UK environment minister says COP27 'just a gathering in Egypt' after Sunak snubs conference

UK environment minister says COP27 'just a gathering in Egypt' after Sunak snubs conference
2 min read
28 October, 2022
Conservative Party MPs and ministers have spoken out to defend Rishi Sunak's decision not to attend the COP27 summit next month, amid accusations that the PM had dismissed the importance of climate change.
Therese Coffey said the conference is 'not quite the same level' as COP26 had been [Getty]

Britain’s environment minister has defended Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision not to go to the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt next month, saying that the meeting will not be on the same scale as last year's COP26 conference in Glasgow.

Sunak announced on Tuesday that he will not be attending the conference, drawing criticism from opposition lawmakers and activists.

"Normally, the big COPs tend to be every five years, the United Kingdom hosted that last year where we had attendance from many members of the royal family, but in between it tends to be - I’m not going to say low key - but not quite the same level of heads of state and prime ministers attending," Environment Minister Therese Coffey said in an interview with Sky News on Friday.

In a separate interview with LBC radio, Coffey said: "The UK continues to show global leadership as opposed to just a gathering of people in Egypt."

Former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg also spoke out to defend the premier's decision, drawing attention to domestic affairs.

"The Prime Minister is right not to go to COP. The cost of living won’t be solved in Sharm el Sheikh where each hotel room for the conference is £2,000 a night," Rees-Mogg tweeted.

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Sunak's snub of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference drew accusations that the new prime minister had downgraded the importance of climate change, amid stark warnings from the UN on climate change targets.

On Thursday, the United Nations Environment Programme warned that there was currently "no credible pathway to 1.5C in place", referring to legally binding promises made at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference on temperature rises.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Coffey also addressed speculation on whether King Charles III would reconsider his decision not to attend COP27.

"The government doesn’t have a view on whether the king should go or not, it’s a matter for the king," Coffey said.

Egypt on Tuesday renewed its invitation to King Charles III, whose plans to attend had reportedly been quashed by former prime minister Liz Truss.

Cairo has said that more than 90 heads of state and government have confirmed they will attend the summit.