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Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, will be the head of the American delegation at a significant summit focused on addressing climate change.
Science & Health

Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, will be the head of the American delegation at a significant summit focused on addressing climate change.

On Wednesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will head the U.S. delegation at the top climate summit.

The White House emphasized that President Joe Biden places the climate crisis as one of his top four priorities, but his recent focus and energy have been directed towards the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Kirsten Allen, the press secretary for the vice president, stated that during her commitments, the vice president will highlight the accomplishments of the Biden-Harris administration in implementing the most ambitious climate plan ever, both domestically and internationally.

The White House announced that Harris will oversee numerous high-ranking American officials, such as special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry and representatives from over 20 different agencies and departments.

The 28th meeting of the U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties, also known as COP28, will be organized by President Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. Following his brother’s passing in 2022, the royal became the chairman of the Supreme Petroleum Council, the leading governing body for oil, gas, and related industries in Abu Dhabi.

Nearly 200 countries represented

Over 70,000 representatives from almost 200 nations are currently gathering in Dubai, a city that has experienced rapid growth from its humble beginnings as a fishing village, thanks to its abundant oil reserves.

In this city, famous for its man-made chain of islands and extravagant shopping options within a mall that spans over 50 soccer fields and includes an indoor ski slope and a group of penguins, they will evaluate the advancement towards the objective of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

People walk near the Al Wasl Dome at Expo City ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference — also known as COP28 — that starts Nov. 30, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 28, 2023.

On November 28, 2023, individuals are seen strolling around the Al Wasl Dome in Expo City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also referred to as COP28, that will commence on November 30, 2023.

According to Biden, Harris will demonstrate the United States’ leadership in addressing climate change both domestically and internationally. She will also play a vital role in rallying other countries to take more ambitious action at this crucial event.

On Friday and Saturday, she will be present at meetings in Dubai.

Earlier this week, John Kirby, the director of strategic communications at the National Security Council, stated that Biden’s absence from the summit was due to his current focus on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Kirby also reassured that Biden is capable of managing his numerous responsibilities.

‘Race to the top’

On Wednesday, VOA inquired with White House national climate advisor Ali Zaidi about the United States’ stance on pursuing a deal to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by a specific time. In September, the leaders of the top 20 global economies were unable to reach a consensus on this matter.

Zaidi stated that Washington aims to reduce the emissions caused by the continuous burning of fossil fuels.

On Nov. 28, 2023, a woman walks by a poster in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the next United Nations Climate Change Conference — also known as COP28 — will start on Nov. 30, 2023.

On November 28, 2023, a female individual passes by a sign in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, also referred to as COP28, is set to commence on November 30, 2023.

The term “unabated” may cause controversy in this year’s statement, as it would allow for the construction of new fossil fuel facilities if they utilize untested methods for capturing and storing carbon emissions.

A group of 117 countries representing their respective governments has already expressed doubt about the proposed language and has stated their disagreement with its inclusion.

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, comprised of ministers from 16 countries such as Austria, Ethiopia, and France, stated that emission reduction technologies that are currently only available on a small scale can help reduce emissions in challenging sectors. However, they should not be used as an excuse to delay taking action on climate change, especially in the electricity generation sector where there are viable, effective, and cost-efficient alternatives for mitigating emissions. This is particularly crucial during this decade when urgent and significant reductions in emissions are necessary.

Zaidi also pointed out Biden’s role in passing a significant climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which commits at least $370 billion to clean energy over the next 10 years — something Harris will also emphasize at the gathering, administration officials told reporters in a briefing on the matter on Wednesday.

Zaidi expressed that this is a competition to achieve clean energy success. It is our goal to be at the forefront of this race, and the more nations that join, the more effectively we can address emissions. It is crucial for major economies like China to take significant steps in reducing emissions. We are taking action within our own country towards this goal.