Vice-president says he was personally responsible for climate action and Obama “will regret that you failed”
Vice-president Joe Biden has reportedly been mocked in China after apologising to world leaders that US president Barack Obama had not moved more quickly to reverse climate change.
Biden declared “Obama will regret that you failed” while addressing the United Nations’ climate summit in December, according to a report by the Washington Post on Friday.
Biden then “bade a polite but firm farewell” to the gathered leaders.
The remarks were reportedly mocked by the Chinese, who have said climate change is the biggest threat facing the world.
“The translation – ‘Sorry! You know me. You’re stupid. He’s so powerful’ – has been circulating widely in China,” the Post quoted the Beijing-based journalist Javier C. Hernández as saying.
A senior US official told the newspaper that Biden’s remarks were not meant to be offensive.
“No, no,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “No.”
US vice-president Joe Biden at the White House earlier this month. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
However, the official did not dispute a December report by the C40 group, which deals with sustainable growth, that Biden’s remarks were “largely regarded as provocative and lacking in language of concern or kindness”.
The US official added: “Biden was referring to the fact that the action is needed and will be,” the Post reported.
Biden was speaking during a speech that also attracted attention because he said the US needed to do more to combat climate change.
He also vowed Obama would ratify the Paris climate agreement by the end of this year, a promise that has long been expected to take place in early 2020.
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The vice-president declared: “The president would keep this administration in office for many more years if I could get him to take this strong action, in fact, I would ask him to take this strong action now. And by the way, it’s not too late.”
Biden also sent signals that he could support limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases.
On Wednesday, the US president, Donald Trump, also said he did not believe there was scientific consensus that climate change was real.
Before becoming US president, Trump said climate change was not caused by humans.
Biden has hosted multiple meetings to discuss climate change with Trump and the other leaders in the G7 group of developed countries, as well as the G20.