Obama mixes up British references with Scottish references at COP26

For Scottish listeners, Barack Obama’s speech at COP26 was marred by some glaring errors.

Speaking at the Glasgow Climate Conference, the former President of the United States referred to their location first as the “Emerald Isles” and then to William Shakespeare as “The Poet”.

“Since we’re here in the Emerald Isles,” said Obama, “let me quote William Shakespeare cold.”

“The Emerald Isle” is a romantic name for Ireland, not the United Kingdom, and Shakespeare is considered “the Bard” in England, not Scotland, where poet Robert Burns holds this title.

In general, the former president’s speech was well received, even if the gaffes caused some Scots to worry. Obama, who helped broker the Paris climate agreement six years ago, greeted with extended applause.

His quote from Shakespeare, though awkwardly presented, makes a point about gradual progress against climate change.

“What a wound that heals once, but gradually,” Obama said. “Our planet has been damaged by our actions. These wounds will not heal today, tomorrow or later, but they can gradually heal.”

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“If we start in that spirit and each of us can fight the occasional frustration and fear, and if we commit to doing our part and then fulfilling those commitments, I think we can secure a better future, we have to do that.”

The 60-year-old Democrat also said he was happy that “significant progress” has been made since the Paris talks, but that “time is really running out”.

“We haven’t done enough to address this crisis,” Obama said. “We will have to do more, and whether or not that will happen will be largely up to you, not just you in this room, but anyone who has seen or read a copy of what I am saying here today . . . .”

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