King Charles, in addressing world leaders, has expressed concern over the current global experiment on the natural world, which he deems as “vast” and “frightening.” He warns of potential “feedback loops” in the climate system that could lead to irreversible disaster.
The king addressed the Cop28 UN climate summit on Friday and acknowledged that this year has been the hottest on record. He expressed concern that record-breaking events are happening so frequently that we may no longer fully grasp their significance. He urged for a moment of reflection to understand the implications of our actions, as we are pushing the natural world beyond safe boundaries and into unknown, hazardous territory.
In his introductory address urging leaders to make Cop28 a significant moment of change, he cautioned: “We are conducting an immense and alarming experiment by altering every ecological factor simultaneously, at a rate that exceeds nature’s capacity to adapt… Our decision now is more clear and ominous: how much risk are we truly willing to take with our world?”
Over 130 leaders from various countries have convened in Dubai to kick off a two-week conference focused on creating a plan to prevent the world from exceeding the 1.5C (2.7F) threshold for global warming above pre-industrial levels.
The leader of the United Nations, António Guterres, stated that the world is far from meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement and is running out of time to achieve the 1.5C goal. He emphasized that leaders still have the power to make a positive impact if they demonstrate political determination.
“It’s not too late,” he reminded them. “We still have the opportunity to prevent a catastrophic impact on our planet. With the current technologies available, we can mitigate the effects of climate change, but we must take action immediately.”
Several additional nations have pledged to donate to a fund aimed at addressing the impacts of climate-related loss and damage. This fund was announced on the initial day and aims to support the recovery and reconstruction efforts of vulnerable countries affected by climate disasters. According to sources, some developing countries have expressed concerns that the current amount of $420 million in funding may not be entirely new, as some of it may come from redirected aid and loans rather than direct contributions. There are also rumors that Saudi Arabia may become the first oil-producing country to contribute to this fund.
Global leaders have officially agreed to a declaration focused on improving food systems. This is the first resolution from the Conference of Parties (COP) that specifically addresses the interconnectedness of food choices and the shifting climate. The resolution acknowledges that severe climate events are posing a growing threat to the sustainability of agriculture and food systems. It also recognizes that these impacts are particularly endangering those who are already vulnerable, as they struggle to produce and obtain food amidst rising levels of hunger, malnutrition, and financial challenges.
Over 100 countries have endorsed the declaration, vowing to incorporate food and land use into their climate strategies by 2025. This resolution has received positive feedback from small-scale and Indigenous farmers, who are responsible for one-third of the world’s food production, as well as food advocates, consumer organizations, and small business associations.
A report from the United Nations cautioned that droughts, intensified by global warming, were a “unprecedented global crisis” resulting in food shortages and famine.
According to the report, while other climate consequences like heatwaves, wildfires, and floods receive more attention, droughts have often been overlooked as “silent disasters.” The report also states that the far-reaching effects of human-caused droughts are just beginning to be seen.
According to the report, individuals who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are the most vulnerable. 85% of those impacted by droughts reside in countries with low or middle incomes.
According to the report from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, a number of nations are currently facing famine as a result of climate change. The global increase in forced migration has led to an uptick in violent water conflicts, while the essential ecological foundation that sustains all life on Earth is deteriorating at an unprecedented rate.
Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, urged developed countries to provide greater assistance. During the conference, he stated that the planet is exhausted with unmet climate pacts and that governments must take responsibility for their actions. He emphasized that no nation can tackle its issues alone and that it is necessary for all countries to work together globally.
During his speech, he emphasized that the massive amount of money allocated to weapons should instead be directed towards addressing issues such as hunger, inequality, and climate change. He also stated that the world has become accustomed to unacceptable gaps in income, gender, and race, and that it’s impossible to effectively tackle climate change without first addressing these inequalities.
He discussed the climate-related hardships occurring in the Amazon, where a devastating drought has taken place, and also mentioned the destructive cyclones that have caused death and destruction in southern Brazil.
Brazil’s energy minister announced on Thursday that the country would align more closely with the world’s biggest oil cartel, Opec, but Lula said it was necessary to “work for an economy less dependent on fossil fuels”.
Kenyan President William Ruto acknowledged that his region is also experiencing the devastating consequences of climate change.
“According to his statement, eastern Africa has experienced devastating floods after enduring the worst drought in over four decades. He also mentioned that this year’s extreme weather has resulted in loss of lives, destruction of communities, infrastructure, and disrupted supply chains.”
He stated that it is crucial for the world to invest in both green energy and infrastructure in Africa. He also mentioned that disregarding Africa’s developmental and industrial requirements is no longer a feasible stance. Transforming Africa into a leader in sustainable energy is not only necessary for the continent, but also for worldwide industrial development and reducing carbon emissions.
The UK’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is attending the conference alongside European leaders such as Emmanuel Macron, president of France, and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission. Also in attendance are developing country leaders like Narendra Modi, prime minister of India.
Sunak stated at the conference that the increasing scientific research and evidence of climate-related catastrophes demonstrate the need for quicker action. He also emphasized that there is room for improvement from everyone. However, he acknowledged that he had reversed some of the UK’s efforts towards decarbonisation, citing the goal of reducing expenses for households.
A veteran attendee of the Cop summit from the UK noted that the delegates were primarily concerned with Sunak’s actions, particularly his efforts to promote new North Sea oil and gas licenses, rather than his speech.
They stated that whatever Sunak may say today is irrelevant. They expressed their disappointment in the fact that their country, which once led in climate action, is now regressing.
The discussions among global leaders will extend throughout the weekend. Afterwards, their representatives will work out the remaining details of an agreement within the next 10 days. There are still significant gaps to be resolved, such as how to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels and how to ensure that major polluters commit to more aggressive measures in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.