The United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader, Rishi Sunak, announced on 28 October his decision to not attend COP27, the annual climate summit hosted by Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh starting 6 November 2022.
The reasoning behind Sunak’s decision is to focus on “other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget,” reports the BBC.
Sunak’s decision received backlash from opposition parties and environmental groups deem the decision a “failure of leadership” that shows that the PM is not sufficiently invested in the issue of climate change.
Further backlash followed after Downing Street’s confirmation that King Charles will still not attend COP27. King Charles, who is a long-known environmentalist, had been already restricted from attending by Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss after concluding it was not the right occasion for his first formal event as the UK’s sovereign.
Truss – who with 45 days in power became the shortest-serving PM in the history of the UK after a “chaotic” set of economic policies that saw the British Pound plummet – had previously announced her intentions to visit the conference prior to resigning from the position.
Sunak’s cabinet has also displayed apathy towards this year’s edition of the world’s largest climate change summit. Environment secretary Therese Coffey publicly dismissed the importance of the event during an interview with LBC News, describing the summit as “just a gathering of people in Egypt.”
Despite Coffey’s disregard for the event, she will be attending in place of Sunak, along with Alok Sharma, who was the previous COP President during last year’s Glasgow Summit in the UK.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposing Labour Party, tweeted: “Britain showing up to work with world leaders is an opportunity to grasp. Not an event to shun.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had previously extended his congratulations to Sunak on becoming the UK’s new leader, expressing his interest in bolstering cooperation and bilateral relations.
With COP27 a week away, it seems that Al-Sisi will have to wait further to formally meet Sunak.
Subscribe to the Egyptian Streets’ weekly newsletter! Catch up on the latest news, arts & culture headlines, exclusive features and more stories that matter, delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.