Friends of COP open letter urges UK Prime Minister to attend COP27

COP27 Logo. Text: COP27. Sharm El-Sheikh. Egypt 2022.
In November 2022, Egypt will host the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh

The “Friends of COP”, including NbSI Director Professor Nathalie Seddon, have written to the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and ministers underlining the importance of the Prime Minister’s attendance at COP27 in November, and of building solidarity, trust and support in multilateral climate action.

The Friends of COP consists of over 25 experts in multiple sectors, who bring expertise from countries across six continents, including France, Barbados, Chad, Australia, India and Peru. They advise the COP Presidency Government and inspire action from their sectors ahead of the conference. Egypt will host the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The open letter to Prime Minister Sunak outlines the need to build on the momentum gained at COP26 as the nation currently holding the COP Presidency, with its responsibility to build trust and collective will amongst nations. It highlights the importance of showing leadership in aligning decarbonisation goals with economic recovery and resilience, honouring commitments and championing climate and development finance, and building unity in climate action.

The full open letter from the Friends of COP:

CC: Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, COP26 President; Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs; Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Minister for Development; Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Rt Hon Theresa Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

31 October 2022

Dear Prime Minister,

As the Friends of COP appointed by the UK Government to advise it during its Presidency of COP26, we want to offer our congratulations on your recent appointment as Prime Minister and reiterate our thanks for the part you played in the successful COP26 Summit held in Glasgow last year.

Attending COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh

Although it is nearly a year since COP26 took place, the UK’s COP Presidency is not yet over. As the Prime Minister of the nation currently holding the Presidency, we urge you to attend COP27 in person. Your attendance would not just be a service to Britain’s national interests but also a service to the international climate regime itself and all parties to it.

Global security has significantly declined since COP26 and the world is in urgent need of political leaders capable of offering integrated solutions to the multiple crises we face. COP27 offers the opportunity for you to attend a major international gathering of world leaders early in your premiership and signal the alignment of decarbonisation goals with much-needed innovation and economic recovery and performance. This would enable you to underline the credibility of UK commitments while offering a crucial message of solidarity and support for the most climate-vulnerable nations ahead of the upcoming G20 Summit in Bali.

The most important function of the COP Presidency is to build trust and collective will amongst nations. Thus far, the UK COP Presidency has managed to ensure that climate action has been a uniting force between rich and poor countries, even when relations were strained by Covid and economic turbulence. Now more than ever, this remains a geopolitical imperative, which you could personally support by attending COP27.

Using your Premiership to rebuild trust and confidence in multilateral climate action, including development finance

As Chancellor, your leadership during COP26 in announcing the UK as the world’s first Net Zero Aligned Financial Centre and establishing the Transition Plan Taskforce set a world-leading example. However, maintaining momentum in the implementation of COP26 commitments by all parties is vital to preserving trust and confidence in the effectiveness of the multilateral climate regime. Fulfilling the UK’s £11.6 billion international climate finance commitment, including to the Green Climate Fund, and ensuring that the UK remains on track to meeting its domestic climate and energy commitments are both vital in this regard.

Your speech to British citizens on 25 October centred on the crucial principles of economic competence and intergenerational justice. Whilst this focus is laudable, the interests of our children, our economies and future generations will not be protected unless we are able to tackle climate change. This will require the transition to net-zero and resilient economies globally, which in turn is dependent on our collective ability to address barriers to capital flow and unlock reform of our international financial institutions.

The Bridgetown Agenda, spearheaded by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, is an example of an initiative offering meaningful but achievable reform of the development finance architecture, which your government can champion at COP27. Many of the immediate asks located within the Agenda could redraw the international development finance landscape and derive more value from UK investment in institutions such as the World Bank, without costing the UK taxpayer. These include pushing for integration of disaster clauses into UK gilts, bilateral development loans and export credits, formally joining the US and Germany in setting a high-ambition roadmap to deliver all proposals in Capital Adequacy Frameworks (CAF) review recommended to the G20, and supporting the push during COP27 and at the G20 for debt market reform.

Geopolitical division means that our multilateral institutions need to work harder, if only to ensure that hard-fought progress is not lost. Just as you have set out your mission to earn the British electorate’s trust, COP27 also presents an opportunity for you to restore the trust and confidence of the international community in Global Britain. We sincerely hope that you will heed our advice and attend COP in person, and we stand ready to support you as required.

Yours sincerely,

Friends of COP

Justin Adams – Partner, Just Climate

James Cameron – Honorary Fellow, Grantham Institute on Climate Change and Environment, Imperial College London

Kate Hampton – CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim – Coordinator, Association of Indigenous Women and People of Chad (AFPAT)

Rachel Kyle – Dean, Fletcher School, Tufts University

Nick Mabey – CEO, E3G

Wanjira Mathai – Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, World Resources Institute

David Miller – Executive in Residence, Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria and Former Mayor of Toronto

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal – Climate & Energy Global Practice Leader, WWF International

Paul Polman – Business Leader and co-Author of Net Positive

Nathalie Seddon – Professor of Biodiversity, and Director of the Nature-based Solutions Initiative, Department of Biology, University of Oxford

Emily Shuckburgh – Director, Cambridge Zero, and Professor of Environmental Data Science, University of Cambridge

Andrew Steer – President and CEO, Bezos Earth Fund

Nicholas Stern – Professor of Economics & Government, London School of Economics and Political Science

Laurence Tubiana – CEO, European Climate Foundation