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Vice President Harris announces new policies at COP28, hoping to attract young voters

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

Vice President Harris is in Dubai today. She's there to represent the United States at the annual U.N. climate summit known as COP28. And while she's there, she's also meeting with world leaders to discuss the conflict in the Middle East. White House correspondent Deepa Shivaram is traveling with the vice president and joins us now from those climate talks in Dubai. Thanks for being with us, Deepa.

DEEPA SHIVARAM, BYLINE: Hey, Asma.

KHALID: So it is the vice president's first time at this climate summit, and she's making announcements on new investments from the United States. Can you fill us in? What are the specific pledges?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. So there's a couple of things the U.S. is rolling out while at this climate summit. And the big one that Harris announced is a $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund. And that's a U.N. fund that helps developing nations deal with the effects of climate change. I will note, though, that this is a pledge and that any new funding would have to be approved by Congress, which, of course, is a pretty tall order.

KHALID: Indeed. And, Deepa, my understanding is this was not the only announcement the administration made at the COP summit today. What else did the Biden administration say?

SHIVARAM: Right. There's a lot going on at the summit. The EPA also announced new federal rules to curtail methane pollution from the oil and gas industries. There's an intent from the White House to show that they're trying to tackle the climate crisis on a lot of different fronts - by taking government actions, for one, but also by holding big corporations accountable. And there's also an acknowledgment that there's still more to do. Here's what the vice president said on the main stage today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Today, we are demonstrating through action how the world can and must meet this crisis. This is a pivotal moment. Our action collectively - or worse, our inaction - will impact billions of people for decades to come.

KHALID: So, Deepa, turning back to the political environment here in the United States, climate is a major...

SHIVARAM: Yeah.

KHALID: ...Issue for many young voters, and they have not been particularly impressed with the Biden administration's action, or inaction, to date. How do these politics come into play for the vice president while she's in Dubai?

SHIVARAM: Yeah. I mean, it's very top of mind for the vice president while she's here in Dubai at COP28. A White House official told me that the criticism from younger voters and the younger generation, you know, coming at this administration actually can be helpful because it helps pressure and push for the government to make more progress. Harris has been trying to energize younger voters around the country because they're a really critical base for Democrats going into 2024. And it's not just climate policy they're unhappy about right now. It's also the way the administration has responded to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

KHALID: So I want to ask you a little bit more about that conflict. The vice president is also having meetings today with regional leaders about that conflict between Israel and Hamas and the fighting in Gaza. Who is she talking to, and what are they hoping to achieve?

SHIVARAM: She's meeting with Egyptian President Sisi, and she's meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed, who is, of course, hosting this climate summit here in Dubai. These meetings are all coming after Israel has resumed attacks on Gaza after that pause in the war. And the White House says Harris is looking to restore the pause. But she's also focused on what happens next in Gaza after the fighting ends.

KHALID: That's NPR White House correspondent Deepa Shivaram. Thanks so much, Deepa.

SHIVARAM: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.
Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
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