The White House announced on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris will be part of the U.S. delegation to attend the yearly United Nations summit on global warming in Dubai.
It seems that the upcoming COP28 trip was organized quickly, as her team had previously stated she had no intention of attending.
The reason for the revised plans by White House officials was not disclosed. This development follows backlash over Joe Biden’s choice to not attend the summit. Additionally, he is no longer anticipated to fulfill his pledge to visit Africa before the year’s end.
Biden had a conversation with President Mohamed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, as the country is hosting COP28. Based on a report of the call, Biden expressed that Harris will exhibit the United States’ leadership in addressing climate change both domestically and internationally, and will play a role in encouraging greater global determination at this crucial event.
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, along with special envoy John Kerry, climate adviser Ali Zaidi, and clean energy adviser John Podesta will also be traveling to Dubai. The summit serves as a chance for leaders from around the world to evaluate their achievements, or lack thereof, in combating global warming.
“I am aware of the pressing nature of this challenge, as well as our determination,” Podesta stated during a press conference on Wednesday. He also mentioned that Biden’s plans are aimed at expediting the adoption of sustainable energy sources in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
Harris will only be attending the two-week conference for a short time and is set to depart from Washington on Friday and come back on Sunday. She is anticipated to give a speech on Saturday.
Her trip will be closely watched for reasons other than climate change. She’s the highest-ranking U.S. leader to visit an Arab nation since the war between Israel and Hamas began almost two months ago.
Biden’s initial itinerary included a visit to Jordan and Israel in October, but the stop was cancelled due to controversy surrounding a hospital explosion in the Gaza Strip.
Despite initial accusations from Hamas officials that Israel was responsible for the explosion, additional investigations, including one conducted by The Associated Press, concluded that it was actually a misfired Palestinian rocket that caused the blast.