Energy & Environment

Biden disappointed by lack of climate commitments from China, Russia

President Biden on Sunday said he was frustrated by the lack of climate commitments from China and Russia as world leaders gathered in Europe for the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit and the COP26 climate summit.

“Russia and… China basically didn’t show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate. And there’s a reason why people should be disappointed in that. I found it disappointing myself,” Biden said at a press conference following the G-20.

Biden will travel Sunday to Glasgow, Scotland, where world leaders are gathering for COP26, a summit intended to confront the mounting problems presented by climate change. Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend in person. 

The G-20 leaders on Sunday issued a broad statement pledging to reach net-zero emissions by “around” 2050, a less ambitious goal than some individual nations and climate advocates have said is necessary to prevent dramatic consequences from climate change. 

“While I welcome the #G20’s recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a tweet.

Facing criticism that the G-20 climate deal was watered down and unspecific, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi defended the two-day summit. 

“We made sure that our dreams are not only alive but they are progressing,” said Draghi, acting president of the G-20. “It is easy to suggest difficult things. It is very, very difficult to actually execute them,” he added.

Biden separately pointed to G-20 agreements to end the subsidization of coal and broader talks that he hopes will make the COP26 gathering more productive.  

“I think you’re going to see we’ve made significant progress,” Biden said. “And more has to be done, but it’s going to require us to continue to focus on what China’s not doing, what Russia’s not doing, and what Saudi Arabia is not doing.”

China on Thursday released a white paper outlining the country’s policies and goals for responding to climate change but containing few new objectives or initiatives ahead of COP26.

Tags China Climate change COP26 Joe Biden Russia Vladimir Putin

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