Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will block King Charles from attending Cop 27 climate summit next weekend
Rishi Sunak is standing by predecessor Liz Truss’s decision to stop King Charles from attending the Cop 27 climate summit in Egypt next month, despite him ‘champing at the bit’ to go.
The new Prime Minister has been accused of a ‘massive failure of leadership’ after himself deciding not take part in the event, despite Truss having planned to travel to represent the UK there. Critics say it calls the new PM’s climate stance into question.
Sunak is reportedly under pressure to let the King attend and allies have suggested he should let Charles go to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to combating climate change in the Prime Minister’s absence.
Charles is said to be disappointed not to go, but understands his attendance would need the blessing of the government and will not force the issue with No10, The Times reported.
A source told the newspaper: ‘He will be champing at the bit but knows it would need government blessing. The PM has reversed the fracking decision so this could be another smart environmentally focused move.’
King Charles, who holds climate issues close to his heart, also hopes to find a way to show his support, potentially through a message or convening discussions via video-link or telephone, The Telegraph reported.
Rishi Sunak is standing by predecessor Liz Truss’s decision to stop the King from attending the Cop 27 climate summit in Egypt next month despite him ‘champing at the bit’ to go
The new Prime Minister has been accused of a ‘massive failure of leadership’ after deciding not take part in the event despite Truss having planned to travel to represent the UK there
The news comes as Downing Street yesterday admitted for the first time that the King was advised not to attend the summit under Truss’s administration.
Aides said he is mindful of his new constitutional role as monarch and understands that a short trip to Egypt would not be appropriate for his first state visit abroad.
They made clear the environment remains a top priority for himself and his family.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said Government advice was sought, as is ‘standard practice’, and it was agreed it was not the ‘right occasion’ for Charles to visit in person.
She added that she is ‘not aware’ that the advice has changed.
‘As is standard practice, Government advice was sought and provided under a previous PM, and it was unanimously agreed that it would not be the right occasion for the King to visit in person,’ she said.
‘I’m not aware that that advice has changed but obviously any confirmation of the King’s travel would be for the Palace.’
Asked if there are any plans for the conversation between the Palace and the Government to reopen, she said again that she is not aware the advice has changed.
Charles is said to be disappointed not to go, but understands his attendance would need the blessing of the government and will not force the issue with No10
The summit’s Egyptian organisers have claimed about 90 heads of state had so far confirmed their attendance, with President Biden and President Macron expected to go.
The Red Sea gathering will come 12 months after the UK hosted the Cop-26 summit in Glasgow, which was attended by a string of Cabinet ministers – including Mr Sunak himself as Chancellor.
Confirming Mr Sunak won’t be attending this year’s follow-up summit, a No10 spokeswoman said: ‘The PM is not expected to attend Cop27 and this is due to other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the Autumn budget.
‘The UK will be fully represented by other senior ministers as well as the Cop President Alok Sharma.’
Downing Street insisted the PM remained ‘absolutely committed’ to supporting the climate conference and denied his decision to skip the summit signalled a downgrading of climate issues as a Government priority.
The No10 spokeswoman added: ‘We remain committed to net zero and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change.
‘The UK is forging ahead of many other countries on net zero.
‘We will obviously continue to work closely with Egypt as the hosts of Cop-27 and to make sure that all countries are making progress on the historic commitments they made at the Glasgow climate pact.’
Sunak is reportedly under pressure to let the King attend and allies have suggested he should let Charles go to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to combating climate change
Last year’s Cop-26 summit in Glasgow was attended by a string of Cabinet ministers – including Mr Sunak himself as Chancellor
Despite the PM’s focus on the upcoming Autumn budget on November 17, Mr Sunak has been telling world leaders in phone calls this week he is looking forward to seeing them in person at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, scheduled for November 15 and 16.
Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak’s non-attendance at Cop-27 ‘a massive failure of leadership’.
‘We were the Cop-26 hosts and now the UK Prime Minister isn’t even bothering to turn up to Cop-27,’ he added.
‘What Rishi Sunak obviously fails to understand is that tackling the climate crisis isn’t just about our reputation and standing abroad, but the opportunities for lower bills, jobs, and energy security it can deliver at home.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘Rishi Sunak does not speak for the British people by refusing to take climate change seriously.
‘He has failed to rule out a new ban on onshore wind, failed to help households make their homes warmer and is now failing to attend the Cop summit.
‘It flies in the face of the UK’s proud tradition of leading the world in our response to the climate change.’
Green MP Caroline Lucas posted on Twitter: ‘Shame on him.’
Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband branded Mr Sunak’s non-attendance ‘a massive failure of leadership’.
Darren Jones, the Labour chair of the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, also criticised Mr Sunak over his downgrading of Government climate roles.
He tweeted: ‘In week one, Rishi Sunak has demoted both Cabinet-level roles leading on climate change.
‘COP26 President and climate change minister now deemed to be a junior ministerial issue.
‘Not a surprise from the former Chancellor who couldn’t bring himself to say “benefits of net zero”.’
Environment Secretary Therese Coffey defended Sunak’s decision not to attend by saying the ‘big political’ summits take place every five years.
She insisted the climate issue is ‘very much a priority’ for the new Government despite climate minister Graham Stuart and Cop26 President Alok Sharma being stripped of their Cabinet seats.
‘The big push happened last year in Glasgow,’ she told Sky News.
‘I am not aware of, say, President Biden or President Macron or any of those other people will be there. It is quite standard practice that every five years is the big political gathering.’
She said ‘several senior Government ministers’ will be attending the summit in Egypt next month.