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What Biden said about U.S. climate agenda as he wraps up at Glasgow summit


President Biden is wrapping up his time in Glasgow, where he's been urging world leaders to do more on climate change. Yet in the U.S., the legislative package with his administration's climate measures has stalled. Democrats are divided over its scope. The president says he knows that activists are frustrated.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: There's a reason for people to be worried. I'm worried. I'm worried if we don't continue to move forward and make the kind of progress we're now making that it's going to - I mean, we've thrown to jeopardy the prospect that we're going to be able to keep the temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

CORNISH: NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez was watching Biden's press conference and joins us now.

Welcome back, Franco.


CORNISH: The president said he was pleased with how his talks went with world leaders. He talked about there being real progress. How did he address what's happening in Washington with his legislative priorities?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, well, he started out by saying that he couldn't think of any two days of meetings where more had been accomplished. But for the U.S. to meet those climate goals, of course, Biden needs support back home. Most of Biden's push to curb climate change is in these two bills before Congress - the infrastructure bill and another package that includes big incentives on climate. Democrats, of course, they have a very narrow majority to get these through. And yesterday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he still thinks it's too expensive. But at the press conference today, Biden said he's confident that Manchin will come around.


BIDEN: He will vote for this if we have in this proposal what he has anticipated, and that is looking at the fine print and the detail of what comes out of the House in terms of the actual legislative initiatives. I believe that Joe will be there.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, so this is going to be the focus now for Biden when he returns - to get his party on the same page. And he's been trying to do this for weeks and weeks now, so that's just going to continue.

CORNISH: Biden met with many world leaders over the course of his trip abroad and at the G-20 in Rome and the climate summit in Glasgow. He did not meet - or was not seen to be meeting - with China's Xi Jinping. Can you tell us more?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, Biden went right after President Xi for not showing up. He called it a big mistake. He said the climate is the most important thing that's gotten the world's attention. And he said China just walked away.


BIDEN: The fact that China is trying to assert, understandably, a new role in the world as a world leader - not showing up? - come on.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, he added that the world is watching. China is one of the world's biggest polluters. And unless China acts, it's really hard to see how world leaders can accomplish their goals. The reality is relations between the two countries, though, are very poor right now. And Biden's a bit old-school. He likes to make progress in face-to-face meetings. I will say the two leaders are, though, eventually going to have a virtual meeting. And this is likely going to be an area where they try to find some common ground.

CORNISH: In the meantime, I understand that President Biden made some comments about the very tight race in Virginia - right? - the election for governor. People are looking that as a kind of bellwether or reaction to his presidency. What did Biden have to say about it?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, he said that Democrat Terry McAuliffe was going to win. And he was very sure of it, despite polls that show McAuliffe is in a very tight race against Republican Glenn Youngkin. Biden himself is down in the polls. And, of course, he has been struggling to get his agenda over the finish line. But he said he didn't think his own political fortunes would affect McAuliffe one way or the other.

CORNISH: That's NPR's White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

Thanks so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.