US President Joe Biden has criticized the leaders of China and Russia for not attending the COP26 climate summit.

Biden during a speech on Tuesday said that climate was “a gigantic issue” and China “walked away” – adding it was the “same thing with Russia and Putin”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping did not show up for the summit being held in Glasgow.

Both countries have sent their delegations to attend the talks, which are scheduled over the next two weeks until 14 November.

China has the highest rates of carbon emissions in the world, followed by the United States. EU and India stand at the third and fourth-ranking while Russia is the fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

Over 120 leaders are attending the conference in Scotland’s largest city.

Countries have announced major deals, such as a global pledge to cut down methane levels by 2030 and ending and reversing deforestation during the same period.

China and Russia are also signatories of the pledge regarding the end of deforestation. During the COP26 summit on Tuesday, Putin addressed a meeting on forest management virtually before Biden’s speech saying that according to a Kremlin press release Russia takes the “strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve” woodlands.

Biden criticized the absence of Russian and Chinese leaders while answering a question pertaining to the efforts made by other countries including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

He said, “The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader – not showing up, come on”. He added that that Xi Jinping’s absence was a “big mistake”.

He further said that Russia’s wilderness was burning and their president “stays mum” on the issue.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not provide a reason for the Russian leader’s absence but he added that climate change was an “important” priority for Russia.

Officials warned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that China’s President Xi Jinping would likely not attend the summit.

In September Xi announced that China will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, with a plan to hit peak emissions before 2030.

Putin during an international energy forum speech on 13 October, said that Russia would also work on reaching carbon neutrality “no later than 2060”.

Net-zero, or becoming carbon neutral, refers to not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


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