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 Boris Johnson.
The Prime Minister 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.
Mr Sunak 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 the Prime Minister 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.
Lord Deben, the chairman of the UK’s independent Climate Change Committee, also said he is “pleased” Mr Sunak will be attending the summit.
But he warned the UK’s delivery on climate change has been “appalling”.
Mr Sunak announced his attendance the morning after Mr Johnson, one of his predecessors in No 10 and an enduring rival in the Conservative Party, confirmed he will be joining the talks in Egypt.
“There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change,” Mr 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.”