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Monday, March 4, 2024

President Joe Biden isn’t attending this year’s global climate conference

 Leaders show their priorities by their actions  — what message is the U.S. sending?


Beginning on Nov. 30, leaders from all over the world will meet for the Conference of the Parties (COP) that is the result of a collective treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). This treaty has set the tone for the numerous climate conversations that take place each year at the conference. This year marks the 28th discussion (COP28) with nearly 200 country world leaders invited annually since 1992.

For nearly three decades, the conferences have acted as a platform for leaders to discuss global issues and crises resulting from climate change and monitor progress on proposed solutions. 

COP28 is being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. The main focus of this year is to discuss the progress made to meet the objectives laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement and outline a plan of action. 

This year, some world leaders have deprioritized the meeting, with President Joe Biden announcing that he will not be attending due to developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the country in his place.

There are many pressing issues happening in the world that require the attention and time of global leaders — still, it is important for these leaders to visibly prioritize the climate crisis. The symbolism of the president attending is essential to establishing urgency surrounding climate change, both for the U.S. and the global community.

Considering the significant role the U.S. plays in the world, it is notable that our leaders over the past decade have an inconsistent record of attendance at the conference, as well as in general support for climate change solutions. 

Collaboration is one of the most crucial tools the world has to address climate change. If  world leaders are in agreement on issues pertaining to the crisis, then the world has a better chance of effectively fighting climate change. When country leaders are united on issues, there is a greater likelihood for agreement on global policies and commitment to action.

UC Davis can be taken as an example of what strong commitment to action can look like, as the number one school in sustainability in North America. With UC Davis’ recent Fossil Fuel-Free Pathway Plan, the school is projected to use 95% fewer fossil fuels than they did in 2019 by 2040. 

Not only is UC Davis doing their part to mitigate climate change, but the city of Davis has also done work to limit their eco-impact with the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. The plan is currently working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city on an ongoing basis. 

Running a public university is a different project than tackling a world-wide crisis but the U.S. needs to show the same consistency in fighting for climate change solutions. COP28 demonstrates how world leaders have recognized the importance of global collaboration but when key players do not consistently prioritize climate change, it sends a mixed message about the importance of these issues. 

Written by: The Editorial Board


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