UK Embarrasses Itself on World Stage
Are we taking climate change seriously? King Charles has been stopped from attending COP27 and now Rishi Sunak is not planning on going either. Since he’s become Prime Minister, he hasn’t overruled Liz Truss’ decision to stop the King from attending the climate change summit in Egypt. Now he’s taken over from the car crash that was the shortest-serving prime minister, Sunak is instead staying behind to sort out the state of the economy ahead of the autumn budget.
But is this a good message to be sending the rest of the world? That the sixth richest country can’t be bothered to turn up and come together with other world leaders about the most important crisis we face? If anything, it demonstrates a failure of climate leadership. Despite the fact that other members of the government will be attending COP27, it’s the symbolism of our country that matters. Neither our leader nor our Head of State are attending this important summit.
While diehard defenders of the government are spouting climate-friendly discourse, it doesn’t set a good precedent. Thérèse Coffey, equivocal as always, believes Sunak is showing global leadership rather than simply going to “a gathering of people in Egypt”, but does it pay to downplay the importance of the conference when it’s so high on the public’s mind?
The King and the Prime Minister have come up with a sort of compromise though. As the environment is close to King Charles and his personal values, he’s hosting his own event at Buckingham Palace on Friday 4th November. Attendees include Rishi Sunak, COP President Alok Sharma and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry. It will aim to bring together over 200 international business leaders, decision makers and non-governmental organisations to discuss issues ahead of COP27. Described as King Charles’ revenge against the Prime Minister, the King will meet and speak to guests about climate change and ways in which they can implement change.
Due to the mounting pressure, Boris Johnson is now bizarrely attending COP27, most likely in a self-serving bid, but also in a way to ease the lack of environmental leadership claims against the Conservatives. Recently, the environment minister, Mark Spencer, has said that Sunak will go “if his diary allows”, which hints at the potential for a government staple u-turn. The Prime Minister may be able to attend the climate conference if he stops being chancellor and starts taking climate issues seriously.