate treaty talks. The discussions are deadlocked because Russia, Japan and Canada refuse to take on new binding commitments to cut greenhouse gases when current targets in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire at the end of 2012. They cite the absence of goals for the U.S., China and India, the three biggest emitters.

Obama has committed to cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent for the 15 years through 2020, so long as Congress passes domestic climate laws. He has yet to push emissions reductions through Congress after the Senate held up his legislation.

“He came to office with a huge amount of goodwill and huge degree of hope invested in the pledges that he made in the early days of his presidency to address the climate challenge,” Barker said. “There hasn’t, I believe, been a concerted political effort by the administration at a time when there was an opportunity potentially to push the agenda forward. Not acting then proved to be a huge loss.”

Barker, who will attend the talks in Durban, earlier today wrote on his Twitter feed: “Obama: Climate change ‘cannot be denied. We see it in stronger fires, devastating floods, Pacific islands confronting rising seas.’ THEN ACT!”

--Editors: Reed Landberg, Alex Devine

To contact the reporters on this story: Sally Bakewell in London at; Alex Morales in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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