The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development is being held in Brazil later this month to bring together world leaders, the private sector, NGOs and other groups to discuss how the world can reduce poverty, advance social equity, and ensure environmental protection on a planet with an ever-increasing population. UK Prime Minister David Cameron clearly doesn’t deem these issues very important – as he has no plans to attend.

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The decision was met with anger by several MPs who have said that the move sends a signal to the rest of the world that climate change is not a matter of importance to the UK. They also feel that as one of the G8 countries, it is the UK’s responsibility to attend if it wishes to continue being a global leader.

“The secretary general of the UN has labelled the Rio+20 conference as one of the most important conferences in the history of the United Nations. The dates were even changed so as not to clash with the Diamond Jubilee to enable Commonwealth countries to attend”, said Joan Walley MP, chair of the environmental audit committee. “In not attending, the prime minister is sending out a powerful signal that the UK government does not see sustainability as a priority.”

Cameron has not had a good week and is already facing mockery for leaving his daughter in a pub without realizing, but this latest decision is a bigger blow to his political clout. In his stead, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and environment secretary Caroline Spelman will be attending.

“The prime minister should attend the Rio+20 conference and make an announcement to that effect as early as possible, to demonstrate the government’s commitment to the aims of the conference, within the UK and beyond,” said Whalley.

It should be noted however that David Cameron is not the only G20 leader that is not attending – Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have also announced that they won’t be going to Rio+20. This could all change if public pressure mounts for the leaders to attend – and there is precedence for this happening in the past. In 1992, George Bush Sr. changed his mind about attending the UN Rio Earth Conference following pleas from the UK and showed up with just a few days notice.

Outraged that these world leaders aren’t attending? Then make your fury known below.

+ Rio+20

Via The Guardian