Change of heart

Sunak u-turns and will now attend COP27

Rishi Sunak: delivering on Glasgow’s legacy

Rishi Sunak has u-turned on his decision not to go to the COP27 climate summit and says he will no go to Egypt.

The Prime Minister had insisted he was too busy dealing with the UK economy and preparing for the Budget on 17 November.

But climate campaigners, opposition parties and COP26 president Alok Sharma said that staying away from the event in Sharm El Sheikh.

Mr Sunak tweeted that there would be “no long-term prosperity without action on climate change” or 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.”

The change of mind came after Boris Johnson confirmed weekend speculation that he would attend in what critics see as an attempt to upstage Mr Sunak at a global event..

Green MP Caroline Lucas described Mr Sunak’s decision as a “screeching U-turn” after “an embarrassing mis-step on the world stage”.

She added: “Let this be a lesson to him – climate leadership matters.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said it was “embarrassing” the prime minister had been “dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing”.

Liberal Democrat climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: “This whole debacle has shown the environment is simply not a priority for Rishi Sunak. He’s only going after being embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance.”

Among others attending COP27 are US President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The conference opens on Sunday 6 and runs until 18 November, the day after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers the UK government’s tax and spending plans.

Mr Sunak’s record on environmental issues is patchy. Cuts he imposed In March 2021 as Chancellor led to the abandonment of a £1.5 billion scheme to insulate homes. In October that year, on the eve of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, he announced a plan to halve taxes on domestic flight – a move that would encourage air travel and boost its emissions.

However, he always been enthusiastic about the business world’s role in energy transition. In November 2021, he announced a world-first scheme to force UK-based companies to publish net-zero transition plans, saying the UK “has a responsibility to lead the way” on financing climate action.

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