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09th Nov 2021

Barack Obama mixes up Scotland with Ireland by saying he was in “the Emerald Isles” at COP26

Stephen Porzio

The flub did not go unnoticed.

Barack Obama has raised some eyebrows in both Ireland and Scotland by confusing the two during his COP26 address.

Speaking at the climate change conference in Glasgow, the former US President said that though “meaningful progress” has been made since the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris six years ago, “collectively and individually we are still falling short”.

He also criticised his successor Donald Trump for pulling out of the Paris Agreement, stating: “I wasn’t real happy about that.”

However, it was when he was wrapping up his 45-minute speech that Obama made the error involving Ireland, claiming he was speaking in “the Emerald Isles”.

As Irish and UK audiences are well aware, the Emerald Isle is a term which is synonymous with Ireland, not Scotland.

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

This was before adding: “‘What wound,’ he writes, ‘did ever heal but by degrees.'”

You can witness the gaffe below at around the 62-minute mark.

Clip via UN Climate Change

Famously, then US President Obama visited Ireland in 2011 with his family which saw them stop off at Moneygall in Offaly, his Irish ancestral home.

He also delivered a speech at College Green in Dublin in front of a packed audience.

As for COP26, the conference – where Taoiseach Micheál Martin also delivered an address last week – will conclude on Friday (12 November).

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