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Opening ceremony of the UN climate summit: King Charles III calls for action


Rafiq Maqbool / AP

At the start of the World Conference, King Charles addressed the approximately 140 participating heads of state and government for the first time as monarch. He said he was touched when asked to speak at the opening of COP21 in Paris, which culminated in the landmark Paris Agreement, adding: "I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another crucial turning point towards real transformational action, at a time when we are already, as scientists have long warned, are reaching alarming tipping points."

He is very concerned that humanity has strayed so far from the path of tackling the climate crisis: "If we do not quickly repair and restore the harmony and balance of nature's economy that ultimately sustains us, our own economy and viability will be at risk."

King Charles is among the leaders and politicians attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, also known as COP28. He is on site on behalf of the UK Government and at the invitation of the host, the United Arab Emirates.

Charles is considered a green pioneer: For decades, the current British king has warned against overexploitation of nature and, for example, switched to organic farming on his estates in Great Britain very early on.

You can read the 23 most important questions and answers about the UN Climate Change Conference here in our COP FAQ.

Fossil Energy: Not Reduction, but Closure Required

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also spoke at the start of the summit. He has called for a rapid end to the use of fossil fuels. "We can't save a burning planet with a fossil fuel fire hose," Guterres said in Dubai. Instead, the switch to renewable energies must be accelerated.

The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius can only be met if "we stop burning all fossil fuels," Guterres said. It is not a question of a reduction, but of an end, said the UN Secretary-General, referring to the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Nothing other than "the fate of humanity" is at stake.

Guterres also addressed companies in the fossil fuel industry directly. They should "say goodbye to an outdated business model". Governments should support this through appropriate legal frameworks, pricing of CO₂ emissions and an end to subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Two weeks for more climate justice

Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began his speech with a quote from Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai. "The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price," she said. Lula was referring to the issue of climate justice and the amount of money that rich countries have pledged to help developing countries adapt.

The Loss and Damage Fund (L&D) is intended to help. The money is to be used to support and compensate severely affected nations. Germany and the United Arab Emirates recently announced their intention to boost the disaster fund for poor countries. A total of 200 million dollars is to be made available for this purpose.

During the Climate Change Conference, the 198 Parties (197 countries plus the European Union) will meet in Dubai to discuss global climate goals and responsibilities. More than 70,000 participants are expected. Among them are heads of state and government, ministers, civil servants, business representatives, researchers, NGOs, indigenous people and activists from all over the world. The conference generally lasts two weeks. However, it is not uncommon for the conference to be extended by a few days in order to reach a joint final declaration in the last few metres.