Coffey signals U-turn after hinting at Charles COP27 attendance

Therese Coffey asked if King Charles will attend COP27

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Environment Secretary Therese Coffey refused to rule another Government U-turn this morning as she was questioned on King Charles’ attending COP27. There were reports that former Prime Minister Liz Truss had advised the King, who is famously passionate about environmental issues, not to attend the conference in Egypt next month. However, speaking to Sky News this morning, Ms Coffey signalled a softening of the Government’s stance on his attendance.

This comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sparked criticism for announcing that he would not be going.

When pressed whether Mr Sunak would reverse Ms Truss’ decision on the King, Ms Coffey told Sky News’ Anna Jones that “it is up to the King if he wants to attend COP27”.

She said: “I’m not aware that Liz ever advised the King of that.

“But I’m conscious that King Charles has always taken a deep interest in the environment and climate change.

“Of course, it is up to him where he chooses to put his priorities in his reign as King.”

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The Cabinet minister added: “I think, normally the big COPs tend to be every five years.

“The UK hosted that last year, where we saw attendance from many members of the Royal Family.

“But the years in between those big events tend to be more low-key.

“I think it is up to him. I know he takes an interest in his issue, so it is up to him.”

She also defended the Prime Minister’s decision to snub COP27, saying that she was not aware that US President Joe Biden or French President Emmanuel Macron were attending.

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Downing Street said Mr Sunak had “other pressing domestic commitments including preparations for the autumn Budget”.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the UK would be represented by outgoing COP president Alok Sharma, and other ministers.

Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss had been due to attend the conference.

In response to the decision, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “Britain showing up to work with world leaders is an opportunity to grasp. Not an event to shun.”

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, is set to be held from 6 to 18 November in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

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America’s special envoy on climate change John Kerry said a U-turn on Charles’ attendance would send a “very powerful” message.

In an interview with Sky News on Thursday, Mr Kerry said: “I think it would be terrific, personally.

“I know that his being there would make a difference because he has credibility because he’s been a long-term leader. I think it would be very powerful.”

On Thursday a UN report warned there is “no credible pathway” to keep the rise in global temperatures below a key threshold of 1.5C.

Scientists believe that going beyond 1.5C would see dangerous impacts on people all over the world.

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