China hit back Wednesday against criticism by US President Joe Biden, who had accused Beijing of not showing leadership after President Xi Jinping skipped the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.
Biden on Tuesday accused China and Russia of failing to show leadership on climate change in blistering criticism of their leaders for not attending the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
Speaking at the UN summit aimed at forging an ambitious new climate agreement, Biden called his own presence and promises proof that “America is back” after the go-it-alone approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.
Xi – who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change – has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined world leaders for COP26.
Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded Wednesday.
“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”
He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.
Kremlin rejects Biden criticism
Meanwhile, Kremlin on Wednesday also rejected Biden’s criticism of President Vladimir Putin for not showing up at the COP26 summit, saying Moscow is serious about climate change.
“We disagree,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about Biden’s accusation that China and Russia were failing to show leadership on climate change.
“We are certainly not minimising the importance of the event in Glasgow, but Russia’s actions are consistent and thoughtful and serious,” he said.
Biden on Tuesday lashed out at Putin for not attending the conference, saying: “His tundra is burning – literally, the tundra is burning. He has serious, serious climate problems, and he is mum on willingness to do anything.”
Peskov said Moscow was well aware of the effects of climate change and was in fact facing “more serious challenges” than other countries.
“The tundra really is on fire. But let’s not forget that forests are burning in California, forests are burning in Turkey, and in other countries,” he said.
Peskov said Russia had taken a “very responsible” position on climate change with long-term plans to reduce emissions and diversify energy sources.
He said Biden may not have been aware of these plans when he spoke and that when the two leaders next met in person, “President Putin will have a great opportunity to tell President Biden what we are doing on the climate”.