US President Joe Biden is not likely to attend the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) scheduled to take place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12. The conference will gather leaders and diplomats from around 200 nations to discuss future strategies for addressing climate change.
While President Biden had participated in the UN-sponsored meeting on two previous occasions, the White House announced that a climate team, comprising Special Envoy John Kerry, climate advisor Ali Zaidi, and clean energy advisor John Podesta, will represent the administration in Dubai.
White House spokesman Angelo Fernandez Hernandez stated, "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." He emphasized the team's commitment to building on the administration's actions to address the climate crisis.
President Biden's scheduled year-end visit to Africa also appears unlikely, with the White House providing no specific reasons. However, it's noted that Biden has been heavily involved in addressing the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, and domestic challenges with Congress over government funding.
The COP28 conference, organized annually by the United Nations, aims to facilitate international collaboration on climate issues. The participating countries have pledged to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and prevent harmful human interference with the climate system. The overarching goal is to eliminate fossil fuels from the Earth between 2030 and 2050 to counteract rising temperatures and the associated impacts on the environment.
This year's conference in Dubai, hosted by the UAE, the fifth-largest oil producer globally, comes against the backdrop of conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This geopolitical context may pose challenges to cooperation among nations.
The Arab nations, particularly those in OPEC, have faced criticism from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for insufficient investments in climate change technologies to reduce emissions related to oil and gas production. The IEA warns that failure to invest could result in a significant revenue loss, estimating $1.7 trillion if green technologies replace fossil fuels.
Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, the Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the UAE, has been designated as the president of COP28, a decision criticized by climate activists due to his role as the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., which aims to increase production of carbon-emitting crude oil and natural gas.
President Biden has previously labeled climate change as the "ultimate threat to humanity" and has taken steps domestically, such as passing the Inflation Reduction Act, to address the issue. This stands in contrast to his predecessor, Donald Trump, who expressed skepticism about climate change theories and rebuffed countries advocating for climate action.
(With agency inputs)