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Rishi Sunak calls for a speedier transition to renewable energy

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At COP27, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will call on international leaders to advance the switch to renewable energy “further and faster.” Mr. Sunak reversed his earlier decision not to attend and will now go to Egypt for the UN climate meeting on Sunday. He will remark in his speech on Monday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “confirmed” the need to get off fossil fuels. COP27 comes after a year of extreme weather and climate-related events. The prime minister will also urge the world leaders assembled in Sharm el-Sheikh to uphold the promises made at the COP26 meeting held in Glasgow last year to avoid global temperature increases of 1.5C over pre-industrial levels.

The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) secretary general, Petteri Taalas, has cautioned that the 1.5C objective is “just within reach.” He made this statement as a new UN research revealing that the rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993 was made public. The study has been dubbed a “chronicle of climate chaos” by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who has urged states to take “ambitious, credible climate action” in response to the planet’s “distress signal” at COP27. The issue of migrants traveling across the English Channel in small boats is likely to come up when Mr. Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron meet at the summit this week.

Before leaving, Mr. Sunak released the following statement: “Last year, when the world came together in Glasgow, governments agreed on a historic blueprint for averting catastrophic global warming. It is crucial that we keep our promises now more than ever. Fighting climate change is essential for our future prosperity and security, not merely as a matter of morality. “The necessity of ending our reliance on fossil fuels has only been emphasized by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and disgraceful manipulation of energy prices. “We need to switch to renewable energy farther and more quickly, and I’ll make sure the UK is leading the way as a superpower in clean energy.”

The prime minister had earlier this week changed his mind about going to the conference. Prior to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement on November 17, Mr. Sunak had first said he would not go to Egypt, citing the need to close a £50 billion budget gap as his top priority. The prime minister “dithered,” according to Ed Miliband of Labour, about going to the climate summit, and “Britain needs to be in the climate leadership business.” The shadow climate change secretary said it was now “cheaper to save the planet than to destroy it” on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. He added that there was a current energy problem and that renewable energy sources were now far more affordable than fossil fuels.

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Switching to renewable energy, according to Mr. Miliband, was “the chance of the future” and was the “message we should be sending to COP.” Alok Sharma, the president of COP26, and several colleagues harshly criticized Mr. Sunak’s initial choice to skip the summit along with other environmental activists and opposition parties. Oliver Dowden, a minister in the Cabinet, supported the leader and said he was “dedicated” to environmental concerns. When Mr. Sunak took office, the economic crisis was his top concern, but Mr. Dowden told Laura Kuenssberg that he had worked on the Autumn Statement “to make sure he can go to this meeting.” Mr. Dowden was also questioned over the human rights record of the host nation, Egypt, as well as the arrest of activist and British citizen Alaa Abd El-Fattah, who has been imprisoned for nine years and is currently on a hunger strike.

The cabinet minister responded, “I’m confident he will address it at suitable forums,” when asked if the prime minister will bring up Abdel Fattah’s situation while at the summit. It is a “really serious issue,” according to Mr. Miliband of Labour, and he will “make sure to address it with the Egyptians while I’m there.” The activist’s situation is “a priority for the British government both as a human rights advocate and as a British national,” the prime minister promised in a letter to Abdel Fattah’s family. Sanaa Seif, Abdel Fattah’s sister, expressed concern over the timing of the engagement between No. 10 and Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the president of Egypt, on Sky News. She expressed concern that her brother would pass away during the climate meeting and demanded that the British government “be responsible for delivering us proof of life.”

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The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no more new fossil fuel development if the 1.5C target is to be fulfilled, yet the government has come under fire for allowing new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea. Mr. Sunak is anticipated to preside over a gathering of international leaders to advance the Glasgow Declaration, which was signed by 100 nations, to halt and reverse deforestation and destructive land use by 2030. Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, expressed doubt about the outcome of this week’s climate summit. He told Laura Kuenssberg, “I don’t think there has been the leadership, either from our country or frankly from other countries.

The King, who spoke at COP26 last year and is well known for his fervent interest in environmental problems, will not be present at the meeting as a result of an agreement between Buckingham Palace and outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss. Downing Street claimed this week that if Mr. Sunak had been placed in No. 10 sooner, they could have reached a different conclusion. The most recent session of UN climate talks is taking place against a backdrop of increasingly severe global weather events, an energy crisis, and a rising cost of living due to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The COP27 agenda will place a focus on requests for emission reduction, assistance for nations dealing with climate change, and financing and technical assistance for developing nations. The UN has also cautioned that there is presently no realistic road to achieve the 1.5C goal designed to avoid the worst effects of global warming, based on countries’ most recent climate action plans. According to the UN, wealthy nations are still not doing enough to finance the adaptation of underdeveloped countries to climate change.

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