Over the weekend, Buckingham Palace confirmed that King Charles III would not be attending the climate summit. A senior royal source told the Guardian that the decision was made on government advice, but that discussions were currently being undertaken into how the monarch could still make his presence known. The UK Prime Minister Liz Truss will be attending the summit, according to the Sun, but without the monarch.
The response from the host country Egypt to this news is particularly unusual diplomatically, according to the Guardian, who quoted a COP27 spokesperson saying they were “disappointed”.
The spokesperson reportedly said: “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. We hope that this doesn’t indicate that the UK is backtracking from the global climate agenda after presiding over COP26.”
King Charles, who only recently came to the throne, delivered the opening speech at COP26 in Glasgow last year, and at COP21 in Paris in 2015 where he urged world leaders to commit “trillions, not billions, of dollars” to tackling climate change and urged them to sign the monumental Paris Agreement.
The former Prince of Wales has been outspoken on climate issues throughout his career, most recently setting up the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council in 2019, which calls on business leaders to invest in environmentally friendly operations.
Since then, more than 500 CEOs have pledged their support for the initiative’s “Terra Carta”, or Earth Charter, and the King was expected to push this in Egypt.
READ MORE: ‘Most significant environmental figure in history’: How King Charles has influenced environmental issues
This year’s climate summit is set to be particularly important, as since COP26 the world has changed significantly, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparking global supply chain issues and energy insecurity.
COP27 will focus on how countries are implementing the pledges made in Glasgow last year and the topic of loss and damage, and subsequently finance, is expected a to be key to negotiations as the longstanding pledge for richer countries to provide $100bn (£89bn) a year to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to extreme weather has not been fulfilled.
A spokesperson for the UK government told the Guardian: “We have a proud record when it comes to COP, [and] we are forging ahead with our plans for net zero. Fourty per cent of our power now comes from clean energy sources and we will continue to deliver on those promises.”