COP26: Joe Biden to attend climate summit at Glasgow with nearly half his cabinet

At the UN climate summit, the US government plans to showcase their "whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis".

Zi Shan Kow | October 15, 2021, 01:04 PM

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U.S. President Joe Biden will be headed to Europe in two weeks' time to attend the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to discuss climate issues, alongside almost half of his cabinet.

Attendance at COP26

According to a press release by the White House, Biden is confirmed to be attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland from Nov. 1 to 2, reported CNBC.

The two-week-long United Nations (UN) climate summit was originally scheduled for 2020, but was pushed back a year due to the pandemic.

Reuters reported that Biden will be announcing the government's key goals in tackling climate change and plans for forest and land use at the summit.

Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement when he took office early in January this year, and has committed to cut national greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent to 52 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

A "whole-of-government approach"

Biden will also be sending 13 cabinet members and senior administration officials to COP26, according to CNN.

This includes Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry, national climate adviser Gina McCarthy, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

A White House official told CNN that the U.S. will showcase their "whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis" at Glasgow next month.

The delegation will call on countries to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions required to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report suggested that under the business-as-usual scenario, the rise in global temperatures will cross the 1.5ºC mark by 2030.

Falling short of climate target

However, with COP26 just two weeks away, Congress has yet to pass the president's massive budget and climate bill to reach its emissions goals.

U.S. climate envoy Kerry said that if the legislation fails to pass, “it would be like President Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, again.”

In his interview with the Associated Press (AP), Kerry also said that COP26 is likely to fall short of the global target for cutting fossil fuel emissions.

He shared that while the US, the European Union, and Japan have made greater pledges for cutting emissions ahead of the summit, the world’s biggest climate polluter at the moment, China, has been largely silent on this front.

“By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn’t,” he said.

Europe trip

According to CNBC, Biden's first stop is Vatican City, where he will be meeting with Pope Francis on Oct. 29.

Joined by First Lady Jill Biden, they will discuss Covid-19, the climate crisis, and poverty.

This is followed by a summit of G-20 leaders in Rome, held on Oct. 30 and 31, to discuss global tax issues.


COP refers to the "Conference of the Parties", an annual climate event where global leaders come together to agree on how to tackle climate change since 1995.

From Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, COP 26 will see participating countries providing an update on their climate action as it marks the fifth year of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is a landmark international treaty that was adopted by 196 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015. It was later ratified by 191 members.

It was significant as, for the first time, both developing and developed countries are committed to limit global warming to well below 2ºC, or if possible, 1.5ºC, with a "common but differentiated responsibility" principle.

Prior to the Paris Agreement, the responsibility to reduce emissions mainly fell on the developed countries.

Under the Paris Agreement, members are supposed to update their climate actions, known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), once every five years.

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Top images by Joe Biden/FB.