A number of key world leaders were notably absent from President Joe Biden’s Friday morning climate forum.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, representing the two countries the scientific community believes are the linchpins in effectively combating climate change, did not participate in the reconvening of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. Both leaders took part in the first forum, held by the White House in spring 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and other European heads of state also did not participate, though the continent was represented by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The remaining participants, per White House officials, included President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry spoke on behalf of the United States.
Biden used his opening remarks on Friday to frame the climate debate as an “inflection point” for the global community, mirroring language he rolled out to frame the congressional debate over his social safety net package the day prior.
“There’s a real consensus, a real consensus that while the climate crisis poses an existential threat, there is a silver lining the climate crisis also presents real and incredible economic opportunities to create jobs, lift up the standard of living for people around the world,” he said. “We know there’s still a lot of work to do, and if anything, our job, in my view, is growing more urgent.”
The White House did not answer questions by press time on why certain world leaders did not participate in Friday’s event.