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Rishi Sunak departs 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. PA

British PM Rishi Sunak makes sudden u-turn on attending Cop27 climate summit in Egypt

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the u-turn.

BRITISH PRIME MINITER Rishi Sunak has reversed his decision to skip the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt next week, bowing to pressure from activists, his own environment adviser and former PM Boris Johnson.

Sunak accepted there is “no long-term prosperity without action on climate change” as he confirmed he will attend the UN talks in Sharm El Sheikh that start on Sunday.

The British prime minister had been declining to go, arguing that he needed to focus on the “depressing domestic challenges” as he worked on the autumn Budget with chancellor Jeremy Hunt.

Downing Street said he changed his mind after making “good progress” ahead of the financial statement, but Labour accused Sunak of having been “dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing”.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma, who will be handing over the UK’s presidency to Egypt at the summit, said he is “delighted” about the u-turn, having previously expressed his disappointment.

Sunak announced his attendance the morning after Johnson, one of his predecessors in No 10, confirmed he will be joining the talks in Egypt.

“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change,” Sunak tweeted.

“There is no energy security without investing in renewables.

“That is why I will attend @COP27P next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

Johnson chose not to publicly criticise Sunak’s initial refusal to attend, but said in an interview broadcast yesterday evening that he will be attending to discuss “how we see things in the UK” given he has a “particular interest”.

“I was invited by the Egyptians so I’m very happy to go,” he told Sky News.

It was only on Friday that Sunak was arguing to broadcasters that he was “focusing on the depressing domestic challenges we have with the economy” as he sought to justify not attending.

“I think that’s what people watching would reasonably expect me to be doing as well,” he said.

However, the u-turn has been welcomed by Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who labelled it a “good decision”.

Meanwhile, the Government at home has signed off on Ireland’s agenda at Cop27 in Egypt next week.

It’s understood that the memo outlined the Government’s plans and priorities for the UN’s climate conference.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan is expected to attend the event and Cabinet also signed off on allowing Ryan authority to support international climate initiatives.

The key day for world leaders at Cop27 is Monday, when high-level talks are scheduled, and US president Joe Biden is expected to attend.

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