LONDON – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not attend a major United Nations climate conference next month, the government said Thursday.
Sunak’s office said the decision was made because of “pressing domestic commitments” including preparations for an emergency budget on Nov. 17 and does not reflect a downgrade in the Conservative government’s commitment to combating climate change. Other senior U.K. government ministers are expected to attend.
Sunak took office on Tuesday, replacing Liz Truss, who stepped down after a seven-week term in which her tax-cutting plans sparked economic and political mayhem.
Officials from almost 200 countries are due to gather in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, starting Nov. 6 to discuss how to tackle global warming at the conference known as COP27. Britain hosted last year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which was attended by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
A Sunak spokeswoman said Britain remained committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, “and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change.”
Opposition Labour Party spokesman Ed Miliband said Sunak had made “a terrible decision.”
“These summits matter,” he told the BBC. “They are forcing mechanisms for action on the biggest issue we face as a world.”
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