In an impassioned speech to world leaders, King Charles III has suggested humans are changing ecological conditions at a pace that far outstrips nature’s ability to adapt and cope.
He said the climate summit, which is the year being held in Dubai, was a crucial opportunity to keep hope alive. “I can only urge you to meet it with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face”, he said.
The King told delegates he “prays with all my heart” that this year’s summit can be a “critical turning point towards genuine transformational action”.
He said: “As scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached”.
He added: ”I’ve spent a large proportion of my life trying to warn of the existential threats facing us over global warming. But I was not alone”. But “all these decades later” and despite “all this attention”, there is 30 per cent more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and almost 40 per cent more methane.
“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 toll of its most vulnerable victims?”
“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.”
Reacting to King Charles’ speech, Izzie McIntosh, from Global Justice Now said: “King Charles’s dire warnings are meaningless unless the UK government backs them up with actions. Instead, Rishi Sunak has been rolling back net zero plans, expanding North Sea oil and gas, and is now fiddling the figures on climate finance.
“Rich polluting countries saying the right thing while doing the wrong thing has become all too familiar over 30 years of climate summits – the only difference this time is that in Charles and Rishi it’s a deceitful double act.”
Meanwhile, Downing Street has defended the decision for Sunak, King Charles and foreign secretary David Cameron to fly to the the climate conference on three separate private jets.
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “It is in line with the government’s position that we are not anti-flying. We do not seek to restrict the public from doing so and it’s important the UK has strong attendance at Cop28 given we continue to be a world leader in tackling climate change.”
The prime minister has also insisted the country had “a better track record than any other major economy in decarbonising”.
Speaking to reporters on the plane to Dubai, Sunak added: “We are a leader on this issue – we have been, we’re continuing to do so. I will walk around very proudly championing the UK’s achievements.”
Ahead of King Charles III’s speech, Lord Zac Goldsmith, who resigned as an environment minister in June, told Sky News that delays to green targets meant “our standing has diminished in recent months”.
He said: “The UK is just not seen by our allies – big and also small island members of the Commonwealth – as a reliable or serious partner.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is also attending COP28. This morning shadow minister Sarah Jones detailed his goals in attending the climate summit in Dubai.
She told Sky News: “I think Keir Starmer is there to show that under a Labour government, Britain will be back on the world stage.
“We have seen Rishi Sunak step back from the commitments that he made in this space, which is bad for the climate but it’s also bad for business and investment in the UK.
“Keir is there to talk to world leaders, to talk to business and to talk to people about what a Labour government would do.”
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