Sunak in a pickle over plan not to attend COP27
The newly-appointed British Prime Minister announces that he will not be attending the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
After announcing Thursday that he will not attend next month's COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt due to "pressing domestic commitments," newly-appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing condemnation and criticism from opposition politicians and environmentalist organizations.
Last year, the United Kingdom hosted the COP26, stressing the important role that global leaders play as they met last year to discuss climate change against a backdrop of failures to meet carbon reduction targets.
Read next: The Importance and Disappointments of COP26 Climate Summit
The decision came the same day the United Nations issued warnings that countries' climate pledges are raising the head to a disastrous 2.6 degrees Celsius this century, after agreeing on a 1.5 degrees Celsius target last year. The decision was also followed by Downing Street's barring of COP26 minister Alok Sharma and climate minister Graham Stuart from attending the cabinet.
Truss, who was pushed to resign after problematic policies she and her administration were advocating for, was going to attend the climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, according to British media outlets.
"This is a massive failure of climate leadership," said Ed Miliband, the main opposition Labour party's former leader and now climate change spokesman. "We were the COP26 hosts and now the UK prime minister isn't even bothering to turn up."
Read next: UK failed to protect people from climate change: Expert
Head of politics at Greenpeace UK, Rebecca Newsom, said, "Coming just after the ousting of Alok Sharma from the cabinet, this suggests that the new prime minister neither takes the climate crisis seriously enough, nor recognizes the opportunities for Britain to take a leadership role in helping to solve it."
Reinstating the fracking ban
In a political U-turn, Sunak on Wednesday reinstated a nationwide ban on fracking, dropping a previous pledge to permit the practice that Truss enacted during her 45-day reign.
The British Conservative party introduced a prohibition, though temporary, on gas fracking in England after sticking to a 2019 ban, which saw them elected with an 80-seat majority.
"I stand by the manifesto on that," Sunak said. "We will deliver on what we said at COP because we care deeply about passing our children an environment in a better state than we found it ourselves."
His official spokesperson also affirmed the decision, telling reporters that Sunak was "committed to delivering on the promise of the manifesto" that banned fracking.
Greenpeace UK gave the decision a nod. "We welcome this decision and urge Sunak to also halt all new licenses for oil and gas exploration," it tweeted.