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Climate and Environment

Biden says China, Russia failed to lead at climate summit

Agence France-Presse
Biden says China, Russia failed to lead at climate summit
US President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. World leaders meeting at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will issue a multibillion-dollar pledge to end deforestation by 2030 but that date is too distant for campaigners who want action sooner to save the planet's lungs.
AFP/Brendan Smialowski

GLASGOW, United Kingdom — US President Joe Biden on Tuesday accused China and Russia of failing to show leadership on climate change in blistering criticism of their leaders for not attending the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Speaking at the UN summit aimed at forging an ambitious new climate agreement, Biden called his own presence and promises proof that "America is back" after the go-it-alone approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.

"The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader — not showing up, come on!" Biden told journalists before flying out of Glasgow.

"It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?" Biden said.

"It's been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said 'what value are they providing?'," he added.

Xi, who leads the world's largest emitter of carbon emissions responsible for climate change, has not travelled outside of China since the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Biden was even more scathing about Russian President Vladimir Putin, who does travel and met the US president in Geneva in June. Russia is the world's fourth largest emitter.

"His tundra is burning — literally, the tundra is burning. He has serious, serious climate problems, and he is mum on willingness to do anything," he said.

America is back

Biden has ramped up US climate action with promises to zero out carbon emissions by 2050, a sharp reversal from the climate-skeptic Trump, although Biden still faces domestic hurdles on moving ahead.

Biden said he was making good on his vow on his first international trip as president — to the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall in June — that the United States was returning to the international stage.

"Two world leaders came up to me today and said, 'Thank you for your leadership. You're making a big difference here,'" Biden said, acknowledging his comments sounded "self-serving."

US officials had earlier expected Xi to meet Biden for the first time as president at this weekend's Group of 20 summit in Rome.

The two countries, however, instead said they would meet virtually by the end of the year. Biden said no date has been set. 

Biden said he hoped their talks would bring more predictability in relations that have been soured by disputes on myriad fronts, including human rights and China's growing assertiveness on Taiwan.

"I'm going to be clear. This is competition; it does not have to be conflict," Biden said.

"I have also indicated to him — and I'm not reluctant to say it publicly -- that we expect him to play by the rules of the road."

Biden recently made waves by appearing to say the United States would militarily defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China, which claims the self-governing democracy.

The United States provides weapons to the island but is deliberately ambiguous on whether it would defend it.

Without addressing Taiwan directly, Biden said he did not believe there would be conflict with China, which his administration has identified as the top challenge of the 21st century.

"I don't anticipate there will be a need for physical conflict," Biden said.

CHINA

CLIMATE CHANGE

CLIMATE CRISIS

COP26

JOE BIDEN

RUSSIA

UNITED STATES

VLADIMIR PUTIN

XI JINPING

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 26, 2022 - 5:15pm

Bookmark this page for updates on the United Nations climate summit, known as COP26. Photo courtesy of AFP/Tolga Akmen

May 26, 2022 - 5:15pm

Australia will present a more ambitious UN emissions target "very soon" and is bidding to co-host a COP summit with Pacific island neighbours, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Thursday, signalling a ground shift in climate policy.

During a first solo overseas visit since her centre-left government was sworn in, Wong admitted that on the climate, "Australia has neglected its responsibility" under past administrations.

She told hosts in Fiji's capital Suva that there would be no more "disrespecting" Pacific nations or "ignoring" their calls to act on climate change.

"We were elected on a platform of reducing emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050," Wong said. — AFP

March 29, 2022 - 3:31pm

Countries have proposed to hold an extra biodiversity meeting in Nairobi in June as talks in Geneva tasked with saving nature entered their final day Tuesday without an agreement.

In a document uploaded on the conference website, dated Monday, countries suggest holding a new meeting in the Kenyan capital between June 21 and 26 to "continue negotiations" on the document and other issues. 

The decision is subject to official approval by the Geneva meeting before it wraps up later Tuesday. — AFP

November 15, 2021 - 7:25am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday hails a global accord to speed up action against climate change as "truly historic" and "the beginning of the end for coal power".

But he says his "delight at this progress" at the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow was "tinged with disappointment" because of a failure to secure the agreement of all countries to phase out hydrocarbons.

"Those for whom climate change is already a matter of life and death, who can only stand by as their islands are submerged, their farmland turned to desert, their homes battered by storms, they demanded a high level of ambition from this summit," says Johnson. — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 6:02pm

A UN climate summit text on Saturday urges nations to accelerate the phase-out of unfiltered coal and "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies, after large emitters tried to remove the mention of polluting fuels. 

The text, which comes after two weeks of frantic negotiations at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, omitted any reference to specific finance for "loss and damage" -- the mounting cost of global heating so far -- which has been a key demand of poorer nations.

The mention on Saturday of fossil fuels was weaker than a previous draft, which called on countries to "accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels". — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 9:11am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeals to richer countries to stump up more money to secure a breakthrough, exposing a central fault line at the marathon talks. 

Developing economies led by India have balked at demands to do more to curb emissions without promised financial support to transition away from fossil fuels, and to adapt to the accelerating impacts of climate change. — AFP

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