MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday rejected US President Joe 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 meet in person, “President Putin will have a great opportunity to tell President Biden what we are doing on the climate”.
Peskov said last month that Putin would not attend COP26. He gave no reason, though Putin has rarely travelled outside Russia since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, except for a summit with Biden in Geneva in June.
Putin said last month that Russia — the fourth-highest carbon emitter — was aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060.
That followed an earlier pledge to cut carbon emissions to below the level of the European Union by 2050.
For years Putin was notorious for his skepticism about man-made global warming and saying Russia stands to benefit from it.
But his approach has changed as Russia — one of the world’s biggest producers of oil and gas — sees the devastating effects of climate change.
The country has set numerous heat records in recent years, and the rising temperatures have contributed to severe floods and forest fires that have affected Siberia with increasing regularity.
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