Boris Johnson Heaps Pressure On Rishi Sunak At Climate Conference

The former prime minister also took a swipe at Liz Truss over her fracking stance.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson
Former prime minister Boris Johnson
The New York Times / Climate Forward

Boris Johnson has heaped pressure on Rishi Sunak over the UK’s commitments climate change.

The former prime minister made an appearance at the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt on Monday.

Johnson made a joke that rising temperatures in Westminster may have contributed to his ousting.

Piling pressure on his former chancellor, Johnson told a New York Times fringe event: “I think as everybody knows the budgetary pressures are massive right now but that doesn’t mean that we in the UK are not doing a huge amount.”

He said the taxpayer in the developed world has to to do some things but “cannot do everything”.

He gave a speech on the environment and took questions - just a few hours before Sunak was due to speak to delegates.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak.
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Sunak was initially not planning to attend the conference in Sharm El Sheikh while he battles to repair the damage sparked by Liz Truss’s mini-budget.

However, soon after Johnson announced he was going - the new prime minister performed a U-turn and confirmed his attendance.

Johnson dismissed suggestions he was trying to undermine Sunak and dodged questions over the PM’s flip flopping over his attendance.

“I’m a foot soldier, a spear carrier,” Johnson insisted. “I’m here in a purely supportive role and to remind the world what we did at Glasgow.”

Johnson continued: “The PM is here. I’m glad he is here. He made an outstanding speech the other day, he is on absolutely the right lines.”

The former prime minister said he was at the summit to warn “the risk is some people will go weak and wobbly on net zero, we can’t have that”.

He swiped at Truss and the Tory MPs who backed her over her plans to scrap the fracking ban. Sunak quickly reinstated the ban when he was made PM.

“There are people who have drawn the conclusion that the whole project of net zero needs to be delayed, mothballed and put on ice – for instance we need to reopen coal-fired power stations and frack the hell out of the British countryside,” Johnson said.

The backbencher said the summit in Egypt was a time to “tackle this nonsense head on”.

Johnson said we must use hydrocarbons in the “transitional period” but this was not the moment to “abandon” the campaign for net zero.

Speaking to The Sun on the flight out to Egypt, Sunak said he hoped he would “bump into” Johnson at some point.

“Isn’t it great we have a PM and a former PM both at Cop? That says something special about our country,” he said.

“Boris has been a stalwart champion of building a greener future, he deserves praise and credit for that, it’s great that he’s there.”

In a statement ahead of his departure, Sunak said: “We need to move further and faster to transition to renewable energy, and I will ensure the UK is at the forefront of this global movement as a clean energy superpower.”


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