The King will tell world leaders that ‘the hope of the world rests on the decisions you must take’ when he addresses the Cop28 eco-summit in Dubai today.
He is the only foreign head of state who has been invited to speak at the climate action meeting of global leaders, in honour of the work he has been undertaking in the environmental field for decades.
In his speech, His Majesty is expected to tell delegates: ‘I pray with all my heart that Cop28 will be a critical turning point towards genuine transformational action.’
But he is also set to warn that while progress has been made towards a more sustainable future, the repeated warning signs of the impact of climate change – especially in vulnerable regions across the Commonwealth – are being ignored.
The King believes this could have devastating consequences as ‘lives and livelihoods are laid waste’.
The King will tell world leaders that ‘the hope of the world rests on the decisions you must take’ when he addresses the Cop28 eco-summit in Dubai today
King Charles talks to representatives at the Commonwealth and Nature reception during COP28
Aides said His Majesty ‘deeply appreciates’ the invitation, which came from the UAE as host nation and at the request of the British Government
It is understood he will argue that the world needs real action, and that solutions will come only by nations working together to make it easier for the public sector, the private sector, philanthropic organisations and other stakeholders to take the necessary steps in unison.
‘The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth,’ he will add. It will be the King’s first major speech on the environment since becoming monarch last year and his words have been shaped with the ‘full support’ of the Government, aides stressed.
Unlike the King, who is an ardent environmentalist, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been rowing back on his green pledges. Mr Sunak will be present along with new Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, who spent time with the King yesterday.
Aides said His Majesty ‘deeply appreciates’ the invitation, which came from the UAE as host nation and at the request of the British Government.
The King told Lord Cameron: ‘I would not have missed it for the world’, as he met students at a campus in Dubai.
Later he was given a present by indigenous tribes from Brazil of a handmade decorated wooden bird, a symbol of biodiversity. Joenia Wapichana said: ‘I thanked him for everything he has done to help protect biodiversity in the Amazon.’
However, in news that could cause red faces among green campaigners, Cop28 is likely to be the biggest and most polluting event of its kind, according to official figures.
The amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the event is set to outstrip previous meetings due to the sheer numbers attending, experts said.
More than 104,000 official delegates are attending the summit — and an estimated 400,000 others will attend related events in the United Arab Emirates.
The vast majority of attendees at the oil- and gas-rich Gulf country will come by plane – so the amount of emissions produced is likely to dwarf that in previous years.
Scientists calculate a return economy commercial flight to Dubai from the UK will generate about 1.3 tonnes of CO2 — and a private jet more than nine times this figure per passenger.
King Charles is greeted by Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron as he arrives to meet students at Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus during Cop28
In his speech, His Majesty is expected to tell delegates: ‘I pray with all my heart that Cop28 will be a critical turning point towards genuine transformational action’
People walk the venue for the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit with the Al Wasl Dome in the background at Expo City
However, climate experts say that the huge amounts of greenhouse gas generated by the event will be worth it if it helps to put the brakes on global warming, by getting countries to commit to reducing their emissions.
Richard Black of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: ‘Given the number of people expected here, yes this probably will have the highest carbon footprint of any COP to date.
‘But the size of that footprint is absolutely dwarfed by the emission cuts that a deal can produce. If all the agreements made at the Glasgow summit two years ago are realised, that would save 70,000 times more carbon than the summit itself produced.
‘And for this one, the biggest element of a deal that’s on the table – agreeing to triple renewable energy deployment by 2030 – would avoid 7 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions this decade, equivalent to about 20 years of UK emissions.’
A Cop28 spokesman said: ‘Cop28 will demonstrate its sustainability ambition by delivering a carbon conscious and sustainable event.’