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Cop27: UK PM Sunak to attend summit in Egypt after U-turn

The conference takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on 26 October 2022 (AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on 26 October 2022 (AFP)

Rishi Sunak will attend the Cop27 United Nations climate change conference in Egypt next week, reversing an earlier decision not to go. 

Last week, 10 Downing Street said the new UK prime minister would not attend the summit, which takes place in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from 7-18 November, due to “other pressing domestic commitments”. 

However on Wednesday he tweeted: “There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables.”

“That is why I will attend Cop27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow's [Cop26] legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.”

This year’s event will take place amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech.

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Residents in Sharm el-Sheikh and its surrounding areas have told MEE that the area had turned into what looks like "a war zone", with draconian security measures allegedly aimed at protecting the event.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg announced on Sunday that she would not be attending due to human rights abuses in Egypt. 

“I'm not going to Cop27 for many reasons, but the space for civil society this year is extremely limited,” she said during a launch event for her new book The Climate Book at London’s Southbank Centre.

Earlier that day, she visited a sit-in outside the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London in solidarity with Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a British-Egyptian writer imprisoned in Egypt. 

The family of Abd el-Fattah, an icon of the 2011 Egyptian revolution who has spent eight out of the past 10 years in jail on various charges, have called on Sunak to bring up his case ahead of the summit. 

Abd el-Fattah launched a partial hunger strike on 2 April, consuming no more than 100 calories daily, to pressure authorities to release him from prison and allow him to travel to Britain. 

Earlier this week, he announced in a letter to his mother that he intends to escalate his hunger strike and refuse any food or drink as of 7 November, in time for the climate conference.

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