Australia's prime minister has withdrawn a threat to skip next month's landmark UN climate summit, describing the meeting as "an important event".

"I confirmed my attendance at the Glasgow Summit, which I'm looking forward to attending," Scott Morrison told journalists.

Britain, which hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow on 31 October - 12 November, is seeking to get big power support for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

Under mounting pressure to adopt more ambitious climate targets, the conservative leader had suggested he would not join other heads of government in Scotland's largest city.

His comments angered climate activists and were seen as a direct diplomatic snub to the UK, a close ally and the summit host.

In a rare foray into politics, Britain's Prince Charles expressed surprise at Mr Morrison's reluctance and said it would be a "disaster" if leaders did not take firm action to arrest climate change.

Widely seen as a climate laggard, Australia is one of the world's largest coal and gas exporters and has long resisted adopting a carbon-neutral target.

While Mr Morrison has inched toward setting a target date of 2050 for that goal, he has refused to make the target binding and has yet to commit to more meaningful 2030 emissions reduction targets.

The 12-day meeting in Scotland will be the biggest climate conference since landmark talks in Paris in 2015 and is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emissions targets to slow global warming.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to snub the conference in Scotland, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been told.

"It is now pretty clear that Xi is not going to turn up and the PM has been told that," according to a report in The Times quoting an unidentified British source.

"What we don't know is what stance the Chinese are going to take," the source said.

The Times said British organisers fear that Mr Xi's decision to stay away could be a prelude to China refusing to set new climate change goals amid an energy crunch.


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Britain's queen irritated by leaders who are just talk on climate change

Britain's Queen Elizabeth has been overheard saying that she was irritated by world leaders who talk about climate change but then do very little or nothing to address the crisis.

The queen, who is due to attend the conference said she still did not know who was coming.

"Extraordinary isn't it. I’ve been hearing all about Cop," the 95-year-old monarch told Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of her son, Charles, Prince of Wales and the presiding officer of the Welsh assembly. "Still don’t know who is coming..."

"We only know about people who are not coming... It's really irritating when they talk, but they don't do," Elizabeth said in a conversation picked up by a microphone.