Sunday, February 5News For London

Global criticism as Rishi Sunak remains indecisive about attendance at COP27

Following the global anger stirred by Rishi Sunak’s statement of absence from COP27, his official spokesman said the Prime Minister might change his mind and attend this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Climate protester at the Palace of Westminster / PC: Fatou Jobe

On October 27th, the Prime Minister said he would not attend Egypt’s U.N. COP27 climate summit. A spokeswoman for No.10 highlighted that his absence would be due to “pressing domestic commitments”a statement that led to global anger.

Citizens and local and foreign government members pointed out that the summit should be among the prime minister’s priorities. Otherwise, the UK’s stance on climate change could be questioned, especially with Shell admitting last week it had paid no windfall tax despite its record profits. Additionally, the UK is the current holder of the COP presidency, which reinforces the importance of the country’s involvement in the fight against climate change.

Instead of travelling to Egypt for the conference, Sunak stated he would speak at a reception for business and environmental leaders hosted at Buckingham Palace.

Despite this announcement, global leaders have expressed their disappointment towards Sunak’s decision. Mohamed Nasheed, speaker of the Maldives parliament and former president, said: “[It’s] very worrying that the UK thought there was anything more serious than climate change. You can count the pennies but might lose the pounds.”

British citizens have also raised concerns about the UK’s role in the fight against climate change. An anonymous woman protesting in front of the British Parliament told Westminster World: “[Sunak’s] only interest is money making. Money can be replaced but our planet can’t.”

Anonymous climate activist criticizing Sunak’s decision to skip COP27 / PC: Alexia Georgieva

Following the wave of criticism received by the prime minister, his official spokesman said, on Monday, that Sunak’s position was “under review” meaning that he might change his mind and take part in the climate summit.

Although many believe that summits like COP27 can elicit change, others think these conferences are only talks resulting in no action. Robert, a Londoner, had written on a protest board all the pressing issues discussed by governments at COP26 held in Glasgow last year. From melting ice caps to hot summers and loss of wildlife, Robert explained that he had been following the progress of all actions and solutions proposed, but no progress was made. He also added that climate summits are insufficient to solve the pressing global climate issues.