President Biden crammed in a little shut-eye before his international address Monday — appearing to fall asleep during opening remarks at the COP26 climate change conference in Scotland.
At one point, Biden closed his eyes for 22 seconds before an aide approached and roused him.
Before that, he had closed his eyes for about seven seconds, opening them and then nodding back off.
Biden appeared to doze off while listening to Eddie Ndopu, a disability rights activist, who began losing the president as he warned that global warming threatened “our ability to grow food and even to survive.”
Biden’s eyelids drooped for the longer spell as Ndopu, who is also black and gay, said, “I call on you to commit to concrete actions to stop the destruction of this magnificent planet.”
“This conference is one of the most important meetings in history,” Ndopu continued as Biden’s eyes remained closed.
“You have the chance to make decisions and reach agreements which will affect the lives of generations to come. You are in a position of extraordinary power. You can change forever the trajectory we are on. You can make a world that is once again full of hope, not fear.”
Biden’s aide snapped him back to attention just in time to applaud. The president proceeded to rub the sleep from his eyes.
“Biden appears to fall asleep during COP26 opening speeches, Washington Post reporter Zach Brown wrote in a viral tweet with a video clip.
“It appears that perhaps he was dozing,” veteran NBC News journalist Kelly O’Donnell said on MSNBC shortly after the incident.
“These can be embarrassing situations,” she said. “You have the contrast of leaders including President Biden calling for the urgency of these issues, of addressing climate, and a moment like that in a session can be a political obstacle.”
Biden is the oldest-ever US president and turns 79 this month.
Later on Monday, Biden delivered a nearly 12-minute speech at the Glasgow event urging the world’s countries to reduce use of fossil fuels. But he didn’t mention the top polluter, China.
“Those of us who are responsible for much of the deforestation and all the problems we have so far have an overwhelming obligations [sic] of the nations who in fact are not there, have not done it.,” Biden said.