Joe Biden to miss COP28 climate summit: U.S. official

A U.S. official confirmed that Mr. Biden was not planning to attend COP28 this week or during a second window close to the end of the talks on December 12

November 27, 2023 11:21 am | Updated 11:51 am IST - Washington

President Joe Biden will miss the latest U.N. climate summit in Dubai. File

President Joe Biden will miss the latest U.N. climate summit in Dubai. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

President Joe Biden will miss the latest U.N. climate summit in Dubai, after two years of attending the talks in hopes of highlighting U.S. leadership, a U.S. official said Sunday.

Some 70,000 people including national leaders and Pope Francis are expected at COP28 as it opens Thursday, in what could be the largest United Nations climate summit ever.

Schedules released by the White House for Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris showed neither heading to Dubai this week.

Mr. Biden's engagements include a trip to Colorado to highlight U.S. investment in wind energy, a meeting with the President of Angola and the lighting of the national Christmas tree.

A U.S. official confirmed that Mr. Biden was not planning to attend COP28 this week or during a second window close to the end of the talks on December 12.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration was still discussing whether to send a top-level official to Dubai.

John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy and former secretary of state and senator, will be leading day-to-day negotiations for the United States.

The official did not give a reason for Mr. Biden's decision. But Mr. Biden has been focused for more than a month on the war between Israel and Hamas and is also looking to highlight his domestic agenda with less than a year to the U.S. presidential election.

Until Mr. Biden, it was not customary for the U.S. president to attend each COP summit.

Mr. Biden in 2021 traveled to Glasgow to vow that the United States would again take a global leadership role on climate after his predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord.

Mr. Trump, who is seeking the White House again, is a climate skeptic who says that action is too costly to the United States.

Mr. Biden again made a brief trip last year to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Mr. Biden has put a high priority on climate domestically, with the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, his signature legislative achievement, channeling billions of dollars to the green economy including through incentives for electric cars.

Ahead of COP28, Kerry held extended talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, with the two negotiators promising that their countries, the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters, would work together for progress in Dubai.

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