There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change, PM says

The prime minister will now attend next week’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt, reversing his previous decision not to go.

Rishi Sunak said last week that he would not fly to Sharm El Sheikh for the United Nations conference as he wanted to focus on preparing for the Budget on 17 November. The move was widely criticised by construction industry groups and politicians, including the current COP president Alok Sharma.

The UK is due to hand over the presidency at the conference having hosted COP26 in Glasgow last November.

>> Also read: How construction can help to save the world

Sunak nov flickr

Rishi Sunak had initially said he would not attend next week’s COP27 summit

Sunak said: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables.

“That is why I will attend COP27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said she was “glad to see Sunak’s screeching U-turn”. The prime minister’s initial decision had been an “embarrassing mis-step on the world stage”, she added.

“Let this be a lesson to him - climate leadership matters. Now he urgently needs to increase UK ambition on emission reduction targets and pay what we owe to global climate funds,” she said.

Sunak was reported yesterday to be considering attending the conference. RIBA president Simon Allford had urged the prime minister to attend the summit, saying that it was “crucial that the UK government demonstrates that creating a more sustainable future… is at the top of its agenda”.

On Monday, Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts said it would be a “dreadful example of short-sightedness” if Sunak did not go.

The conference will run from 6 to 18 November and is expected to focus on reducing emissions, helping countries prepare for and deal with climate change, and securing technical support for developing countries.

Last year’s summit in Glasgow secured a major agreement on accelerating the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies and phasing down the use of coal.