Sunak to call for 'era of action' on climate at Cop28 - despite watering down green measures at home

1 December 2023, 00:22

Rishi Sunak will call for an "era of action" on the climate
Rishi Sunak will call for an "era of action" on the climate. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak will call for an "era of action" on the climate and insist the UK is leading the way for making "pragmatic" decisions on the environment - despite watering down green pledges.

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The prime minister is travelling to Dubai on Friday for the UN Cop28 climate talks, following King Charles, who will make an opening address ahead of two weeks of talks.

Mr Sunak is due to announce money for anti-deforestation projects and renewable transitioning.

He said on the eve of his visit: "The world made ambitious pledges at previous Cop summits to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But the time for pledges is now over - this is the era for action.

"We know that the technologies and innovations we need to protect the planet are at our fingertips, from the mighty offshore wind farms powering the UK to the solar energy transforming electricity in Africa.

"The transition to net zero should make us all safer and better off. It must benefit, not burden ordinary families.

"The UK has led the way in taking pragmatic, long-term decisions at home - and at Cop28 we will lead international efforts to protect the world's forests, turbocharge renewable energy and leverage the full weight of private finance."

King Charles is already in Dubai
King Charles is already in Dubai. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak will join other world leaders for the talks in the UAE, which is already proving a controversial host given its prominence in the oil industry.

The Cop28 president, Sultan al-Jaber, is the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and he has been accused of using the talks to arrange oil deals. He denies the claims.

He will unveil £500m for stopping deforestation and £316m for energy innovation projects.

But his green credentials have taken a hit after he gave out new licences for North Sea drilling, pushed back the proposed ban on diesel and petrol cars to 2035 and dropped requirements for energy efficient upgrades in homes.

Mr Sunak also planned to skip Cop27 in Egypt last year but U-turned after criticism.

Read more: King Charles says he's 'alright… just about' as he brushes off Omid Scobie Endgame row

He has said that climate goals should not harm the public and Downing Street characterises the approach as a "blueprint" for achieving targets in a "realistic way".

A spokesman for Mr Sunak has also singled out China in remarks ahead of the talks.

"The challenge is all countries - and that includes China, which is obviously vitally important - have to take action," he said.

Mr Sunak is also due to push for the release of Hamas hostages and more help for civilians in Gaza.

Sir Keir Starmer will also travel to the UAE to meet world leaders, with his spokesman saying he will be "fighting for Britain" as Labour aims to make the UK energy independent.