Rishi Sunak Confirms He Will Attend COP27 Despite Ruling Out Going
Rishi Sunak attended the COP26 Summit in Glasgow as Chancellor (Alamy)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has U-turned on his decision not to attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt this week, shortly after Boris Johnson confirmed he would be going.
His official spokesperson claimed last week that he would be skipping the event due to “other pressing domestic commitments, not least preparations for the autumn Budget”.
But he has since backtracked on this position, confirming on Twitter that he would now be going to the conference, which begins in Sharm el-Sheikh this Sunday.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables,” he said.
“That is why I will attend [COP27] next week: to deliver on Glasgow's legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”
The announcement comes a day after former prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed to Sky News that he would be attending the summit after being invited by the organisers.
He claimed he wanted to use the trip to "talk a little bit about how I see things and how we see things in the UK".
COP26 president Alok Sharma praised Sunak's decision to attend, having claimed at the weekend he was "pretty disappointed" that the prime minister wasn't going.
He wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning: "Delighted that [Rishi Sunak] is attending [COP27] - completely agree with his comment that 'there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change'."
He told the Sunday Times last week that while he understood Sunak has "a huge in-tray of domestic issues that has to be dealt with," he felt it would "send a signal" if the prime minister were to attend "about our renewed commitment to the issue".
Sharma, who will use his attendance at the summit to hand the COP presidency to Egypt, also warned that one of the reasons why the Australian Conservatives lost the election to the Labor Party earlier this year was "people didn’t feel they took this issue seriously enough”.
Other major world leaders are set to attend COP27, including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Despite originally ruling out his attendance last week, Sunak’s spokesperson suggested on Monday his attendance was "dependent" on whether he and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made sufficient progress on preparation for the Autumn Statement on 17 November.
Sunak's decision upon entering No 10 last week to remove Sharma and Climate Minister Graham Stuart from Cabinet have also fuelled claims from critics that he is not taking climate change seriously enough.
PoliticsHome reported on Tuesday that Sunak was expected to go to the climate change summit, despite not yet stating he would go.
A Whitehall source said yesterday there had "definitely been some movement" on Sunak's proposed attendance in recent days.
Sources told PoliticsHome there had been concern within government that Sunak not attending would reflect badly on the country's global image if the UK Prime Minister was visibly absent from meetings with other world leaders.
His attendance would also open the door to King Charles, who had "unanimously agreed" with No 10 that he would not attend the summit.
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