Biden says Russia, China ‘didn’t show up’ on climate change commitments

ROME – US President Joe Biden blamed Russia and China on Sunday for any disappointment with G20 leaders’ commitment to tackling climate change.

“In terms of disappointment, the disappointment relates to the fact that … not only Russia, but China basically made no commitments to deal with climate change,” Biden said at his press conference at the end of the two -day summits of heads of state and government Rome.

“And there’s a reason people should be disappointed with it,” added Biden. “I found it disappointing myself.”

The heads of state and government of the G20 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, have jointly committed themselves to stronger measures than ever before to limit global warming. However, due to opposition from a small group of countries, including Russia and China, they failed to reach an agreement on phasing out coal.

Biden acknowledged the progress, but so did Saudi Arabia among the countries he argued that they are still not doing enough.

“We passed a number of things here to end coal subsidies,” Biden said. “We have made a full commitment here, all of us, to what we are going to bring to the G26.” He was in fact referring to the COP26 climate change conference in Scotland that started on Sunday and was attended by many Heads of State and Government traveled directly from Rome.

“More needs to be done,” said Biden, continuing his reef on climate change. “But we must continue to focus on what China does not do, what Russia does not do and what Saudi Arabia does not do.”

The final G20 communiqué by the heads of state and government left plenty of room for interpretation as to who should bear the burden. After the meeting ended, Chinese state media reported that Xi had told his counterparts that richer countries were responsible for reducing emissions faster.

Beijing frustrated western governments last week by releasing new climate targets that did not change the country’s position significantly from previously announced targets.

Russian President Putin, who attended the G20 summit via video conference, insisted that his country keep all of its promises.

“Russia, like other countries, is experiencing the negative effects of global warming for the following reasons: We are facing desertification and soil erosion, and we are particularly concerned about the thawing of permafrost which is affecting a significant part of Russian territory”, Putin said according to a Kremlin transcript of his speech.

“Of course, our country is actively participating in international climate protection and stabilization efforts and is taking the lead,” he added. “We conscientiously adhere to all of our obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”

Russia has relatively few commitments under international climate agreements as its economy shrank after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Karl Mathiesen contributed to the reporting.

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