Who is and is not attending Cop27? From Biden and Sunak to Putin and King Charles

Greta Thunberg among notable absentees as climate change summit gets underway

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 09 November 2022 08:47 GMT

Related: World Economic Forum reveals impact of climate change over next 100 years

Cop27, the latest instalment of the annual United Nations’ global climate summit, will take place in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt over 10 days in November.

Following last year’s Cop26 gathering in Glasgow, the conference running from the 6th to the 18th of the month will again see world leaders and their teams of negotiators come together to thrash out deals to safeguard the future of our planet.

Cop27 is open to all parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the landmark treaty signed by many nations at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The UNFCC was aimed at reining in “dangerous human interference with the climate system” – and later led to the emissions-cutting deals the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.

Observer organisations like environmental NGOs, think-tanks and faith-based groups, as well as members of the media and the general public, are also allowed to attend.

More than 200 governments have been invited to take part, although not all world leaders have confirmed their attendance.

Despite Cop27 coinciding with the US midterm elections, president Joe Biden will reportedly join climate envoy John Kerry in Egypt. The White House has been reluctant to discuss travel plans in detail and whether the US leader will sit down with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is not yet known.

World famous climate activist Greta Thunberg will not be there, however, which is perhaps not surprising given the disdain she has so vehemently expressed for the summit.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, a pariah due to the war in Ukraine, is likewise not expected to show up, although the Kremlin could still send delegates to the summit.

As host nation, Egypt has called on countries otherwise hostile to one another to put their differences aside and “show leadership” for the greater good of the planet.

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin would be two of the biggest names to attend

New UK prime minister Rishi Sunak was also set to miss out but has since U-turned on that snub and will now be there.

His initial decision to prioritise Britain’s Autumn Budget over the summit was blasted as a “massive failure of leadership” by Labour’s shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband and his party leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

The PM’s environment secretary, Therese Coffey, then made matters worse by attempting to justify the call by saying it was “standard practice” and downplaying Cop27 as “just a gathering of people in Egypt”.

Alok Sharma MP, who was UK president of Cop26, will also attend despite losing his Cabinet post in Mr Sunak’s first reshuffle. It is also expected that Ms Coffey, foreign secretary James Cleverly and/or business secretary Grant Shapps will be there, as will Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

More controversially, at least from Mr Sunak’s point-of-view: Boris Johnson will also be putting in an appearance.

Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, when it was hosted by the UK in Glasgow

Mr Sharma has cut a frustrated figure since spearheading Cop26 and appeared before a number of parliamentary committees on Mr Sunak’s first day in office and said the government should “explain and demonstrate” how pivoting back towards fossil fuel exploitation is consistent with the fight against climate change.

Egyptian diplomat Mohamed Nasr has implored Britain to play a significant role at Cop27.

“We know that there are challenges, economic challenges that are there, facing the UK and other countries, but we hope that those challenges does not lead to backsliding on the pledges,” he told Sky News.

Egypt’s ambassador also said he hoped King Charles III would rethink skipping the summit, a decision held over from Liz Truss’s brief tenure as PM as part of a bid to keep the new monarch at one remove from “political” concerns, although he has since reaffirmed his absence, politely declining the ambassador’s “open” invitation.

King Charles III is not expected to attend despite his long-held concerns about climate

In October, Wael Aboulmagd, a special representative for the Cop27 presidency, told Reuters that around 90 nations had confirmed they would be in attendance, although he did not name specific countries.

“We’ve received a large number of confirmations from around the world, I think the last count was about 90 heads of state but the numbers keep coming in,” he said.

“What we’ve decided is that our heads of state section will not be a traditional plenary-only type of affair, but rather there will be six roundtables... for heads of state to actually engage in a discussion on the issue at hand.”

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