Biden avoids confronting China over climate in Earth Day speech with world leaders


President Biden urged world leaders to act quickly and together to confront the consequences of Earth’s changing climate, but notably did not specifically address heavy polluters like China.

Tensions have remained high between the U.S. and the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter over the past couple of months. 

Speaking at an economic forum on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more equitable management of global affairs and criticized the “unilateralism of individual countries” in an apparent swipe at the U.S. 

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However, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry visited China just days before and renewed joint efforts to tackle the issue during talks in Shanghai. 

Xi — a last-minute addition — spoke first among the global figures in attendance on the first day of the international Leaders Summit on Climate, though he made no reference to previous disputes with the U.S. and said China would work with America in cutting emissions.

“To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to boost the environment is to boost productivity. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Biden said that working to preserve the planet is not only necessary but is also about “providing a better future for all of us.” 

President Joe Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks to the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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