UK PM Rishi Sunak makes U-turn move, to attend COP27 in Egypt
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed on Wednesday his participation in the upcoming COP27 climate summit in Egypt taking place next week.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables,” Sunak tweeted.
He added he would be attending the summit to “deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future,” in reference to the British city hosting the last edition of the conference in 2021.
His announcement came after his office previously said Sunak was expected to skip the annual climate summit “due to other pressing domestic commitments.” inviting both criticism and support for the decision. The new prime minister, who held office on October 24 succeeding Liz Truss, has faced criticism from opposition parties, environmental groups, and some Conservatives for not attending the summit.
Britain’s COP26 president Alok Sharma told the Sunday Times over the weekend he was “pretty disappointed” when he heard that Sunak was not expected to go, saying the prime minister’s absence could undermine the nation’s position as a world leader on green issues.
The UK is the current holder of the COP presidency, after hosting the summit in Glasgow in 2021. This year, Egypt has been selected to host the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will take place in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 6-18. Sharma is set to hand over the presidency to Egypt at the COP27 summit.
Liberal Democrat climate spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse has called Sunak to “immediately confirm his attendance”, stating: “It shouldn’t take Boris Johnson going to COP to embarrass Rishi Sunak into doing the right thing.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said it was “absolutely so wrong” that the prime minister was not going, as the UK is still COP president, adding: “Symbols matter.”
On Monday, the government’s most senior environmental advisers, including influential climate experts Lord Stern and Laurence Tubiana, urged Sunak to head to Egypt and attend the conference, saying it presented “an opportunity… to restore the trust and confidence of the international community in Global Britain.”
The COP27 Summit in Egypt will be the fifth COP (Conference of the Parties) in Africa.