On Monday at COP26, President Biden had harsh words for a former US leader. On Tuesday, before heading back to the US, he reserved his criticism for two current world leaders, slamming them for not making an appearance at the United Nations climate summit in Scotland. "Not showing up, come on!" Biden said of China's Xi Jinping, calling that president's move a "big mistake," considering Xi wants to become a bigger player on the world stage, per Al Jazeera. On Russia's Vladimir Putin, Biden added, "His tundra is burning—literally, the tundra is burning. He has serious, serious climate problems, and he is mum on [his] willingness to do anything."
And then, on both of his foreign counterparts: "It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?" The BBC notes that both China and Russia did send delegations to the summit, but as China is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide (Russia comes in after the US, the EU, and India), Biden had hoped the leaders from those two countries would join the 120 others from around the planet in helping to figure out what to do about global warming and related environmental issues, such as deforestation and methane emissions. Politico reports that the US president similarly blasted Saudi Arabia for not playing a more active role.
There's been no word from China on Xi's absence. On Monday, a day before Biden publicly aired his criticisms, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov weighed in. "Russia as a country is making enormous efforts and will continue to do so ... but this is a process that requires adequate measures on the part of all states," Peskov said, per Al Jazeera. Also before Biden's speech, Putin himself had reacted to a COP26 forest management gathering, noting in a release that his country takes "the strongest and most vigorous measures to conserve" its woodlands and supports the world's overall efforts "to fulfill the objectives of reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere set out in the Paris Agreement." (Read more UN climate summit stories.)