Following widespread criticism of his previous decision not to attend next week’s Cop27 climate summit in Egypt, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that he will attend.
“There Can Be No Long-Term Prosperity Without Addressing Climate Change.” Sunak tweeted, “There is no energy security without investing in renewables.”
“That is why I will attend @COP27P next week: to carry on Glasgow’s legacy of constructing a secure and sustainable future,” the post concludes.
A spokesperson for Downing Street said that Sunak was not expected to go to the climate summit last week because he had “other pressing commitments,” such as getting ready for the government’s autumn budget.
Politicians and climate activists were outraged by the decision. Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said on Twitter on Wednesday that “caving in to criticism is not leadership” and that the Prime Minister’s reversal was “political management.”
Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News on Tuesday that he would be attending Cop27, adding to Sunak’s pressure.
Caroline Lucas, a Green Party MEP and former party co-leader, tweeted: “Glad To See Sunak’s Screeching U-turn On #COP27, But What An Embarrassing Mis-step On The World Stage.” “Let This Be A Reminder To Him: Climate Leadership Is Important.”
Missing the summit would have been a “remarkable own goal,” according to Rachel Kennerley, an international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth, a network of environmental organisations.
“It’s good that he’s seen sense and decided to attend,” she said in a news release, adding that the UK government has a lot of work to do to rebuild its reputation on climate change after backtracking on commitments made at Cop26 last year in Glasgow.
“Simply showing up will not suffice,” Kennerley stated.
Sunak has rescinded former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ decision to lift the ban on fracking during his eight days in 10 Downing Street. Members of her Conservative Party reportedly got into fights over the controversial energy source the day before she resigned last month.
Kennerley stated that while this reversal is a good start for his leadership, he must also abandon plans for deep coal mining as well as oil and gas from the North Sea.
Cop27 begins on November 6 in Sharm El Sheikh, a Red Sea resort.
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