UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to snub the upcoming COP27 UN climate talks in Egypt, and to keep King Charles III from attending, has angered and upset countries around the world, risking Britain’s standing on the world stage and raising concerns over his government’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis, a media report said.
Several developing countries told the Guardian of their dismay.
Carlos Fuller, Belize’s Ambassador to the UN, said: “I can understand why the king was asked not to attend, keeping him out of the fray. However, as the principal UK policymaker and the COP26 President, the Prime Minister should have led the summit.
“It seems as if they are washing their hands of leadership.”
Sunak’s reason for not going was also questioned, said the Guardian report.
Mohamed Nasheed, the speaker of the Maldivian 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 pounds.
Developed countries were also concerned. One senior government aide said: “It appears as if the new UK Prime Minister wants to wash his hands of the previously strong role the government played on international climate action. It’s another stab in the back for (COP26 President Alok) Sharma.”
The COP26 talks in Glasgow last November, headed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chaired by a cabinet minister, Alok Sharma, ended with a global consensus on limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius for the first time, a major diplomatic achievement that was widely lauded.
Sunak had attended and led discussions on climate finance, likely to be a major issue at COP27, the Guardian reported.
Instead of attending the climate summit, Sunak will speak at a reception for business and environmental leaders to be hosted by the King at Buckingham Palace on Friday, two days before COP27 begins.
But his failure to attend the talks has raised concerns over the UK’s stance on the climate crisis, with the government handing out new oil and gas licenses and tax breaks for increasing fossil fuel production.