U.S. President Joe Biden criticized both China and Russia’s leaders, on Tuesday, for not showing up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
“I think – presumptuous of me to talk for another leader – but the fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader, not showing up? C’mon,” Biden said at a press conference.
“The single most important thing that’s gotten the attention of the world is climate. … It just is a gigantic issue. They’ve walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership now? Same with Russia.”
Biden was even more scathing about Russian President Vladimir Putin, who does travel and met the US president in Geneva in June.
“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.
In the same vein, Biden rebuked Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling his absence “a big mistake.” “The rest of the world looked at China and said ‘what value are they providing?’,” he added.
Notably, Jinping, who leads the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions responsible for climate change, has not traveled outside of China since the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
On the other hand, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the Chinese President’s absence from the COP26 leaders’ summit, affirming that it “doesn’t mean the Chinese are not engaging” with the fight against climate change.
Speaking at the UN summit, the American President called his own presence and promises proof that “America is back” after the go-it-alone approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.