Rishi Sunak insisted he must focus on “depressing domestic challenges” instead of attending the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt after he was accused of a “failure of leadership”.
The Prime Minister insisted he is “personally committed” to tackling the climate crisis after he pulled out of a United Nations conference next month which Liz Truss was due to attend.
The government’s environmental credentials were also being questioned after it admitted it would miss a deadline to set landmark targets to clean up UK waters and boost biodiversity.
Former Tory culture secretary Nadine Dorries said Sunak is “wrong” not to attend the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, saying global warming is the “biggest crisis facing our planet”. Change Secretary Ed Miliband accused Sunak of a “massive failure of leadership”.
But Sunak insisted it is “right” for him to focus on the UK economy in talks with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of the Autumn Budget on November 17.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to a hospital in south London, the prime minister said: “The leadership we have shown on climate is unmatched almost anywhere in the world.
“It is important to me that, as Prime Minister, we leave behind a better environment for our children and grandchildren. I am very passionate about this. I am very personally committed to it.
“I think at this time it is right that I am also focusing on the depressing domestic challenges we have with the economy.
“I think that’s what any reasonable looking person would expect it to be doing as well.”