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Rishi Sunak will not attend COP27, disappointing campaigners

A spokesperson for No 10 has said Rishi Sunak will not be attending COP27, disappointing campaigners who say this implies the environment is not a priority for the prime minister.  

Former PM Liz Truss had been set to attend at least one day of the two-week conference, but Sunak has said he won’t be able to go due to ‘other pressing commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget.’  

Sunak has earlier this week committed to keeping the ban on fracking and said the government ‘care deeply about passing our children an environment in a better state’ at his first PMQs.  

But the prime minister has also removed the climate minister from cabinet, alongside COP26 president Alok Sharma.  

Green MP Caroline Lucas told the BBC ‘the signal this gives out to the rest of the world is deeply deeply serious’, as she urged the PM to reconsider.  

In a tweet, she wrote: ‘The first test of leadership is to turn up. The new PM’s decision not to attend COP27 makes a mockery of any government claims on continued climate leadership – and what a shameful way to end the UK’s COP Presidency.’  

A UN report this week warned that current climate pledges did not go far enough and would not enable the world to reach the 1.5°C target.  

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the BBC this week he has hoped to see both the prime minister and King Charles in attendance. The King had previously been advised by Liz Truss not to attend, but it’s unclear whether that will change with the new PM in place.  

Other major leaders of the 200 governments invited to the event are intending to go, including President Joe Biden.  

Rebecca Newsom, Head of politics at Greenpeace, tweeted: ‘For Rishi not to show up at #COP27 would be like a runner failing to turn up with the baton at a crucial stage of the relay. Would Sunak rather prioritise climate change or allow the world to face catastrophe? Who is he going to send in his place?’  

Photo by Markus Spiske

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