Biden to Skip UN Climate Summit for the First Time

Almost 200 other leaders will gather in Dubai
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2023 1:15 PM CST
Biden Is Skipping Leaders' Climate Change Summit
President Joe Biden returns a salute as he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023.   (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

President Biden will be skipping the world leaders' summit at the annual United Nations climate change conference for the first time in his presidency. Biden has called climate change the "ultimate threat" to humanity and it's not clear why the president won't be at the summit, though aides have suggested the Israel-Hamas war has consumed much of his energy, the New York Times reports. The White House has said American delegates to the COP28 conference will include Special Envoy John Kerry and his team. Vice President Kamala Harris will also be skipping the summit, according to the official White House schedule.

The conference begins Thursday, when Biden is scheduled to meet the president of Angola and take part in the White House Christmas tree lighting, the Washington Post reports. The only other event on his schedule for the weekend is the Kennedy Center Honors. Some 70,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference in Dubai, including Pope Francis as well as almost 200 world leaders, but China's Xi Jinping is not expected to attend, meaning the leaders of the two countries that produce the most emissions will be absent.

In a statement Sunday, the White House said Biden "has led and delivered on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, both at home and abroad." It said the White House "looks forward to a robust and productive COP28 where Special Envoy John Kerry, National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi, and Senior Advisor John Podesta, among others, will continue to build on the Administration's historic actions to tackle the climate crisis." It's still possible that Biden could travel to the United Arab Emirates for the second week of the summit, but most world leaders will have left by then, the Post reports. (More UN climate summit stories.)

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