COP27 Summit 2022: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was criticised for his decision to skip the COP27 summit scheduled to take place in Egypt next week. In a major U-turn, he said on Wednesday he will attend the climate summit.
Newly-elected British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak put an end to the speculation on whether he will attend the upcoming COP27 summit. He took to Twitter to announce: "I will attend @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow's legacy of building a secure and sustainable future."
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There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change.There is no 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.— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 2, 2022
Sunak's statement came after criticism grew over his refusal to attend this year's climate summit. According to a report in the Guardian, a cross-party group of parliamentarians, including several Tories, wrote to Sunak urging him to go to Egypt where the summit is taking place.
Last week, a Downing Street spokesperson had said that Sunak will not be attending the climate summit scheduled to take place next week. The official had cited "depressing domestic challenges" as the reason for the same.
"I'm very personally committed to it, and I just think at the moment it is right that I am also focusing on the pressing domestic challenges we have with the economy," Sunak had said earlier. Critics were quick to hit out, saying that climate crisis is important too.
Why Sunak's attendance at COP27 is important?
1. The prime minister was widely criticised for his decision to snub the summit keeping in view the urgent need to combat the climate emergency. The move also raised concerns over the UK’s stance on the climate crisis. Belize’s ambassador to the UN, Carlos Fuller, even accused the UK of "washing their hands of leadership".
Alok Sharma, who was president of COP26, had said he was "disappointed" by Sunak’s decision. Meanwhile, former chancellor George Osborne asked why the PM would "trash" the party’s record on the environment.
2. This COP might be seen as an opportunity for Sunak to "pull world leaders together". Criticising him, Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said, "Many people would be expecting the prime minister of the UK not just to attend COP but to use it as an opportunity to pull world leaders together," he said. "If that doesn't happen it's a failure of leadership."
According to reports, the prime minister would be expected to hold bilateral meetings with counterparts from across the world, with a special focus on the climate crisis and other issues including the Russia- Ukraine war and the global economic crisis.
3. Last COP summit was held in the UK and hence, the country still holds the presidency of the UN negotiations, until the reins are handed over to Egypt. therefore, the British government continues to hold a key position in the long-running climate talks.
4. The UK, among other countries, is facing a severe climate crisis. The warm and cold spells, droughts and wildfires experienced by the country's citizens are the results of the climate crisis. The MeT office of the UK projected that in the future, the country might see "warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers and more frequent and intense weather extremes".
Besides this, there are claims that the UK government had been reportedly "handing out new oil and gas licences and tax breaks for increasing fossil fuel production". This further raises concerns as the burning of possible fuels is among the key challenges when it comes to tackling the environmental crisis.
5. COP27 itself is of utmost importance at a time when the world is dealing with adverse climate change and energy crises due to the Russia-Ukraine war. This COP27 will focus on five key issues - nature, food, water, industry decarbonization and climate adaptation.
Several reports and analysis suggest that there's a need to reduce the gap between "the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) target and current policy ambitions". A United Nations report also points out that the scientific data reiterates that "the world is not doing enough to tackle carbon emissions and protect the future of our planet".
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According to the Presidential vision statement, COP27 will be about moving from negotiations, and "planning for implementation" for all these promises and pledges made. It is important for developing nations as they will try to get essential climate financing agreements passed to help them reduce their emissions in the coming years. This summit represents one of the "last chances to avert global catastrophe".
This year’s UN Climate Conference takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6 to 18. Instead of attending COP27, Sunak is expected to attend a reception for business and environmental leaders which will be hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace just two days before COP27 begins, the Guardian said.
Sunak rose to power as the UK PM after a dramatic turn of events. He replaced Liz Truss who had resigned after serving just seven weeks in office. Truss had announced her resignation following a major economic crisis which was triggered by economic policies by her government. These policies had left the markets in the doldrums, angering MPs as well.
(Edited by : Akriti Anand)
First Published: IST