5 Key Points From The King's COP28 Speech

At the beginning of our special week of content on COP28 on Monday, we asked who would make the strongest moral case for progress in the fight against climate change. It turns out the answer to that is none other than King Charles.

COP28 is now well underway in Dubai and we’ve already seen a range of high-profile speakers including President Lula of Brazil. We’ve also already had the first agreement in the form of a “loss and damage” resolution, which pledges financial redress to countries most affected by climate change (this was proposed in COP27).

But the highest-profile intervention so far has been from King Charles, addressing his first COP as king. As Prince of Wales he was an ardent environmental campaigner, before it was fashionable, so brings with him an extra layer of credibility. He made his COP debut at the 21st summit in Paris, where the landmark Paris Agreement was signed off.

The great privilege (and balancing act) of being a British monarch is that you can be apolitical but speak frankly. You’re not seeking re-election, after all. Charles immediately made his message personal: “I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action”.

Here are the key points of his speech.

Humans Are the Problem

“The human race is conducting a huge and dangerous experiment that is overwhelming the natural world”, he said. “We’re changing every ecological system at once and nature can’t cope”

Nature is the Solution

The Earth is our “ultimate sustainer” with its own precious economy. “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 referenced indigenous people’s view of nature: “we are all connected. Not only as human beings, but with all living things and all that sustains life […]. The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.”

He described the planet as a “grand and sacred system”. 

Years gone by this would have been seen as starry-eyed idealism, but now environmental summits – attended by oligarchs and hard-headed business types as much as green campaigners – are increasingly focusing on biodiversity, deforestation and climate impact. As our COP 28 previews show, these issues will be top of the agenda.

We’re (Nearly) Doomed

It’s clear that “our own economy and survivability will be imperilled” if the status quo prevails, the king said. We’re all aware that “alarming tipping points” have already been reached. Previous COP summits may have focused on “preventing” climate change, but the global sense of urgency has jumped in the last few years. Now delegates will talk about “adaptation” to the worst effects.

But Hope is Important

Charles then called on delegates to keep hope alive that something can still be done. “If we act together to safeguard our precious planet, the welfare of all our people will surely follow,” he told them.

This challenge of saving the planet is an important responsibiliy for world leaders: “I can only urge you to meet it with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face.”

Next Generations Will Either Thank us or Curse us

Our grandchildren (Charles has five) will ask us not what we said at COP, but will be “living with the consequences of what we did or didn’t do”, he stressed.


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