Ross Clark Ross Clark

Sunak is right to stay away from COP27

Downing Street said the PM will stay home to focus on 'pressing domestic commitments'

Rishi Sunak (Credit: Getty images)

Rishi Sunak deserves one of those ‘climate champion’ badges they hand out at primary schools. Why? Because he is not going to fly to the COP27 summit in Egypt – thereby saving 1.65 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to the World Land Trust’s carbon calculator. So what if Ed Miliband thinks it is a failure of leadership? There is no point in any UK Prime Minister travelling to any more of these summits when the world’s largest carbon emitters have made it perfectly plain that they have no intention of copying Britain’s example. They will not be putting themselves under legal commitment to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050 or any other hard date.

Xi Jinping, whose country is responsible for a third of the world’s emissions, won’t be going. Joe Biden will be there to earn his brownie points, but we know what to expect after he turned up last year in Air Force One, took a cavalcade of 21 vehicles from Edinburgh airport and then appeared to fall asleep during the conference. He wouldn’t even sign a document committing the US to phase out coal power by 2030 – six years after Britain’s last coal-fired station will close. 

Biden isn’t going to be legally committing to net zero any more than Donald Trump did. All he has done is make a non-binding pledge to reduce emissions by 50 per cent and signed a climate bill which is really just protectionism is disguise, for example offering bungs to buyers of US-made electric cars.

At some point either Sunak is going to have to admit that the legal commitment to net zero by 2050 is a hostage to fortune

Even those countries which have followed Britain into making a legal commitment to net zero seem to be taking it a lot less seriously than we are.

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