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British PM leaves door open to attending climate summit

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street for the House of Commons for his first Prime Minister’s Questions in London on Oct. 26, 2022. Sunak was elected by the ruling Conservative party to replace Liz Truss, who resigned.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office signaled he may still attend the COP27 climate summit, set to begin this weekend in Egypt, days after saying the prime minister would not be there.

On Thursday, a spokesman for 10 Downing St. told the BBC that the newly minted prime minister would not attend the United Nations summit, citing “other pressing domestic commitments.”

However, on Monday, Sunak’s office seemingly backtracked, telling the broadcaster Sunak’s plans were “under review.”

“The prime minister is focused on pressing domestic issues, most significantly preparing for the autumn statement, so any attendance at COP would depend on progress on preparation for that fiscal event, and that work is ongoing,” the spokesperson said. “The prime minister fully recognizes the importance of the COP summit and is fully committed to addressing climate change.”

Appearing on the broadcaster’s morning show “BBC Breakfast,” British Environment Minister Mark Spencer said “the U.K.’s very keen to play its part,” adding “if [Sunak’s] diary allows, he would want to go.” Spencer was noncommittal when the BBC’s Jon Kay asked if he was “softening us up for a U-turn.”

Sunak, who became prime minister last week after his predecessor, Liz Truss, resigned following a 45-day tenure, had faced pushback over his reported absence, including from COP26 President Alok Sharma, who said “going to COP27 would allow for engagement with other world leaders. I think it does send a signal — if the PM were to go — about our renewed commitment on this issue.”

The United Kingdom holds the current COP presidency and will transfer it to Egypt when the summit begins on Sunday.

Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended the 2021 COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Johnson, who resigned in September, reportedly plans to attend COP27, according to The Guardian.

Tags Alok Sharma Boris Johnson Boris Johnson COP 27 Rishi Sunak

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