The ‘Green’ King Charles told Dubai’s COP28 the ‘hope of the world’ rests on climate talks taking place successfully during the globate summit.
He warned that the world was ‘dreadfully far off track’ in delivering a sustainable future for coming generations as he called for ‘genuine transformational action’.
The British monarch, who has long been praised for his environmental and conservation ethos, said: ‘Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperilled.’
He explained how he was present at COP21 when the landmark Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, setting out the ambition to keep average global temperature rises below 1.5C pre-industrial levels and reach net zero by 2050. To achieve this emissions need to be cut by half by 2030.
But as the King took to the stage at Dubai Expo City, on Friday 1 December, the World Meteorological Organisation said Earth was already on track for 1.4C of warming in 2023.
King Charles’ Hopes
‘I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point for genuine transformational action,’ Charles said. ‘In 2050 our grandchildren won’t be asking what we said, they will be living with the consequences of what we did or did not do.
‘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.’
World leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi, Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan were present in the audience to watch the King’s speech.
‘If we act together to safeguard our planet, the welfare of our people will surely follow,’ the King, who has been campaigning to save the planet for decades, told them. ‘The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.’
King Chales highlighted recent developments which emphasise the severity of the climate crisis.
‘When we see the news that this last Northern Hemisphere summer, for instance, was the warmest global average temperature on record, we need to pause to process what this actually means: we are taking the natural world outside balanced norms and limits, and into dangerous, uncharted territory,’ he said.
‘We are carrying out a vast, frightening experiment of changing every ecological condition, all at once, at a pace that far outstrips nature’s ability to cope.
‘As we work towards a zero-carbon future, we must work equally towards being nature-positive… With what we are witnessing, our choice now is a starker, and darker one: how dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?
‘Dealing with this is a job for us all. Change will come by working together and making it easier to embrace decisions that will sustain our world, rather than carry on as though there are no limits, or as though our actions have no consequences.’
King Charles first spoke of the dangers of climate change back in 1970 while still heir to the throne, and began campaigning on conservation issues and promoting organic farming.
‘I’ve spent a large proportion of my life trying to warn of the existential threat posed by global warming,” he told the summit.
Responding to King Charles’ address, activists said there was a notable gap between his words and the recent decisions taken by the UK government.
‘While we value the King’s commitments towards tackling climate change, his ambition is deeply compromised by his own government,’ said Zahra Hdidou, senior climate and resilience adviser at ActionAid UK.
‘While we understand His Majesty must stick to his government’s script on climate, we can only hope that behind the scenes he uses his influence to persuade both men to abandon their reckless, anti-climate policies.’
The King spoke after COP28 was officially opened by the President of the UAE, and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who said his country had ‘pledged to bring the world together to unite, work and deliver’.