Climate change will cause 'more human suffering' and 'ravage our planet' without urgent action, Rishi Sunak says

The PM spoke at a COP 27 reception hosted by King Charles III

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Rishi Sunak has told a COP27 reception hosted by the King that the world will experience “more human suffering” if we continue to allow “climate change to ravage our planet”.

The Prime Minister is attending COP27, the UN climate conference, in Egypt next week after a U-turn but Charles will miss the gathering of world leaders, business figures and environmentalists.

King Charles III greets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.
King Charles III greets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.

The King has long campaigned on environmental issues and last autumn he told the COP26 talks in Glasgow that the world has had enough of talking and commitments needed to be put into practice.

King Charles III planting a lime tree near the Tea House in the Buckingham Palace garden, for the Queen's Green Canopy (QGC), after hosting a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.
King Charles III planting a lime tree near the Tea House in the Buckingham Palace garden, for the Queen's Green Canopy (QGC), after hosting a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.

But the “soft power” diplomacy of the monarchy will be absent from the international gathering at Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

During Liz Truss’s brief premiership, a “unanimous agreement” was reached that the King should not attend COP27 after advice was sought by his office from the Government.

Speaking at a reception staged in the Buckingham Palace ballroom on Friday, Mr Sunak said: “As recent events have shown, delivering on the promise of Glasgow is more important than ever.

“More important because as we have seen so starkly with the war in Ukraine, it is vital to invest in secure, renewable sources of energy and sustainable food production.

“More important because every moment we allow climate change to ravage our planet we will see more human suffering like the devastating floods in Pakistan.

“And more important because if we do not act today, we will risk leaving an ever more desperate inheritance for our children.”

King Charles III (far left) arrives with, (left to tight) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma (centre) who presided over Cop26 and Brian Moynihan, Chair and CEO of Bank of America and Co-Chair of Sustainable Markets Initiative, during a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.
King Charles III (far left) arrives with, (left to tight) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma (centre) who presided over Cop26 and Brian Moynihan, Chair and CEO of Bank of America and Co-Chair of Sustainable Markets Initiative, during a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, London, ahead of the Cop27 Summit. Picture date: Friday November 4, 2022.

Among the guests at the palace from the world of finance, technology, transport and agribusiness were a number of Government figures, including Environment Secretary Therese Coffey, Business Secretary Grant Shapps, International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and COP26 President Alok Sharma.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was also in attendance, alongside Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, while foreign leaders included Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, and Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud.

Mr Sharma, who will be handing over the UK’s presidency to Egypt at the summit, has reportedly said he would “welcome” Charles’s presence at COP27.

Fashion designer and sustainability activist Stella McCartney was asked at the reception if it would be a “good idea” for the King to attend COP27, and she replied: “I think it’s good to have him everywhere talking on this subject matter but I don’t think it’s realistic to do so.”

McCartney, who joked with Charles when she first met him, went on to say: “That’s really the beauty of today and the work that King Charles has been doing, he is truly getting the world leaders in business and the world leaders in politics into the same room.

“They’re all here for one reason – people are facing problems, we need solutions and we all have to work together.”