Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Dubai this week to attend the United Nations’ climate change negotiations that are being hosted by the United Arab Emirates, the White House announced Wednesday.
Harris will join COP28 on Friday and Saturday during a two-day stretch of speeches from heads of state such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Harris will be the highest-ranking U.S. representative of the dozens of lawmakers and agency officials participating in the nearly two-week negotiations, which begin Thursday. President Joe Biden is not expected to travel to Dubai for the conference despite attending the last two COPs that have taken place during his presidency.
“The Vice President’s participation in COP28 will continue the Biden-Harris Administration’s leadership on bold, global action to address the climate crisis, advance U.S. climate goals, and help ensure a strong outcome at COP28,” White House press secretary Kirsten Allen said in a statement.
This year’s negotiations are expected to focus on thorny issues such as shifting off of fossil fuels and agreeing on a framework for a new international fund to pay for irreversible climate damage in developing countries.
Countries will also engage in a “global stocktake” that assesses how far the 196 parties to the 2015 Paris climate agreement are from reaching their goal of keeping global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius of warming compared with the pre-Industrial Revolution era. Most nations are far behind their targets.
Nations like the U.S. intend to use the results of that stocktake to call on countries to undertake action for more aggressive plans to cut planet-heating emissions for their next round of climate action strategies, which are due in 2025.
“The global stocktake needs to earn credibility by being candid, strong, visionary,” climate envoy John Kerry said in a Wednesday call with reporters. “It needs to lay out what’s happened since Paris.”
Sara Schonhardt contributed to this report.