“If we’re really saying that in the sixth richest country in the world that our Prime Minister can’t be bothered to get there because he’s busy, what about all of those prime ministers in countries that are absolutely on the front edge of the climate emergency right now?” – Caroline Lucas MP
Boris Johnson ‘planning to attend Cop27’ as criticism of Rishi Sunak climate summit snub grows.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain www.independent.co.uk
Boris Johnson is reportedly planning to attend Cop27, as criticism of Rishi Sunak’s snub of the key climate event grows.
Downing Street confirmed this week the new Prime Minister will not be in Egypt for the summit, as he was prioritising the autumn budget instead.
That decision has been widely denounced, with claims it shows a ‘lack of leadership’ on such a significant global issue.
And now The Observer claims that Mr Johnson is planning on going instead, though in what capacity is not yet clear.
It comes just days after Mr Johnson ruled out joining the race to replace Liz Truss, abandoning a second attempt at running the country three months after he was ousted by his own MPs.
Attendance at the climate conference has been contentious, with former PM Liz Truss advising King Charles against going despite his well-known interest in environmental campaigns. Though she has since resigned, her successor Mr Sunak has upheld this advice to the new monarch.
Instead, the King will host a reception at Buckingham Palace for business leaders, NGOs and experts ahead of Cop27, it has been confirmed.
The reception is seen as a compromise between the Palace and Downing Street, allowing the King to still show his solidarity with the battle against climate crisis.
Mr Sunak, meanwhile, faces continuing criticism for his decision to miss the key event.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for climate change, said it was an “embarrassing reflection” of the government’s failure to deliver on its Cop26 commitments. “This is a massive failure of climate leadership,” he added.
And speaking on Sunday, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the decision was “disgraceful”.
Asked about reports Mr Johnson could attend the summit, she told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme: “I think this is probably about the first decision that Boris Johnson has made that I might support.
“If it embarrasses Rishi Sunak to reverse his disgraceful decision and actually get there himself, all and good.
“I’m not suggesting necessarily that Boris Johnson is doing it for the good of the planet, I suspect a great deal of self-promotion is going in there as well, but let’s take it, let’s have him go there.
“It is absolutely so wrong that Rishi Sunak is not going because the UK is still the holder of the Cop presidency, symbols matter.
“If we’re really saying that in the sixth richest country in the world that our Prime Minister can’t be bothered to get there because he’s busy, what about all of those prime ministers in countries that are absolutely on the front edge of the climate emergency right now?”
When asked about reports of Mr Johnson’s alleged attendance at the summit, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Government is absolutely committed to supporting COP27 and leading international action to tackle climate change and protect nature.
“The UK will be fully represented by senior ministers, including the Foreign, Business and Environment Secretaries as well as COP President Alok Sharma.
“They will be working to ensure that countries continue to make progress on the ground-breaking commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow.”