British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak backed off his plan to skip the COP27 climate summit in Egypt and announced Wednesday that he will join world leaders in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change”, Sunak tweeted. “There is no energy security without investing in renewable energy. That’s why I will be attending COP27P next week: to carry on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”
Sunak originally planned to avoid the summit, citing “pressing internal commitments”, including preparations for the autumn budget, but a government spokesman had pointed out that Britain remained “absolutely committed” to “leading international action to address. climate change “.
But opposition party leaders and climate critics have insisted Britain could not lead if it were not present, lobbying Sunak to reverse its decision.
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Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that he planned to attend the summit, increasing pressure on Sunak to change course and eventually caved.
Green Congresswoman Caroline Lucas called Sunak’s original decision “an embarrassing misstep” and welcomed the “jarring” turn, saying it would serve as a “lesson” that “climate leadership matters.”
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Liberal Democrats spokesperson for climate change Wera Hobhouse said the recent U-turn “debacle” showed that “the environment is simply not a priority for Rishi Sunak” and insisted that he changed his mind just because Johnson had planned to attend, The Sun reported.
Downing Street rejected Hobhouse’s claim, stating that Sunak has “always recognized the importance of this summit and has indeed addressed climate change more generally”. A spokesman said the prime minister “wanted to make sure” that the government made “good progress” in its internal agenda and felt there was now “enough room to make this trip.”
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The UK hosted COP26 in Glasgow last year, during which Sunak, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, called on the private sector to make large investments in green initiatives, such as providing new funding to poor countries trying to cope with climate changes. He insisted that “public investment alone is not enough”.