LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will attend the COP27 summit in Egypt next week, he said on Wednesday, overturning the much-criticized decision to skip the annual climate meeting to work on urgent economic issues at home.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson had previously said participation in climate talks would depend on progress on an internal budget statement scheduled for November 17.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewable energy,” Sunak wrote on Twitter.
He said he would attend the summit to “deliver Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future” – a reference to a deal at last year’s event hosted by Britain. The deal was intended to keep alive the world’s ability to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
Climate activists, opposition politicians and even some within his own party have criticized Sunak after his office said last week that he should not have attended the 27th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
“The prime minister was ashamed to go to COP27 because of the torrent of disbelief that would not show up,” said opposition Labor Party climate policy spokesman Ed Miliband. “He will avoid the embarrassment of not providing leadership.”
British COP26 president Alok Sharma, who had been critical of Sunak’s initial decision, said he was delighted that the prime minister attended the conference.
Meanwhile, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted world leaders at last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, said he would attend COP27. “I was invited by the Egyptians,” he told Sky News in an interview Tuesday. “I want to talk a little bit about how I see things and how we see things in the UK.”
Separately Britain, late Tuesday said it would delay a decision on a new coal mine in Cumbria, northern England until December 8, meaning news that the project will move forward will not emerge. until the end of the climate talks.
Britain has a climate goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and the government’s independent climate consultants, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), have said that this goal would be more difficult if the mine went ahead.
“Next week’s climate summit race was an ideal opportunity for the government to rebuild its battered ecological credentials by rejecting this harmful and unnecessary coal mine. It’s a shame they didn’t seize it.” the Earth (FoE) energy activist Tony Bosworth said.
The Cumbria mine was developed by privately owned West Cumbria Mining, which said the project to extract coking coal for the steel industry would create around 500 jobs.
(Reported by William James, Sachin Ravikumar and Susanna Twidale; edited by Barbara Lewis)