Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Global Affairs

COP26: Biden attacks China, Russia leaders for missing summit as Malawi leader urges rich countries to meet emissions cuts

US President Joe Biden attacks Russia, China leaders for missing climate change summit

US President Joe Biden has criticised the leaders of China and Russia for not turning up to the COP26 climate summit.

In a speech on Tuesday night, Mr Biden said climate was “a gigantic issue” and China “walked away” – adding it was the “same thing with Russia and Putin”.

Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor Chinese leader Xi Jinping are at the summit.

Both countries however have sent delegations to the talks, which are due to run for two weeks until 14 November.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, followed by the US. Russia is the fifth largest after the EU and India.

More than 120 leaders turned up at the conference in Scotland’s largest city.

Countries have already announced major deals, including a global pledge to slash methane levels by 2030 as well as to end and reverse deforestation by the same year.

Both China and Russia are signatories of the pledge to reverse deforestation.

Before Mr Biden’s speech, Mr Putin virtually addressed a meeting on forest management at the COP26 summit on Tuesday, saying that Russia takes the “strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve” woodlands, according to a Kremlin press release.

The US president made his comments when asked about the role that other countries – including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia – have played in talks so far.

“The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader – not showing up, come on,” Mr Biden said, adding that Xi Jinping’s absence was a “big mistake”.

He said the same about Mr Putin, saying that Russia’s wilderness was burning and their president “stays mum” about the issue.

Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave no reason why the Russian leader would not attend when they announced the decision in October, although he said climate change was an “important” priority for Russia.

Speaking at the summit on Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera, who is also the Chair of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC),  urged rich countries to meet their financial and emissions cuts commitments, including $100 billion (about K81 trillion) commitment to poor nations six years ago.

The Malawi leader said it is only when concrete action and progress are seen that people in various countries, including Malawi, can begin to believe in this annual United Nations Climate Change gathering.

Said Chakwera: “When the nations we lead ask what exactly is the point of this conference, what they are really asking is this: What is the point of having you at the CoP on our behalf?”

He said the leaders gathered in Glasgow must answer the people with binding commitments to cut emissions to zero, urgent disbursement of committed funds and elimination of toxic debts that strangle poor nations’ ability to fight climate change.



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