Rishi Sunak has reversed on his decision to skip Cop27 and announced that he will be attending next week’s crucial climate summit in Egypt.

The prime minister had been under growing pressure to U-turn after his predecessor Boris Johnson confirmed he would be going to the event at Sharm el Sheikh.

In apparent dig at the new PM, Mr Johnson said it had “become unfashionable” to talk about the sucesses of the previous Cop26 meeting held in Glasgow.

On Wednesday Mr Sunak tweeted: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables.”

He added: “That is why I will attend Cop27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

No 10 previously said Mr Sunak was not expected to attend “due to other pressing domestic commitments”, despite the UK handing over presidency to Egypt for the 6 to 18 November summit.

But by Monday a No 10 spokesperson said the position was “under review”, before Mr Sunak announced the change on Wednesday.

Labour leader Angela Rayner said the PM had been “dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing” after he committed to attend the Cop27 climate summit. “Embarrassing,” she added.

Liberal Democrats’ climate change spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said Mr Sunak was “only going after being embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance” and said the UK needs “action” from the prime minister.

Green MP Caroline Lucas – who had said she hoped Mr Johnson would “embarrass” Mr Sunak into going – said she was “glad to see Sunak’s screeching U-turn on Cop27”.

She added: “But what an embarrassing mis-step on the world stage. Let this be a lesson to him – climate leadership matters. Now he urgently needs to increase UK ambition on emission reduction targets and pay what we owe to global climate funds.”

Mr Johnson, ousted in the summer after Mr Sunak and other ministers resigned, told Sky News that the summit hosted in the UK had been a “fantastic global success” which did “a huge amount of good for the planet”.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma said he was “delighted” at the new prime minister’s U-turn over Cop27 after saying he was “disappointed” over his planned failure to attend.

The outgoing climate minister has said the government should think again about plans to open Britain’s first new coal mine in a generation in Cumbria.

Mr Sunak said “a significant proportion of this coal that’s generated would be exported”, telling Politico: “My personal opinion on this is that I think if this is about creating jobs, then … you can create a lot more jobs doing this in green sectors.”

Lord Deben, the government’s top adviser as chair of the Climate Change Committee, told The Independent at the weekend that Britain’s year of global climate leadership fell short on multiple fronts.

Britain’s own bid to tackle emissions was “off track”, said Lord Deben, adding that the turmoil at the top of government had meant that the UK had failed to lead “anybody” on the issue in recent months.

Activist Greta Thunberg said she would not be going to Cop27 because of the country’s record on human rights record. She also dismissed the conference as an opportunity for leaders to indulge in “greenwashing, lying and cheating”.


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