COP28: Which world leaders are due to speak at Cop28 - and which have declined to attend? King Charles III, Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden
World leaders are descending on the COP28 summit in Dubai – but some are most notable by their absence.
More than 100 world leaders are due to address the climate change gathering on Friday and Saturday, with speakers set to include French president Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
King Charles III, who often speaks on climate issues, is also attending COP28, where he has already met First Minister Humza Yousaf at the official opening of Heriot Watt University’s new Dubai campus. Mr Yousaf will also take part in a roundtable with representatives from the global south and youth activists and will meet with the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Simon Stiell.
Perhaps one of the most high-profile absences is that of US president Joe Biden, who has sent deputy Kamala Harris in his place, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Both men lead the countries which are the world’s two largest emitters of carbon. John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy on climate change, will be in Dubai for the entirety of the two-week summit.
Earlier COP summits were not generally attended by the president. Mr Biden made his first appearance when the event was held in Glasgow in 2021 and also made a brief visit to the summit in Egypt last year.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is also to be at the event. However, his will be a short visit on Friday and he will leave before the main leaders’ speeches. He will deliver his address at the opening session of the World Climate Action Summit and will participate in three side events – two of which are being co-hosted by India – as well as holding a number of bilateral meetings with global counterparts.
Pope Francis was due to attend, but the 86-year-old is said to be recovering from flu and has had to cancel. During his time as Pope, he has put environmental issues high on his agenda and had been set to be the first Pontiff to take part in a COP event. He had been expected to use the platform to urge countries and leaders to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Syria's delegation to the United Nations climate summit in Dubai will be headed by its prime minister, but it is not clear whether President Bashar al-Assad will attend the meeting in any capacity.
Controversy has surrounded president Assad’s invitation to the summit. He has visited the United Arab Emirates twice in the past year, but is sanctioned by a number of Western countries over the civil war that has raged in Syria for more than a decade. Earlier this month, France issued an arrest warrant for him over his regime’s alleged use of banned chemical weapons against civilians.
Israeli prime minister Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also declined to take part in the talks, due to the conflict between Israel and Gaza. However, Israeli president Isaac Herzog and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas will both address the summit.
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