At the UN climate summit COP27, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cited the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its impact on the world to urge leaders to tackle climate change.
Leaders from 120 nations have gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss ways to tackle climate change and, in light of the energy crisis caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, to find ways to move away from reliance on Russian gas and oil.
Much focus was placed on Nord Stream 1, an underwater pipeline supplying European Union (EU) states with 35 percent of all the gas they import from Russia, which runs across the Baltic Sea to Germany.
Several pipeline leaks, speculated to have been caused deliberately, have further exasperated the supply of gas to Europe, with prices continuing to rise.
Russia has since accused Britain of carrying out an act of sabotage on Nord Stream 1, however this claim was dismissed by British officials as false and as being anti-west propaganda.
Initially there were doubts that the British Prime Minister would attend COP27, which followed controversy surrounding King Charles III’s apparent desire to give a speech to world leaders.
Traditionally, British Kings and Queens are expected to refrain from engaging in politics or from expressing personal opinions in public. After a public outcry, Sunak’s government confirmed that it had advised the monarch not to attend, but stressed that the decision would remain his.
After Buckingham Palace confirmed that King Charles would not be attending, Sunak eventually revealed he would go in his stead, praising the monarch for being “far-sighted” in his decades-long campaign to raise awareness of climate change.
“Climate and energy security go hand-in-hand,” Sunak said at the event on Monday evening, Nov. 7. “Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster.”
“We can bequeath our children a greener planet and a more prosperous future. There really is room for hope.”
Other world leaders and officials gave their own speeches, with French President Emmanuel Macron urging his counterparts to deliver “climate justice.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that switching to renewable energy was a “security policy imperative”, while Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni saying her country was “strongly committed” to achieving its goals to tackle climate change.
Meanwhile, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the event that countries should not “go weak and wobbly” in reducing carbon omissions and striving towards cleaner energy.
“People have drawn the conclusion that the whole project of net zero needs to be delayed, mothballed and put on ice,” he said. “For instance, we need to reopen coal-fired power stations and frack the hell out of the British countryside. So, I believe here at Sharm is a moment where we really have to tackle this nonsense head on.”
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to attend COP27 on Nov. 11
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