UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Wednesday that he will be attending next week’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt, following widespread criticism of his previous decision not to.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables,” tweeted Sunak.
“That is why I will attend @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future,” the post ends.
Last week a Downing Street spokesperson said that Sunak was not expected to attend the climate summit due to “other pressing commitments,” including preparations for the government’s autumn budget.
That decision drew strong criticism from politicians and climate campaigners. Leader of the opposition Labour Party Keir Starmer said on Twitter that it was “not an event to shun,” posting Wednesday that “caving in to criticism is not leadership” and that the prime minister’s reversal was “political management.”
Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News Tuesday he would be attending COP27, adding to the pressure on Sunak.
Green Party MP and former co-leader of the party Caroline Lucas tweeted: “Glad to see Sunak’s screeching U-turn on #COP27, but what an embarrassing mis-step on the world stage. Let this be a lesson to him - climate leadership matters.”
Rachel Kennerley, an international climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth, a network of environmental organizations, said it would have been a “remarkable own goal” to miss the summit.
“It’s good that he’s seen sense and decided to attend,” she said in a news release, adding that the UK government has much to do in rebuilding its climate reputation after rowing back commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow last year.
“Simply showing up won’t be enough,” Kennerley stated.
During his eight days in 10 Downing Street, Sunak has retracted previous Prime Minister Liz Truss’s decision to lift the ban on fracking. Last month, a debate on the controversial energy resource allegedly provoked physical altercations among members of her Conservative Party, a day before she resigned.
Kennerley said that this reverse was a good start for his leadership, but that he must also scrap plans for deep coal mining, and oil and gas from the North Sea.
COP27 starts November 6 in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.