A government spokesperson has said Egypt is “disappointed” that King Charles III will no longer attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh next month and expressed concern that the United Kingdom is “backtracking” on its climate commitments.
Ahead of the conference, which is called COP27, the spokesperson noted that UK climate ambitions appear to have cooled since COP26 took place in Glasgow last year.
Newly-installed Prime Minister Liz Truss recently confirmed that the government will reverse a long-standing ban on fracking, and Energy Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said that Britain will “extract every ounce of oil and gas from the North Sea”, despite earlier pledges to decrease the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We hope that this doesn’t indicate that the UK is backtracking from the global climate agenda after presiding over COP26,” said the spokesperson.
The official expressed “disappointment” that Charles had canceled plans to attend COP27. The monarch is a long-standing champion of climate issues, and both he and the late Queen Elizabeth II gave speeches at COP26.
Buckingham Palace said that the king sought counsel from the prime minister, who advised against his attendance.
“With mutual friendship and respect there was agreement that the king would not attend,” said a statement from Buckingham Palace.
Following the decision, Egypt renewed its invitation to him, saying “he will be most welcomed in Sharm El-Sheikh if he honors us with his presence”.
“The Egyptian presidency of the climate conference acknowledges the longstanding and strong commitment of His Majesty to the climate cause, and believes that his presence would have been of great added value to the visibility of climate action at this critical moment,” the spokesperson said.
Egypt also criticized rich nations for failing to deliver sufficient financing to help developing regions with climate change mitigation and the green transition.
In 2015, signatories of the Paris Agreement agreed to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate financing for the period 2020-2025. A September report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that financing peaked at $83.3 billion in 2020, and that the pledged target will only be reached in 2023 in a best-case-scenario.
“We have not yet delivered on the $100 billion pledge, which in itself is more a symbol of trust and reassurance than a remedy to actual climate needs,” said Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who is also UN COP27 president.
Shoukry said that rich countries must honor the financing pledge in order to avoid a “crisis of trust” among Paris signatories.
At a UN meeting in New York last month, Shoukry and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi agreed that the two sides will ramp up cooperation on climate change, and Wang said that China supports Egypt in hosting a successful COP27.