To international news now, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he will attend this month’s United Nations climate summit in Egypt – reversing a previous decision to skip it that had drawn criticism at home and abroad.
Sunak’s office previously said he had to skip the gathering, known as COP27, which starts in Egypt on Sunday. Staffers had cited “pressing domestic commitments”, including preparations for a major government budget statement scheduled for November 17.
But Sunak has since said he will attend the two-week gathering because “there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change”.
“There is no energy security without investing in renewables,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sunak’s earlier decision to skip the talks was criticised by many, including British government climate adviser Alok Sharma, who is this weekend due to hand over the presidency of the Conference of the Parties, or COP, at the summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The UK hosted last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Sunak’s about-face came a day after former prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed he will be going to the climate talks at the invitation of the host country. Under Johnson, who left office in September, the UK committed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2024.
Environmentalists worry there could be backsliding on those commitments because of the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The opposition Labour Party’s climate spokesman, Ed Miliband, said Sunak had been “shamed into going to COP27”.
“His initial instinct tells us about all about him: he just doesn’t get it when it comes to the energy bills and climate crisis,” Miliband said.