Rishi Sunak declines COP27 invitation, demotes climate minister
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has declined the option to attend the COP27 climate conference in Egypt this month, while also demoting one of his key climate ministers from the Cabinet.
Rishi Sunak confirmed on Thursday evening (27 October) that he would not be attending the two-week conference in Sharm El-sheikh, which runs from Sunday 6 November to 18 November. Keep up to date with COP27 preparations with edie’s action tracker.
A Government spokesperson told the BBC that Sunak will remain in the UK during the summit to focus on domestic issues. Outgoing COP president Alok Sharma, who 12 months ago brought the gavel down on the formation of the Glasgow Climate Pact, will represent the UK at COP27, alongside other ministers.
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss was due to attend COP27 prior to her resignation but had effectively barred King Charles from attending the two-week summit.
Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: “This is a massive failure of climate leadership. We were the Cop26 hosts and now the UK Prime Minister isn’t even bothering to turn up to Cop27.
“What Rishi Sunak obviously fails to understand is that tackling the climate crisis isn’t just about our reputation and standing abroad, but the opportunities for lower bills, jobs, and energy security it can deliver at home.”
Sunak did attend COP26 in Glasgow last year, alongside then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Other world leaders are yet to confirm whether they’ll be attending COP27, but more than 200 governments have been invited.
Downing Street has also confirmed that Graham Stuart was reappointed to the role of climate minister, but has had the right to attend Cabinet removed as part of the final ministerial reshuffle.
Sunak stuck with Truss’s pick for climate minister in Graham Stuart. Stuart has, as IEMA has outlined, stated an ambition for the UK to decarbonise more rapidly and increase the scale of the deployment of offshore wind. However, his lack of scientific qualifications and bullish support for new oil and gas capacity in the North Sea, as well as support for fracking under Truss, have raised eyebrows.
After delivering his first speech in the role, top of his to-do list has been conducting a Cabinet reshuffle. Here, we look at those appointed to the top jobs relating to the UK’s green economy, at the Treasury, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and Department of Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Commenting on the announcements Gareth Redmond-King, International Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “The UK built a global reputation for leading on climate at COP26, welcoming dozens of Presidents and Prime Ministers to Glasgow. By not turning up to mark the end of the UK’s presidency year, is Sunak missing a trick? And what does it say to allies like the US, as well as to the British public who want the UK to show leadership on climate change?”
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I think the global climate crisis is not important enough for Rishi Sunak to attend COP 27. When the cost of adaptation is realised in GDP terms over the coming years then maybe light will dawn on those in power.
The Sunak refusal exhibits that green agenda always a takes back seat when visble financial crisis are faced which is unfortunate.