British PM confirms UN climate summit attendance in reversal from last week
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed Wednesday that he will attend next week’s COP27 United Nations climate conference, less than a week after his office said domestic priorities would force him to skip it.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables. That is why I will attend @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future,” Sunak tweeted Wednesday.
Days after Sunak took office last week, a spokesperson for his office said the prime minister would not attend the summit, set to begin Sunday in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Sunak’s office had cited “pressing domestic commitments,” including an upcoming budget deadline, for the prime minister’s absence.
Following pushback, however, Sunak’s office told the BBC earlier this week his potential attendance remained under review. Appearing on British TV earlier this week, Minister for Food Mark Spencer said “the U.K.’s very keen to play its part,” adding “if [Sunak’s] diary allows, he would want to go” to COP27. But he was noncommittal on whether the prime minister was making a full “U-turn.”
The United Kingdom currently holds the COP presidency after hosting the 2021 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, with then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in attendance. Both Johnson and President Biden are set to attend the 2022 conference. Critics of Sunak’s announcement that he would not attend included COP26 President Alok Sharma, who said Sunday that he was “disappointed” by the decision, adding “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.”
Sharma praised Sunak’s reversal on Twitter Wednesday, writing, “Delighted that @RishiSunak is attending #COP27 — completely agree with his comment that ‘there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change’.”
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