King Charles: COP28 an ‘unmissable opportunity’ to deliver a net-zero, nature-positive future

King Charles delivered an impassioned speech at the World Leaders Summit at COP28 in Dubai, stating that a net-zero and nature-positive future was achievable, but that a “starker and darker world” was inevitable based on current trajectories.

King Charles: COP28 an ‘unmissable opportunity’ to deliver a net-zero, nature-positive future

The King arrived in Dubai to deliver one of the opening speeches for the World Leaders Summit, which commenced on Friday (1 December) at COP28.

With the summit already delivering a breakthrough agreement on a new loss and damage fund for emerging markets, the King delivered a passionate speech calling on nations to mobilise “the trillions of dollars we need” to deliver a net-zero and nature-positive agreement.

“Eight years ago, I was most touched to be asked to speak at the opening of COP21 in Paris, which culminated in the Paris Agreement – a landmark moment of hope and optimism, where nations put their differences aside for the common good,” the King told world leaders.

“I pray with all my heart that  COP28 will be another critical turning point toward genuine transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.”

King Charles told the thousands of negotiators at COP28 that an “unmissable opportunity to keep our common hope alive” was still in their hands, and that it could be realised through “ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face”.

The King referenced the “unprecedented” floods in places like Pakistan and Canada’s “most significant” wildfire season as proof that the tipping points of the climate crisis were being felt today.

During his speech, the King called on public, private and philanthropic organisations to strengthen their ongoing efforts to respond to the climate and ecological crises while safeguarding society. He added that more finance needed to flow into solutions to these crises and that innovation such as renewables should be deployed across all industries and nations.

The King also states that different initiatives and solutions would work for different markets and regions and that a “coherent” joined-up approach was needed to realise this. Finally, the King said that negotiations could deliver an “ambitious new vision” that would protect the planet and its people.

Nature focus

The King then turned his attention to the interdependencies between the climate crisis and the ongoing ecological breakdown.

He called for subsidies that harm nature to be “eliminated with all due speed” and for reforms of financial infrastructure for a “nature-positive future”.

“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,” the King said.

“Harmony with nature must be maintained, the Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”

Commenting on the King’s opening speech at the COP28 summit, Zahra Hdidou, Senior Climate and Resilience Advisor, ActionAid UK said:  “We welcome King Charles’ keynote speech at COP and his continued dedication towards climate action. For several decades His Majesty has championed stronger climate action. While we value the King’s commitments towards tackling climate change, his ambition is deeply compromised by his own Government.

“The irony should not be lost that the King is flanked at the summit by two men who remain committed to climate-wrecking policies. On one side we have a Prime Minister who has gone on record as saying he wants to “max out” North Sea oil and gas – and stands accused by former colleagues as being ‘uninterested’ in environmental policies. And on the other side, the King is joined by a foreign secretary who swiftly abandoned his own promise to lead the greenest government on record just three years after being elected in 2010.”

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