MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir V. Putin will not attend a United Nations climate summit later this month, seen as key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but he could deliver a speech by liaison video, the Kremlin announced on Wednesday.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov did not explain the Glasgow summit decision but stressed that climate change remains a priority for Russia. “The issues which will be discussed in Glasgow at this time constitute one of the priorities of our foreign policy,” said Mr Peskov.
Mr Putin, speaking at an energy conference in Moscow last week, said he was reluctant to attend because of the risk of the coronavirus spreading. He said his entourage would include around 100 people and the trip would be risky. Mr Putin, who was vaccinated, had to isolate himself in September after being exposed to the virus.
Russia is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but has been seen as lagging behind in policies to reduce pollution. It is also a major exporter of oil, coal and natural gas, the fossil fuels which are the main culprits of climate change. Mr Putin suggested that some policies designed to slow climate change are actually aimed at hurting Russia’s energy exports.
The country has participated in past efforts to control emissions, most recently committing in 2015 to limit pollution from global warming to levels lower than those it emitted in 1990. But due to industrial collapse which followed the end of the Soviet Union, Russia was already emitting less in 2015 than in 1990. The commitment did little to reduce global greenhouse gas pollution.
Last week, Mr Putin announced a new plan for Russia to become carbon neutral by 2060. The plan suggests that Russia should receive more credit for the carbon absorbed by the country’s vast forests in Siberia and that this uptake can be increased through new forest management practices, such as fighting forest fires more aggressively.
Chinese officials have not confirmed whether Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, will attend the event. But if he did appear, it would likely be from a distance: Mr Xi has not left the country publicly since Covid-19 spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan in January 2020.
Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate negotiator, told Reuters on Tuesday that global climate officials should await confirmation from China’s Foreign Ministry, “and it is only after making an announcement that we will let you know. say “.
The Chinese government has also publicly supported the COP26 effort and promoted some of its own climate goals, including plans to reduce emissions and stop building new coal-fired projects abroad. In September, Han Zheng, a Chinese vice premier, held a virtual meeting with Alok Sharma, the British minister who is the president-designate of COP26, and said the summit “will send a strong political signal”, according to one. state report. media.