Kremlin says Putin will not travel to Scotland for COP26 climate talks

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The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russian President Putin will not travel to the United Nations climate summit that starts in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31 but will take part remotely while other representatives attend in person, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: A lack of a physical appearance from the leader of the fourth largest carbon dioxide-emitting country in the world would be a blow to the crucial climate talks.

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  • The talks, called COP26, have been considered a make-or-break moment for securing necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts to avoid potentially catastrophic levels of climate change during the next several decades.

  • Putin's withdrawal comes after another prominent bow out from Pope Francis.

What they're saying: Speaking during an energy conference last week, Putin signaled that he was reluctant to attend in person because of the risk of spreading coronavirus, according to the New York Times.

  • Putin said earlier this month Russia was ready for dialogue to seek ways to tackle climate change and that it would strive to be carbon neutral no later than 2060.

The big picture: It's also unclear if Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a physical appearance, as he hasn't traveled internationally for more than 600 days — the longest streak of any G20 leader.

Go deeper: Putin supports week at home for workers amid rising COVID-19 deaths

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