Exclusive: Biden sending 13 cabinet members, high-level officials to UN climate summit in show of force

President Joe Biden is planning a show of strength at next month’s pivotal UN climate summit in Glasgow.

The president is sending 13 cabinet members and senior administration officials, including his top domestic and international climate advisers Gina McCarthy and John Kerry, according to a schedule obtained by CNN.

Biden also plans to attend the conference.

Kerry, who is Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and has been engaging in climate diplomacy around the world this past year, will be attending the conference throughout its duration. McCarthy and Biden will attend the beginning of the conference to emphasize what the US is doing to lower its own greenhouse gas emissions and hit Biden’s Paris Climate Agreement goal of slashing emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

In addition to Kerry and McCarthy, the officials attending are: Secretary of State Tony Blinken; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm; EPA Administrator Michael Regan; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Interior Secretary Deb Haaland; Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen; USAID Administrator Samantha Power; NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad; WH Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Eric Lander; and Brian Deese, the National Economic Council director.

“In Glasgow, the United States will showcase President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis,” a White House official told CNN. “They will demonstrate the strength of the entire US government working in lock-step to reduce emissions and achieve our international climate commitments — and that the countries who take decisive action on climate will reap the economic and jobs benefits of the clean energy future.”

The White House official added that US officials will encourage other countries to take decisive action to keep 1.5 degrees of global warming within reach, especially as the world is currently on a trajectory to reach 2.7 degrees of global warming without significant emissions cuts.

The big question is whether Biden will be able to go to COP with concrete commitments from the US. Much of the president’s climate agenda depends on Congress, and whether it can pass the president’s massive budget and climate bill before COP26 starts. The fate of that bill is uncertain, as negotiations between members of Biden’s own party drag on with little clarity on an end date.

Some Democratic senators recently told CNN they are anxious about whether Congress will have passed critical climate investments before the international summit.

“That is a real concern,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware told CNN. “I think it’s critical that we go to Glasgow with the package of President Biden’s proposals moving forward.”

“I’m concerned about whether it gets done at all, and we can’t let that happen,” Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told CNN. “America has to lead the world on this.”

CORRECTION: This story and headline have been updated to reflect that Brian Deese, the National Economic Council director, will also attend COP26.

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