COP26: Beijing and Moscow respond to Washington’s criticism of climate change

US President Joe Biden during a press conference at COP26 on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

China and Russia responded on Wednesday to Joe Biden’s criticisms of their leaders’ absence at COP26 and said they were acting against global warming.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Chinese diplomacy spokesman Wang Wenbin, denouncing the “hollow words” of the US president.

Mr. Wang underlined his country’s “concrete” commitments against global warming. China, the world’s largest polluter, is the country that invests the most in clean energy.

Moscow also rejected the criticisms made the day before by Mr Biden: “We do not agree”, declared the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov. Russia’s actions against global warming “are consistent, thoughtful and serious,” he added.

“I think it was a big mistake for China not to come” and Xi Jinping “lost an opportunity to influence people around the world,” the US president said at a conference on Tuesday. press release at the end of his own visit to COP26.

The Glasgow climate conference, considered capital, is scheduled until November 12.

“It’s a huge subject and they (the Chinese) have turned their backs. How can you do that and claim any leadership?” Commented Joe Biden.

Xi Jinping contented himself with a written message, posted on the conference website, no intervention by videoconference or video message being planned for the heads of state and government who did not make the trip.

“He has very, very serious weather problems and he’s not showing himself to be willing to do anything,” Biden said.

“It is the same for Vladimir Poutine”, he continued, the Russian president not having attended this meeting either.

– “Practical problems” –

With global warming in the sights limited to + 1.5 ° C, countries are under pressure to do more against climate change.

China and its Russian neighbor are among the most absent from a flagship agreement reached Tuesday by a hundred countries to contain methane.

Developing countries including China face “practical problems” to achieve these “ambitious goals”, argued Wednesday Mr. Wang, stressing in particular a “lack of appropriate technologies”.

Representing more than 40% of global emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas, the signatory countries of the agreement have pledged to reduce emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.

(lr) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at COP26 on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland (POOL / Steve Reigate)

(lr) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at COP26 on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland (POOL / Steve Reigate)

“Methane is one of the gases that we can reduce the fastest. In doing so, it will immediately slow down climate change,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, stressing that this gas was responsible for ‘”about 30%” of global warming since the industrial revolution.

It is “a commitment that changes the game,” added Joe Biden.

Less known than CO2, methane (CH4) is the second greenhouse gas linked to human activity, mainly from livestock, fossil fuels and waste. Above all, if it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time, its warming effect is much greater than that of carbon dioxide, up to more than 80 times.

– “Cautiously optimistic” –

Despite this announcement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country is hosting COP26, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the chances of success of this meeting, stressing that there was “still a very long way to go” .

Environmental activists brandish luminous letters, "End the climate betrayal", during the COP26, on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow (AFP / ANDY BUCHANAN)

Environmental activists hold up luminous letters, “End climate betrayal”, during COP26 on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow (AFP / ANDY BUCHANAN)

On the difficult menu of discussions are the question of financial aid, promised but still unfinished, to poor countries already affected by climate change and that of accelerated decarbonization of the economy.

Nearly one hundred countries, home to 85% of the world’s forests, also pledged on Tuesday to stop deforestation to protect the lungs of the planet which, along with the oceans, are essential in the fight against climate change because they absorb a large part of the CO2 released. in the air.

The initiative will benefit from public and private funding of $ 19.2 billion (€ 16.5 billion) over several years.

Map of the Amazon, its indigenous territories, its protected natural areas, and essential facts about this vast region shared by nine South American countries (AFP /)

Map of the Amazon, its indigenous territories, its protected natural areas, and essential facts about this vast region shared by nine South American countries (AFP /)

For NGOs like Greenpeace, the highlighted 2030 target remains far too distant and gives the green light to “another decade of deforestation”.

Global Witness has expressed fears that “the failures of previous engagements” will be repeated due to insufficient funding and uncertain follow-up to the promise given.

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