Britain’s new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced on Wednesday that he will attend a UN climate conference in Egypt, sparking anger for refusing to attend the global event early in his tenure.
Sunak argued that “squeezing domestic commitments” would keep him out of COP27 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after receiving an economic crunch from predecessor Liz Truss.
But it fueled doubts about Sunak’s interest in the planetary emergency, and critics said the inexperienced leader was missing out on an opportunity to rub shoulders with US President Joe Biden and European counterparts.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. No energy without investment in renewables.” Rishi Sunak He wrote on Twitter.
“That’s why I’m attending @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a safe and sustainable future.”
There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change.
There is no energy security without investing in renewables.
So I will participate @COP27P Next week: Delivering on Glasgow’s legacy of creating a safe and sustainable future.
— Rishi Sunak (@Rishi Sunak) November 2, 2022
The Scottish city was the venue for COP26 under the leadership of Truss’ predecessor Boris Johnson, who made ambitions to make Britain “net zero” on climate change and emissions a signature policy.
Truss cast serious doubt on that commitment with his staunch skepticism about net zero – and barred King Charles III from attending COP27.
The new king is a lifelong campaigner for the environment, and Sunak’s change of heart could renew debate over whether Britain should allow him to press the climate case in Egypt.
The monarch is due to host a pre-COP reception at Buckingham Palace on Friday for business leaders, campaigners and politicians, including US climate change envoy John Kerry.
Sunak’s face lifted after Johnson confirmed he would go to COP27 at Egypt’s invitation in a Sky News interview broadcast on Tuesday.
“If the UK is to be seen as a global leader, it needs to lead. It is right that the Prime Minister attends the upcoming COP27,” Oxfam GB climate chief Tracey Carty said after Sunak’s U-turn.
“It is vital that the UK moves forward, not only for the benefit of countries affected by climate change, but also for its own credibility on the world stage,” he said.
During his tenure, Johnson saw renewable energy as key to a greener UK economy and its quest for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
But upon taking office, Sunak dropped COP26 chairman Alok Sharma from his cabinet.
Sharma said he was “delighted” by Sunak’s change of heart, but opposition Labor’s Ed Miliband accused the new leader of being a “phone”.
Labour’s climate spokesman Miliband tweeted: “The Prime Minister has been shamed into going to COP27 by a deluge of hope that he will fail to turn up.”
“He’s going to avoid the embarrassment of not providing leadership.”
Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP in the UK Parliament, welcomed Sunak’s announcement.
“But what an embarrassing misstep on the world stage,” he tweeted. “Let this be a lesson to him — climate leadership is key.
“Now he must urgently increase UK ambition on emissions reduction targets and pay what we owe to global climate funds.”
The criticism followed revelations this week that Britain had failed to make around $300 million in promised payments to international climate finance bodies.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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