Downing Street has confirmed that King Charles has been advised not to attend the COP27 climate summit in Egypt next month – but Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said whether he attends is “depending on the climate”. into him”.
Downing Street previously declined to comment on reports that former prime minister Liz Truss had told the King not to go to next month’s summit during a meeting at Buckingham Palace in September.
However, on Friday, a Number 10 spokesman acknowledged that the king had been urged not to attend the United Nations conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The spokesman said it was “agreed” that King Charles, a longtime campaigner against climate change, would not attend.
“According to standard practice, government advice has been sought and provided under the previous Prime Minister and it was agreed that this would not be an appropriate occasion for the King to visit in person,” she said. .
“I don’t know that advice has changed but it is clear that any confirmation of the King’s trip will go to the Palace.”
However, earlier on Friday, Environment Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky News it was “up to him” whether the King attended.
“I am aware that King Charles has always cared deeply about the environment and climate change,” she said.
“Of course, it will be up to him to decide where he chooses to set his priorities during his reign as King.”
Ms Coffey added that “many members of the Royal Family” attended the summit in Glasgow last year.
“Major COPs” tend to happen every five years, she said, adding: “In the middle, though, it tends to be more – I wouldn’t say important – but not quite the same. heads of state. and prime ministers in attendance.”
Downing Street confirmed on Thursday that New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also not attend the climate summit in Egypt.
Former Prime Minister Ms. Truss is expected to attend.
No 10 insisted the government remained “absolutely committed” to leading international action on climate despite Mr Sunak’s absence.
Downing Street suggested that the public would expect Mr Sunak to be in the country to deal with the “serious economic challenges” facing the UK, rather than at the summit in Egypt.
Earlier this week, the new Prime Minister also demoted COP President Alok Sharma and Climate Minister Graham Stuart so that they could no longer attend cabinet meetings.
Labor Leader Sir Keir Starmer joined environmental campaigners in criticized Mr. Sunak’s decision to miss the conference.
“Britain’s arrival to work with world leaders is an opportunity to seize, not an event to shun,” he said.
Former Cabinet Minister Nadine Dorries agreed that Mr Sunak should attend the climate summit.
While Rebecca Newsom, head of politics for Greenpeace UK, said the move showed Mr Sunak was not taking climate change “seriously enough”.
However, in response, a No 10 spokesperson said: “The government remains absolutely committed to leading international and domestic actions to tackle climate change and protect nature.
“We are facing serious economic challenges. The prime minister is focused on solving those problems, and the public, I think, will also expect him to be in the country… with those challenges and ahead of the fall announcement”.
“But we’re also very clear that the public should also judge us by our actions, and we’re way ahead of many other countries in terms of net zero, for example.
“Of course, we will also have representatives at the senior ministerial level along with the foreign, business and environment secretaries, all of whom will be in attendance alongside the COP president.”
King Charles and Prince William both spoke at last year’s COP26 event, in which the Queen recorded the opening speech calling on world leaders to take action to tackle climate change.