COP27 host Egypt warns UK not to backtrack from climate agenda

Unusual diplomatic intervention prompted by fears over Liz Truss’s commitment to net zero.

Fiona Harvey and Ruth Michaelson for the Guardian

The Egyptian government, host of the next UN climate summit, has warned the UK against “backtracking from the global climate agenda”, in a significant intervention prompted by fears over Liz Truss’s commitment to net zero.

The warning before the Cop27 conference, which will take place in just over a month in Sharm el-Sheikh, to the host of Cop26, which took place in Glasgow last November, is highly unusual in diplomatic terms. The hosts of successive Cops are responsible for a smooth handover of the talks.

The intervention, sparked by reports that King Charles III has been effectively forbidden by the UK prime minister from attending Cop27, reflects fears among participants in the talks over a change of direction from Britain.

The previous prime minister, Boris Johnson, was regarded as a strong champion of the UK’s goal, shared with many other rich nations, of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But Truss, though she has said she supports the net zero target, has dismayed climate campaigners by offering more than 100 new licences for oil and gas in the North Sea, lifting the ban on fracking, and cancelling green regulations.

She may also fail to attend Cop27, a significant snub to the Egyptian hosts who are holding a leaders’ summit for heads of state and government as part of the conference.

The Egyptian government praised King Charles – who spoke at the start of the Paris climate summit in 2015, and was an important presence at Cop26 – as a champion of the environment, and pointedly re-extended an invitation to him.

A Cop27 spokesperson said: “The Cop president designate is disappointed by these reports [of Charles’s non-attendance at Cop27]. The Egyptian presidency of the climate conference acknowledges the longstanding and strong commitment of His Majesty to the climate cause, and believes that his presence would have been of great added value to the visibility of climate action at this critical moment. We hope that this doesn’t indicate that the UK is backtracking from the global climate agenda after presiding over Cop26.”

Read the full story via the Guardian here.