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White House Official: Biden Will Not Attend U.N. Climate Summit

President Biden’s absence from the United Nations climate summit in Dubai has raised eyebrows. According to a White House official, the president will not be in attendance at the two-week summit, known as COP28, which is expected to host world leaders such as King Charles III and Pope Francis. The official did not provide a reason for Mr. Biden’s absence, but senior White House aides pointed to the recent conflicts in Israel and Ukraine as being among the reasons that have consumed the president’s time.

The decision for President Biden not to attend marks a shift from his engagement with climate change issues in recent years. Over the past two years, he has participated in the annual U.N. climate conference. His decision to forgo this year’s conference has prompted responses from climate activists and analysts, some of whom argue that such conferences typically do not produce marquee outcomes.

With scientists emphasizing that the world must reduce emissions by 43 percent by 2030 to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, discussions at the Dubai summit are anticipated to focus on ways to increase climate action and debate a potential phaseout of fossil fuels. Amid concerns about President Biden’s absence, observers note that the recent establishment of a joint U.S.-China agreement to boost renewables could have a more significant impact than the leaders attending the summit. Regardless, the United States is expected to face criticism for not following through on pledges to aid developing countries in transitioning to clean energy and adapting to climate change.

The decision not to attend by both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris comes amid concerns about the lack of clear action plans during previous climate summits. While some are questioning the significance of their attendance at the summit, others believe that their engagement could have far-reaching implications in shaping international efforts to combat climate change.

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