US President Joe Biden to skip Cop28 UN climate talks in Dubai

27 November 2023, 15:34

President Joe Biden
Biden Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

The White House offered no reasons but Mr Biden has been deeply engaged in both the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

US President Joe Biden plans to skip the annual climate talks in Dubai this week, an event that is expected to draw heads of state and diplomats from roughly 200 nations and the Vatican.

He has attended twice before.

The White House said it was sending a climate team, including special envoy John Kerry, climate adviser Ali Zaidi and clean energy adviser John Podesta.

“Although we don’t have any travel updates to share for the president at this time, the administration looks forward to a robust and productive Cop28,” said White House spokesman Angelo Fernandez Hernandez, adding that Mr Biden’s team would continue to build on the administration’s actions “to tackle the climate crisis”.

Cars pass a billboard advertising Cop28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Cars pass a billboard advertising Cop28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

Mr Biden had also pledged to visit Africa before the end of the year, but that trip does not appear to be happening, either.

The White House offered no reasons but the president has been deeply engaged in both the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict, as well as domestic battles with Congress over government funding.

The two-week Cop28 conference begins on Thursday and is convened annually by the United Nations.

Cop stands for Conference of the Parties – the nations that agreed to a climate change framework drafted by the UN in 1992.

It has been held 28 times, so this year it is called Cop28.

Countries that signed the agreement promise to work to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions and prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.

Their goal is to move the globe off fossil fuels that are pushing up Earth’s temperatures.

This year the United Arab Emirates, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, is hosting the climate talks.

The conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East could make co-operation between the nations even more difficult.

Sultan al-Jaber was appointed as the president-designate, a decision roundly criticised by climate activists because he serves as the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which is seeking to boost its production of carbon-emitting crude oil and natural gas.

Mr Biden has called climate change the “ultimate threat to humanity”.

Earlier this month, he released an assessment on the state of climate change in America and said the issue was impacting all regions in the US.

“Not just some, all,” Mr Biden said.

“Anyone who wilfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future,” he said.

Under his tenure, the US passed the Inflation Reduction Act, America’s most significant response to climate change, and pushed towards more clean energy manufacturing.

The Act aims to spur clean energy on a scale that will bend the arc of US greenhouse gas emissions.

By Press Association

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