Rishi Sunak said the UK would not “be the difference” in the battle against climate change as he urged the US and China to “dramatically accelerate” their efforts to reduce harmful emissions.
The Prime Minister warned the international community it must take further action on the environment in a press conference at the Cop28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Sunak also argued that the Government had “done more than others” to date in reducing its emissions, and that this justified his decision to delay a range of domestic green deadlines.
Despite the US and China being the largest two global polluters, neither Joe Biden nor Xi Jinping opted to attend Cop28 and both presidents instead sent delegations in their place.
Asked whether emissions from polluters like China and the US could render the UK’s own climate action insignificant, Mr Sunak replied: “The UK accounts for less than one per cent of global emissions, that is just the reality of it.
“So all of us who believe in climate change, who want to make sure we leave our planet in a better shape for our kids and grandkids, have to acknowledge that in reality what we do isn’t going to be the difference in terms of our emissions.
“Now, of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. Of course, we have got a responsibility to act – we have to demonstrate, we have to lead by example. That is what we are doing, but you are right to say from a practical scientific perspective, clearly it is the emitters that have to bring down their emissions reductions and we can help with that.”
Earlier in the week, Downing Street had stressed the size of China’s economy and geopolitical influence meant it must co-operate with other countries to meet the challenge posed by rising temperatures.
‘All nations have a duty to do more’
Speaking at Cop28, Mr Sunak said the global community was “not moving quickly or effectively enough” to hit the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5C, and that all countries had a duty to do more.
“I’m calling on major emitters to dramatically accelerate delivery on what they’ve already promised. Everyone can do more. And let’s be very clear, the UK is leading the charge.”
Mr Sunak used his remarks on Friday afternoon to announce a deal between Masdar and RWE with the companies investing £11 billion in the new wind farm at Dogger Bank in the North Sea – the largest such facility in the world.
He also insisted “hand on heart” that no business or political leader he spoke to during his day at Cop28 had raised concerns about his decision to push back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, noting most countries also have the same deadline.
“What did I do that was apparently so dramatic? I changed it to 2035. Basically every other country in the world is using 2035 as their target – France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Italy, Sweden, states in America.”
The Prime Minister has regularly criticised disruptive environmental activists like Just Stop Oil and sounded the alarm on Friday about the tone of green debate in countries like the UK and US, telling reporters: “Climate politics is at breaking point.”
Asked about the fact that his travel to and from Dubai took up more time than he actually spent at the summit, Mr Sunak replied: “I wouldn’t measure our impact here by hours spent, I would measure it by the actual things we’re doing that are making a difference.”
The Government on Thursday night announced £1.6 billion in climate funding across a range of projects aimed at encouraging environmentally friendly development, ending deforestation and providing “loss and damage” reparations to countries that have already been badly hit by global warming.
04:00 PM GMT
That is all for today...
Thank you for joining me for today’s politics live blog.
We will be back on Monday.
03:29 PM GMT
King Charles wears Greek flag tie at Cop28 summit in wake of Elgin Marbles row
King Charles wore a tie featuring what appeared to be the flag of Greece as he attended the Cop28 summit in Dubai today.
It comes after a week in Westminster which was largely dominated by the fallout from Rishi Sunak’s decision to cancel a meeting with the Greek PM amid a row over the Elgin Marbles.
The King’s tie prompted much speculation and debate on social media:
03:19 PM GMT
Labour claim Sunak 'complacent' on climate change
Ed Miliband, the shadow energy secretary, claimed Rishi Sunak was “complacent” on climate change as he responded to the Prime Minister’s press conference at the Cop28 summit in Dubai.
The Labour frontbencher said: “That was a complacent performance from a Prime Minister in denial about the energy bills crisis at home, and the weakening of the United Kingdom’s standing abroad in his time in office.
“Working people are paying the price for Rishi Sunak’s climate failure, in the form of higher bills, and in the awful costs this leaves our children and grandchildren.”
02:57 PM GMT
Pictured: Sunak talks to Italian PM Giorgia Meloni at Cop28 in Dubai
02:25 PM GMT
Sunak defends brief visit to Cop28 summit
Rishi Sunak said he would not measure the UK’s impact at Cop28 by “hours spent” when questioned about his 11-hour trip to Dubai.
Asked whether he was really taking the climate summit seriously and why he was leaving “so soon”, he told a press conference: “I wouldn’t measure out impact here by hours spent, I would measure it by the actual things that we’re doing that are making a difference. And as I said, the conversations that I’ve been having with people are incredibly positive.”
He added: “I’m actually very confident that what we’ve achieved here is significant. We’ve set out our stall, demonstrated our, I think, both moral and practical leadership on this issue and furthered the agenda in ways that we can make a difference – loss and damage being another example.”
02:13 PM GMT
PM insists Rwanda 'committed' to migrant deportation scheme
Rishi Sunak was pictured speaking to Sir Tony Blair and Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, at the Cop28 summit in Dubai today.
Asked what he had discussed with them, the Prime Minister said: “It was nice to see Tony Blair who obviously has got an enormous amount of experience of the Middle East so it was good to catch up with him very briefly on that.
“Paul Kagame is obviously we have a deep partnership with Rwanda which he is committed to, as am I, and we are both committed to making it work.”
01:58 PM GMT
Sunak admits UK climate efforts won't matter if China and US fail to act
Rishi Sunak was told that the leaders of the world’s two biggest polluters - China and the US - were not attending the Cop28 summit.
Asked if he was worried that the UK’s efforts on reducing emissions could pale into insignificance if China and the US do not act, Mr Sunak said: “The UK accounts for less than one per cent of global emissions. That is just the reality of it.
“So all of us who believe in climate change who want to make sure we leave our planet in a better shape for our kids and our grandkids have to acknowledge that in reality what we do isn’t going to be the difference in terms of our emissions.
“Now of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. Of course we have got a responsibility to act. We have got to demonstrate, we have got to lead by example. That is what we are doing but you are right to say from a practical scientific perspective clearly it is the large emitters that have to bring down their emissions reductions and we can help with that.”
He added: “You are right. Ultimately we are less than one per cent of emissions, we have got to have other people step up to the plate as well...”
01:50 PM GMT
Sunak announces new wind farm investment
Rishi Sunak has announced a deal between Masdar and RWE to invest up to £11 billion in the UK’s new wind farm at Dogger Bank.
Speaking at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai, he said: “I’m pleased to announce a new deal between Masdar and RWE which includes a commitment to jointly invest up to £11 billion into the UK’s new wind farm at Dogger Bank, which will be the biggest in the world.
“This is a huge boost for UK renewables, creating more jobs, helping to power three million homes and increasing our energy security.”
01:49 PM GMT
No concerns raised at Cop28 about UK watering down green policies, says PM
Rishi Sunak was asked if he could say “hand on heart” that no one at the Cop28 summit had raised concerns about him watering down some of the UK’s net zero measures.
“Hand on heart, 100 per cent, no,” he said.
Mr Sunak said his approach on net zero was “eminently reasonable” and “we have done more than everybody else”.
01:46 PM GMT
UK 'still on track' to hit net zero by 2050 despite policy changes, says Sunak
It was suggested to Rishi Sunak that his position on net zero and reducing emissions seemed to be that he believed the UK was doing enough and he was now leaving it to others to make more progress.
The Prime Minister said that “we are going to continue to do more than others” going forward and the UK is “still on track” to hit the net zero by 2050 target even after his recent policy changes on green measures.
01:41 PM GMT
Sunak calls on 'major emitters to dramatically accelerate' climate action
Rishi Sunak said “we are not moving quickly or effectively enough” to tackle climate change.
Addressing journalists at the Cop28 summit in Dubai, the Prime Minister said he was “calling on major emitters to dramatically accelerate delivery on what they have already promised”.
“Everyone can do more,” he said.
01:28 PM GMT
Starmer accuses Sunak of 'small' politics
Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of engaging in “small” politics and “shrinking” from the world stage.
The Labour leader told reporters that his attendance at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai should be seen as a “statement of intent” for how an incoming Labour government would behave.
Sir Keir said: “I think that an event like this is an opportunity for a prime minister of the United Kingdom to show a seriousness, to show leadership, to want to lead on the global stage on issues which are really important to our country…
“For the Prime Minister to reduce this down in the way that he does, the smallness of his politics is becoming a feature of his politics. We saw it with the Greek prime minister. We saw it with some of the lines that he was putting out about eco zealots as he got on the plane to come here.”
Sir Keir continued: “This is not something to shrink from, not something to retreat from. Among the reasons we’re here is a statement of intent to say if there’s an incoming Labour government, things will be done differently and we will rise to the international stage, not retreat from it.”
01:03 PM GMT
Sunak press conference pushed back to 1.30pm
As is often the case at major international summits, the Prime Minister’s press conference has been delayed. Again.
It had been due to start at 11.45am UK time but it keeps sliding and the latest estimate is that Rishi Sunak will take questions from the media at 1.30pm.
01:01 PM GMT
Nuclear waste should be used to heat homes, ministers advised
Nuclear waste should be used to heat homes as part of the drive for net zero, ministers have been told.
The UK has a stockpile of plutonium and uranium big enough to power every household in the country for six years, or up to a century if it continues to be re-processed, according to the Adam Smith Institute (ASI).
The think tank is urging the Government to draw on these reserves as a source of clean energy, while liberalising the “sclerotic” planning system to accelerate Britain’s nuclear development.
You can read the full story here.
12:43 PM GMT
Sunak praises King Charles over climate efforts
Rishi Sunak praised the King as having been “at the forefront of the fight to protect our planet” for more than 60 years as he posted a picture of himself with Charles at Cop28 on social media.
He said on X, formerly Twitter: “For more than 60 years, His Majesty has been at the forefront of the fight to protect our planet.
“Today at #COP28 we’re committed to safeguarding the environment for generations to come.”
For more than 60 years, His Majesty has been at the forefront of the fight to protect our planet.
Today at #COP28 we’re committed to safeguarding the environment for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/U7rsoc0CrW
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) December 1, 2023
12:28 PM GMT
Another delay to PM's press conference
Rishi Sunak’s press conference at the Cop28 summit in Dubai has been further delayed.
We had expected to hear from the Prime Minister at 11.45am but it is now looking like it will be closer to 1pm.
12:10 PM GMT
Labour leader says he would live next to onshore windfarm
Sir Keir Starmer said he would be willing to live next to a wind turbine as he defended Labour’s energy proposals.
Labour has said it wants to see more onshore wind farms in the UK. Asked if he would live next to one of the turbines, the Labour leader told GB News: “Of course I would. I have been asked that many, many times, as have other communities.
“What I have found is that when people are asked do you want your energy bills to go down… there is a resounding yes to that.”
11:50 AM GMT
Starmer insists Labour's green drive will mean lower energy bills
Sir Keir Starmer has insisted Labour’s push to achieve clean power across the UK by 2030 will result in lower household energy bills.
Labour is planning to eventually invest £28billion a year on green technology. Sir Keir was asked by GB News as he attended the Cop28 summit in Dubai if his party’s plans would put bills up.
He replied: “It will do the complete opposite. If we can get to clean power by 2030, that means lower bills, not just for one year or two years but permanently lower bills.
“It also means energy security which means Putin can’t put his foot on our throat and we don’t pay higher prices because of international conflict.
“It also means that we get the next generation of jobs, skilled jobs, secure jobs, that are desperately needed. The cost is actually if we don’t do it, not if we do do it.”
11:37 AM GMT
Train drivers vote for more strike action
Members of Aslef have voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action for the next six months in their ongoing dispute over pay, the train drivers’ union announced this morning.
It comes a day after RMT union members at train operators voted to accept a new pay deal.
11:35 AM GMT
PM's press conference delayed
As is so often the case at big international summits, the Prime Minister’s press conference has been delayed.
We had been expecting to hear from Rishi Sunak at 11.45am UK time but it now looks like he will be taking questions at about 12.30pm.
11:32 AM GMT
Pictured: Sir Tony Blair and Rishi Sunak chat at Cop28 summit in Dubai
11:09 AM GMT
Poll: Labour hold 22 point lead over Tories
The Labour Party holds a 22 point poll lead over the Conservatives, according to a new survey conducted by Techne UK.
The poll, carried out on November 19-30, put Labour on 45 per cent and the Tories on 23 per cent.
Labour were down by one point and the Tories were up by two points when compared to the company’s previous poll on November 22-23.
NEW POLL: Labour lead by 22 points:
Lab: 45% (-1)
Con: 23% (+2)
Lib Dem: 11% (-1)
Reform: 8% (=)
Green: 7% (=)
SNP: 3% (=)
Others: 3% (=)
👥 1,629 questioned.
🗓️ +/- 22/23 Nov
🔗 https://t.co/70GPBMvAyN #Labour #Conservatives #LiberalDemocrats #ReformUK #GreenParty #SNP pic.twitter.com/V7H7fwt7cp
— Techne UK (@techneUK) December 1, 2023
10:57 AM GMT
Rishi Sunak to hold press conference at Cop28 summit
Rishi Sunak is expected to hold a press conference at the Cop28 climate change summit in Dubai later this morning.
We are expecting to hear from the Prime Minister at about 11.45am UK time.
10:39 AM GMT
Net zero drive 'must benefit, not burden, ordinary families', says Sunak
Rishi Sunak said the shift to net zero emissions “must benefit, not burden, ordinary families” and “that’s why I have set out a new approach to get us there”.
The Prime Minister said the UK had decarbonised “faster than any other G7 country” but “we can’t stop there”.
The UK is committing £1.6billion at the Cop28 summit in Dubai today for international climate finance projects.
The PM has published a Twitter thread on the subject here:
The UK has decarbonised faster than any other G7 country.
But we can’t stop there.
That’s why I’m at @COP28_UAE, to work with countries to tackle climate change.
Here’s what we’re doing 🧵 pic.twitter.com/Yzn3Gfp3QR
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) December 1, 2023
10:08 AM GMT
Pictured: King Charles and Rishi Sunak speak to each other at Cop28 summit
09:55 AM GMT
Poll: One in 10 believe Cop28 summit will result in ‘significant action’
Just one in 10 people in the UK believe the Cop28 climate summit is likely to result in “significant action” being agreed to tackle climate change.
A new YouGov poll found 11 per cent believe the summit will result in a big step forward. But the overwhelming majority - 75 per cent - said it was unlikely that the summit in Dubai will result in major changes.
The poll was conducted between November 27-28.
09:40 AM GMT
Sunak threw ‘hissy fit’ because Greek PM met Starmer first, suggests Osborne
George Osborne has suggested Rishi Sunak may have thrown a “hissy fit” in the row over the Elgin Marbles because the Greek prime minister met Sir Keir Starmer before him.
Mr Osborne, who is chairman of the British Museum, speculated the spat could have been triggered because the Prime Minister objected to Kyriakos Mitsotakis holding talks with the Labour leader the day before he was due in Downing Street, rather than by a dispute over the Parthenon sculptures themselves.
The former chancellor also said he would continue to explore a potential “exchange deal” with Athens, regardless of whether Mr Sunak was willing to engage with the Greek premier.
You can read the full story here.
09:18 AM GMT
Pictured: King Charles talks to Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani
08:51 AM GMT
'The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth'
King Charles III told world leaders at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai that they had an “unmissable opportunity” to take steps to tackle climate change.
He said: “In your hands is an unmissable opportunity to keep our common hope alive. I can only urge you to meet it with ambition, imagination and a true sense of the emergency we face and together with a commitment to the practical action upon which our shared future depends.”
The King said grandchildren in 2050 “won’t be asking what we said, they will be living with the consequences of what we did or didn’t do”.
He concluded: “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”
08:44 AM GMT
Environment must be 'rapidly' repaired, says King Charles
The climate and the environment must be “rapidly” repaired, King Charles told the Cop28 summit as he warned without action the survivability of the human race will be “imperilled”.
He said: “Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s unique economy based on harmony and balance which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperilled.”
He said that climate records are being broken so often that he wondered if people were becoming “immune to what they are really telling us”.
The monarch said the planet is entering “dangerous uncharted territory”.
08:38 AM GMT
King Charles: 'It worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off track'
King Charles III said that he had spent a “large proportion of my life trying to warn of the existential threats facing us over global warming”.
Addressing world leaders at Cop28 in Dubai, he said that “some important progress has been made but it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off track as the global stock take report demonstrates so graphically”.
He said: “The dangers are no longer distant risks. I have seen across the Commonwealth and beyond countless communities which are unable to withstand repeated shocks, whose lives and livelihoods are laid waste by climate change.
“Surely real action is required to stem the growing troll of its most vulnerable victims?”
08:35 AM GMT
King Charles warns of 'alarming tipping points' in fight against climate change
King Charles III has addressed world leaders at the start of the Cop28 climate change summit in Dubai.
The King said that eight years ago he was “most touched” to have been asked to speak at the opening of Cop21 in Paris which culminated in the Paris Agreement.
He said that was a “landmark moment of hope and optimism”.
“I pray with all my heart that Cop28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action at a time when already as scientists have been warning for so long we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached,” he said.
08:31 AM GMT
Sunak won’t single out China on climate action
Rishi Sunak declined to single out China when asked which countries need to do more to tackle climate change.
The Prime Minister heaped praise on Cop28 host the United Arab Emirates.
Pressed on whether Beijing should do more, the Prime Minister told reporters in Dubai: “Everyone collectively needs to do more to make sure that we do reduce emissions sufficiently.”
Quizzed on scepticism over a major oil producer hosting the summit, he said: “I actually commend the UAE for their leadership. They’ve been particularly strong on the issue of climate finance.”
08:24 AM GMT
Pictured: Rishi Sunak speaks to broadcasters at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai
08:12 AM GMT
‘We’ve got a great story to tell’
The UK has “a great story to tell” at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai, Rishi Sunak has said.
Challenged over whether his rollback of climate ambition at home makes it harder to push other countries to do more, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: “We have got an incredible track record in decarbonising in the UK, faster than any other major economy. We should be really proud of that.
“And I’ll be proud of that record at my meetings later today.”
He added: “We’re leading the world in new industries like offshore wind. We’re protecting nature at home, so we’ve got a great story to tell.”
He said other countries are “deeply appreciative” of the support that they are receiving from the UK to help them with the transition.
07:57 AM GMT
Sunak stresses importance of ‘humanitarian pauses’ as Gaza fighting resumes
Rishi Sunak stressed the importance of “sustained humanitarian pauses” in Gaza after fighting resumed.
The Prime Minister said he would discuss the issue in meetings with regional leaders on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate talks in Dubai today.
He told broadcasters: “Obviously this is news that has just broken in the past few minutes so I need to get into the details of it. It wouldn’t be right to speculate so early. But I am having meetings with leaders from around the region in a matter of hours to discuss the situation.
“We’ve been consistent that we want to see sustained humanitarian pauses so that more aid can get into the people of Gaza but also the hostages can come out. Those are critical ingredients. And as we’ve said everyone needs to adhere to the terms of these agreements.”
07:44 AM GMT
Lord Cameron: 'Vital' UK helps countries 'most impacted by climate change'
It is vital we build on our support to the developing countries most impacted by climate change.
That's why the UK has pledged up to £60m at #COP28 to help repair the loss and damage caused by events such as floods and crop failure. https://t.co/IhraKL7m7h
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 1, 2023
07:39 AM GMT
Sunak hits out at 'ideological zealots' on climate change
Rishi Sunak described climate protesters outside his home as “ideological zealots”.
Asked who he meant when he said he was “not in hock to ideological zealots” over climate change, the Prime Minister told broadcasters in Dubai: “Perhaps the people protesting outside my house recently.
“But there are people who think we should get to net zero without any regard to the cost on ordinary families. I don’t think that’s right.
“I think we’ve got to be cognisant of the impact of this on ordinary families up and down the country.”
07:27 AM GMT
PM vows to 'finish the job' and get Rwanda scheme 'up and running'
The Prime Minister has promised to “finish the job” and get the Rwanda migrant deportation scheme “up and running”.
Rishi Sunak told broadcasters as he attended the Cop28 climate change summit in Dubai that his patience had “worn thin” over the repeated delays to the policy.
He said: “My patience is worn thin, the British people’s patience is worn thin. And although we’ve made great progress on this issue – reducing the number of small boat crossings by a third this year, something that everyone thought was impossible when I got this job – we’ve got more to go.
“I want to finish the job and that’s why I’ll get the Rwanda scheme up and running.”
07:24 AM GMT
Sunak 'finalising' emergency Rwanda legislation - two weeks after it was announced
Rishi Sunak said the Government is “finalising” legislation to push through his Rwanda asylum plan as his “patience is worn thin” by setbacks to the deal.
Mr Sunak announced the “emergency” legislation as well as a planned new treaty with Rwanda in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling that the original deportation plan unlawful.
That was more than two weeks ago and there is still no sign of either the treaty or the legislation. The Bill is not scheduled to be debated in the Commons next week either.
Speaking to broadcasters in Dubai during his trip to the Cop28 climate summit, the Prime Minister said: “We’re finalising that at the moment. And it’s important that we get it right because this is such a vital issue.
“But I’m clear about the goal here – the goal is to make sure that Parliament can declare unequivocally that on the basis of everything that we’ve done that Rwanda is a safe place to operationalise our scheme.”
Mr Sunak said that once the legislation and treaty are in place “there should be no more domestic blocks to us putting in place this programme that we’ve been working on for a long time”.
07:20 AM GMT
Sunak hits back at climate criticism from Lord Goldsmith
Rishi Sunak has insisted the UK can “stand tall” at the Cop28 conference as it remains a “leader” on tackling climate change as he hit back at criticism from Lord Goldsmith.
The Prime Minister’s attendance at the summit in Dubai today comes after he scaled back a host of pledges designed to help the UK reach net zero emissions by 2050. He has also vowed to “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves by granting new North Sea drilling licences.
Lord Goldsmith, who resigned as environment minister earlier this year accusing Mr Sunak of being “uninterested” in green issues, told Sky News: “There’s no doubt our standing has diminished considerably in recent months.”
But asked what he would say to people accusing him of not being serious about climate action, Mr Sunak told journalists on his plane: “What I’d say first and foremost is we’ve got a better track record than any other major economy in decarbonising. Those are the facts. We look at the record, we’ve decarbonised 48 per cent, compared to France at 22, the US flat, China up. So we can stand tall when we walk around [on Friday]. Not only that, our forward targets for 2030 are more ambitious than any other major economy.
“Look, any which way I look at it, we are a leader on this issue. We have been, we’re continuing to do so. So I will walk around very proudly [on Friday] championing the UK’s achievements in this space. And I’m actually excited to focus on the £1.6bn of climate finance we’re announcing in the areas of forest and fuel and finance to help capitalise more positive change elsewhere.”