Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agrees to attend COP27

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has u-turned on a decision to not attend COP27 in Egypt next week, stating he will now attend part of the Summit to “deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agrees to attend COP27

Image: HM Treasury CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Last week, reports emerged that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had declined the option to attend the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, which starts next week on 6 November.

At the time, a Government spokesperson told the BBC that Sunak will remain in the UK during the summit to focus on domestic issues. Instead, outgoing COP president Alok Sharma, who 12 months ago brought the gavel down on the formation of the Glasgow Climate Pact, was chosen to represent the UK at COP27, alongside other ministers.

However, with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating he would attend COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh and Buckingham Palace announcing over the weekend that his Majesty King Charles will be hosting a reception for world leaders, environment ministers, NGOs and business representatives on Saturday (5 November), Sunak has decided to attend the summit.,

“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables,” Sunak tweeted on Wednesday morning.

“That is why I will attend COP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

Opposing MPs welcomed the change of decision, but used it to highlight that Sunak was steps away from an “embarrassing” approach to climate negotiations.

Green MP Caroline Lucas welcomed the decision, but labelled it a “screeching U-turn”, while Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner claimed that the PM had to be “dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing”.

At the time of the PM’s original announcement that he wouldn’t attend, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband stated that it was a “massive failure of climate leadership.”

Rachel Kennerley, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “It would have been a remarkable own goal for the Prime Minister to miss this year’s UN climate talks as the UK’s own presidency draws to a close, so it’s good that he’s seen sense and decided to attend. But simply showing up won’t be enough. The UK government has a lot of work to do to rebuild its climate reputation after a year of rowing back on commitments made in Glasgow.

“The PM quashed plans to revive fracking which was a good start to his tenure. If the UK expects to be taken seriously at the negotiating table, then the government must scrap plans for new oil and gas in the North Sea and say no to the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years. These talks must also unblock the vital financial support countries including the UK have promised to communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“Beyond this, investing in cheap, clean and popular renewables alongside a nationwide insulation scheme to fix our heat-leaking homes must be the focus. This will lower soaring energy bills, cut harmful carbon emissions and help our economy thrive.”

Sunak’s decision comes as new research reveals that nations are collectively off-track to deliver the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

COP27 is viewed as a crucial summit to get nations to strengthen climate commitments in a bid to keep 1.5C alive. Read edie’s in-depth analysis here.

You can also keep up-to-date with all COP27 developments via our Action Tracker.

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