President Joe Biden is skipping the Cop28 climate summit – a decision that could hurt his reputation among young voters going into the 2024 election.
Biden’s absence from the two-week conference, being held this year in the United Arab Emirates, was confirmed by an anonymous White House official.
No reason was offered for his lack of attendance but senior Biden administration officials have hinted that the ongoing Israel-Hamas war is taking up the president’s time and energy.
“They’ve got the war in the Middle East and a war in Ukraine, a bunch of things going on,” John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate change, previously told reporters when asked about Biden’s Cop28 plans.
Vice President Kamala Harris is not expected to attend Cop28 either. However, several top US officials including Kerry, national climate advisor Ali Zaidi, and senior advisor John Podestawill represent US interests in the global effort to tackle the climate crisis.
According to Biden’s schedule, released by the White House, his diary is empty this Friday and Saturday – the same days as the Cop28 leaders’ summit.
The president attended the last two annual UN climate summits – in Glasgow and Egypt. During his first appearance, he apologised for the US’s withdrawal from a global climate agreement under his predecessor Donald Trump.
Earlier this month, Biden warned that the climate crisis is costing the US $178bn a year and slammed the extreme arm of the Republican party who are seeking to sow doubt in its existence.
“Anyone who denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future. The impacts we’re seeing are only gonna get worse, more frequent, more ferocious, and more costly,” he said.
“They hit everyone no matter what their circumstances, but they hit the most vulnerable the hardest.”
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