President Joe Biden has said he is disappointed that China and Russia have not yet come up with new commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as the US grapples with a major climate summit that his administration says are strong new are goals.
These include a set of new US climate commitments that build on previous global agreements; Unveils plans for the $3 billion Presidential Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience to tackle climate awareness, funding and adaptation efforts; and a set of domestically focused legislation that aims to shore up US infrastructure, while reducing greenhouse gas pollution by more than a gigatonne in 2030. That legislation has occupied the US Congress for months, with members of the legislative body fiddling around throughout – but ultimately, failing to bring the matter to a vote before Biden left for the summit last week.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that cause global warming, announced last Thursday that it did not have any significant new targets for reducing climate-changing emissions. Nor is the nation sending its head of state to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. China’s government announced on Monday that President Xi Jinping would only address the summit in the form of a written statement.
Biden said late Sunday that he found it “disappointing” that China and Russia had not made any new climate commitments.
“The disappointment is related to the fact that Russia and — and — and not just Russia, but China, basically didn’t show up in terms of any commitment to tackle climate change,” Biden said. “And there’s a reason why people should be disappointed in it. I found it frustrating myself.”
This year’s summit is based on a legally binding agreement that 196 parties, including the US, Russia and China, signed in Paris in 2015. The international treaty commits countries to cut emissions that aim to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 °C.
The US has previously stumbled on its climate commitments, with former President Donald Trump announcing in 2017 that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement. It took effect in November 2020, but Biden reneged on the deal on his first day in office. And critics note that some of his administration’s climate commitments are not as big as those promised by other developed countries.
“We go to (the summit) with about 65% of the world economy with a 1.5 degree commitment, still with some significant outliers, one of those important outliers is China, which is not represented at the leader level in the COP. 26,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Monday. “And what we believe is an obligation to move toward greater ambition as we move forward.”
Administration officials have repeatedly described China as America’s biggest adversary and said relations between the two powers are challenging. But, Sullivan said, it should have no bearing on a globally important issue.
“They are fully capable of fulfilling their responsibilities,” he said. “It is up to them to do so. And nothing about the nature of the relationship between the US and China, structurally or otherwise, hinders or hinders them from doing their part.”
The summit continues till Tuesday.