Oct 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden criticizes Russia and China for not joining climate commitments

Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the end of the G20 of World Leaders Summit on October 31
President Biden addresses reporters at the end of the G20 summit on Oct. 31. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden criticized Russia and China on Sunday for their failure to make new climate commitments alongside other members of the Group of 20.

Why it matters: G20 leaders announced new targets for climate commitments on the final day of meetings in Rome before they head to Glasgow, Scotland, for a global climate conference.

  • One such agreement, which didn't go as far as the U.S. had hoped, was a target of reaching carbon neutrality "by or around midcentury," and agreeing to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad. No target was established for phasing out coal domestically.

The big picture: UN Secretary-General António Guterres professed disappointment with the final statement, tweeting, "While I welcome the #G20's recommitment to global solutions, I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled — but at least they are not buried."

  • Leaders from two powerful members of the G20, Russia and China, did not attend the summit, purportedly due to the ongoing pandemic, per CNN.

What he's saying: Responding to a question citing NGOs that believed the summit's climate commitments were "underwhelming," Biden pointed to the absence of Russia and China.

  • "The disappointment relates to the fact that" Russia and China, "basically didn't show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change," Biden said.
  • "I found it disappointing myself. But what we did do, we passed a number of things here to end the subsidization of coal, we made commitments here from across the board, all of us, in terms of what we're going to bring to" Cop26.
  • "I think you're gonna see we've made significant progress, 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's not doing."
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