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COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai: Live Updates

Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington last month.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris will address the United Nations climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday as a last-minute stand-in for President Biden.

Ms. Harris is expected to highlight the landmark climate law that Mr. Biden signed last year to pump at least $370 billion in spending and tax breaks into clean energy development in the United States. She will also announce initiatives to address rising emissions and help countries build resilience to climate change, her aides said.

But the vice president’s presence at the summit is likely to magnify the absence of Mr. Biden, who is skipping the event for the first time since taking office. Just over a week ago, Ms. Harris’s office said she had no plans to go, and the lateness of her addition suggests a possible strain in the much-scrutinized relationship between Ms. Harris and Mr. Biden.

Mr. Biden attended the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, when he apologized for the United States’ decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement under President Donald J. Trump. Last year, he flew to the climate summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, to reassert U.S. leadership on climate change.

Many of Mr. Biden’s top climate and energy aides said they were hopeful he would become the first American president to attend three climate summits while in office. John Kerry, Mr. Biden’s special envoy for climate change, personally made the case for the president to attend, according to one U.S. official familiar with the internal discussions.

In recent weeks, however, other aides began to say privately that Mr. Biden’s appearance was a long shot.

Those odds fell nearly to zero after Hamas attacked Israel in October and set off war in the Middle East. Mr. Biden made a hasty trip to Israel soon after the hostilities began. If he had returned to the region for the climate summit, he almost certainly would have needed to stop in Israel again, and likely in other neighboring countries that have been involved in brokering cease-fires and prisoner exchanges.

The final decision came while Mr. Biden was in Nantucket in Massachusetts with his family for Thanksgiving, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly.

The White House did not respond to requests to explain the reasons for Mr. Biden’s absence. Officials, including the president’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, have repeatedly deflected reporters’ questions about why Mr. Biden opted not to attend.

Ike Irby, the deputy domestic policy adviser to the vice president, said on a call with reporters this week that Ms. Harris’s visit to Dubai would build on the administration’s “leadership on bold global action” to address climate change.

“Throughout her engagements in Dubai, Vice President Harris will highlight the administration’s historic investments to address the climate crisis at home and abroad, and announce several initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions support, adaptation, and boost climate resilience alongside global partners,” Mr. Irby said.

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Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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