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Sunak criticised for skipping COP27 climate summit

Sunak criticised for skipping COP27 climate summit
28.10.2022
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of “a failure of leadership” for not attending the COP27 climate summit next month.

Opposition parties and environmental groups said the decision showed the government was not taking the climate crisis seriously enough.

Downing Street said the PM had “other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget”.

Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss had been due to attend the conference.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey spoke with BBC she was planning to attend along with the outgoing Alok Sharma, who was president of last year’s COP in the UK.

Defending Mr Sunak’s decision, Ms Coffey said the “big political moments” tended to happen at the conference every five years – such as last year’s summit in Glasgow – and that this year’s conference would be more about implementation.

She insisted that “protecting the planet is absolutely a priority for the government”.

“We remain committed to net zero and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change. The UK is forging ahead of many other countries on net zero,” she added.

Speaking to LBC, the minister said: “The UK continues to show global leadership as opposed to just a gathering of people in Egypt.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Britain showing up to work with world leaders is an opportunity to grasp. Not an event to shun.”

The Liberal Democrats also criticised the decision, with leader Sir Ed Davey saying it “flies in the face of the UK’s proud tradition of leading the world in our response to the climate change”.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the decision made “a mockery of any government claims on continued climate leadership”.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said the move suggests Mr Sunak does not take climate change “seriously enough”.

COP27 will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt, from 6 to 18 November – finishing the day after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to set out the UK’s tax and spending plans.

The annual UN climate summits are designed to help governments agree steps to limit global temperature rises. The UK hosted last year’s summit, COP26, in Glasgow and was attended by then-PM Boris Johnson.

The summit in Egypt is expected to focus on three main areas – reducing emissions, helping countries prepare for and deal with climate change, and securing technical support for developing countries for these activities.

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