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Biden says Russia, China "basically didn't show up" with climate commitments

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Biden says it's "disappointing" Russia and China "basically didn't show up" with commitments 26:02

President Biden on Sunday placed blame on Russia and China for a lack of momentum by the world's most powerful nations in the fight to combat climate change as he marked the end of the Group of 20 conference in Rome ahead of a crucial summit on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland.

"Not only Russia, but China, basically didn't show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change," the president told reporters when asked about criticisms of the G20's progress in addressing climate change ahead of the next conference."There's a reason why people should be disappointed in that. I found it disappointing myself."

As they wrapped up the two-day summit that laid the groundwork for the U.N. climate conference, the leaders of the world's largest economies made a vague commitment to seek carbon neutrality "by or around mid-century."

According to the final meeting communique, the G20 members also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad but set no target for phasing out coal domestically — a clear nod to China, India and other coal-dependent countries. 

Biden Italy G20 Summit
President Joe Biden walks off after speaking at a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 leaders summit, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Rome. Evan Vucci / AP

"The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I think you're going to see we made significant progress and more has to be done," the president said. "It's going to requires us to continue to focus on what China's not going, what Russia's not doing, and what Saudi Arabia is not doing."

Mr. Biden said the summit demonstrated the "power of America showing up" and working with allies to make progress on key issues. He highlighted discussions he had with world leaders across the summit, including talks with the leaders of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, during which they reiterated their commitment to diplomacy in preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.

The president predicted the U.S. will reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and touted his domestic policy agenda as bolstering efforts to do so. Mr. Biden's plans include at least $555 billion in climate and clean energy investments.

Mr. Biden at first expressed confidence that Congress will send to his desk both a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and $1.75 trillion social policy and climate change package, but then conceded "we'll see."

"Maybe it won't work, but I believe we'll see by the end of next week at home that it's passed," he said of his domestic policy plans.

The president also addressed supply chain bottlenecks, which he said have been the result of "enormous changes" brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S., he said, is at an "inflection point," and how the nation recovers "depends upon the judgments we make."

"The economy is changing and the United States has to stay ahead of the curve," Mr. Biden said, adding that need drove him to introduce the physical infrastructure and social spending plan.

Before the start of the G20 summit, Mr. Biden met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, during which the two had a 75-minute conversation. The president praised Pope Francis to reporters at the conclusion of the summit, calling him a "man of great empathy" who provided "great solace" following the death of Mr. Biden's son, Beau Biden, in 2015.

Mr. Biden said Pope Francis met with and spoke to his family members about Beau Biden during a stop in Philadelphia during his trip to the United States several years ago and said the meeting had a "cathartic impact" on his family.

Mr. Biden is heading to the climate conference in Scotland energized by the new legislative framework that, if enacted, would be the largest action ever taken by the U.S. to address climate change.

The $555 billion plan for climate spending is the centerpiece of a sweeping domestic policy package Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats presented Thursday, hours before the president traveled to Europe for the G20 meeting.

Mr. Biden called the plan "the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that ever happened, beyond any other advanced nation in the world."

While far from certain to pass in a closely divided Congress, the new framework reassured nervous Democrats and environmental leaders that a president who has made climate action a key focus of his administration will not arrive in Glasgow empty-handed.

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