UK's King Charles and Truss should attend Cop27, says Alok Sharma

Cop26 president says both should attend the summit in Egypt in November

Cop26 President Alok Sharma. AFP
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Cabinet minister Alok Sharma has urged British Prime Minister Liz Truss to attend next month’s Cop27 climate summit and allow King Charles to go too, in the latest sign of growing divisions at the top of the UK government.

Mr Sharma broke ranks as concerns grow that Britain's focus on tackling climate change is easing under the new team.

The Sunday Times revealed that the prime minister had advised the king not to attend the meeting and has come under pressure this week to say whether she will visit the climate talks in Egypt.

“We haven’t set out these details yet,” Ms Truss’s representative said on Monday when asked if she would join other world leaders at the conference in Sharm El Sheikh although by Wednesday there were reports that she had decided to attend.

“I would like the prime minister to go to Cop27," Mr Sharma told the BBC's The World Tonight programme on Tuesday . Mr Sharma was president of the climate summit hosted by the UK in Glasgow almost a year ago.

"It would cement the leadership position that the UK has on this incredibly important world issue," he said.

It was crucial that she emulated Boris Johnson by being present in person, Mr Sharma said.

“This is absolutely an issue that transcends politics," he said from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"I mean, this is ultimately about ensuring that we protect our planet for future generations.

“I would certainly welcome the king’s attendance at Cop27. I know that many people around the world see him as a leader in this area."

He was supported by Asia minister Zac Goldsmith, who tweeted that Mr Sharma was right. "What the UK achieved at COP26 was a triumph of diplomacy and was celebrated around the world," he wrote. "The UK Presidency continues until COP27 so of course it makes sense for both the King and the PM to attend."

Ms Truss's authority has been challenged this week when colleagues in the Conservative Party rebelled during its annual party conference. Former Cabinet members Michael Gove and Grant Shapps effectively forced a U-turn on tax policy, leading to accusations of a coup from new Home Secretary Suella Braverman, while Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has spoken out about concerns of cuts to benefits.

Cop26: the UN climate conference explained - video

Patricia Espinosa, who was the UN’s climate chief for six years until she stepped down in July, echoed Mr Sharma’s call for Ms Truss to attend the climate summit.

“It is really a moment when we should be seeing unity of purpose,” Ms Espinoza said.

She said she was concerned the Cop27 summit would suffer from a lack of world leaders attending.

Ms Espinosa said that progress made at the Glasgow summit last November was “very clearly, not good”, particularly when it came to a commitment to greater ambition in curbing emissions.

She said many countries were failing to deliver on the promises they made.

World leaders from US President Joe Biden to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended last year’s Cop26.

Almost 200 countries committed to reducing their emissions, which would put the world back on track for the 1.5ºC climate goal it set under the Paris Agreement.

There are fears that international attention has been diverted from tackling climate issues this year by the war in Ukraine.

Updated: October 05, 2022, 7:34 AM