LONDON (AP) — On a blustery day last November, Britain’s future king stood before world leaders with a call that they should “act with full force and decisiveness” against a common enemy. .
Trumpets blared in the expansive, windowless halls of the Glasgow Conference Centre at the opening of the UN climate conference on issues long cherished by then-Prince Charles.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, he said. “In fact, they pose a greater existential threat to the point that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.”
He warned leaders that time was running out to reduce emissions, urging them to push for reforms that “fundamentally transform our current fossil fuel-based economy into a truly renewable and sustainable one”.
“We need a massive military operation to bring together the power of the global private sector,” he said, adding that the trillions of dollars at the disposal of corporations would be far beyond what governments can muster and provide “to achieve the basic economic the only real prospect”. transition. “
It was a fierce call to battle, quite different from the mild one his mother Queen Elizabeth II made in a video message that night.
Charles has been one of Britain’s most prominent environmental voices for decades, slamming the ills of pollution. Now that he is a monarch, his words must be more cautious and, in the tradition of British constitutional monarchies, must stay away from politics and government policy.
“Charles is now king and his freedom of movement will be very small,” said Robert Hazel, an expert on British constitutional affairs at University College London.
“All of his speeches were written or censored by the government,” Hazel said. “If he makes off-the-cuff remarks that are inconsistent with government policy, the press will jump on him to point out inconsistencies, and the government will stop him; he will have to be as outspoken as he has been in the past.”
Still, many said he was unlikely to suddenly stop discussing climate change and the environment — especially since they are issues that transcend political ideology.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said last week It is “entirely acceptable” for the monarch to advocate for climate action, even if his role is intended to be apolitical.
“It’s important for the monarchy to distance itself from issues of party politics,” Albanese told the ABC, “but I think if he chooses to keep making statements in the field, I think on issues like climate change, I think that’s perfectly acceptable. of.”
“It should be something beyond politics that requires action on climate change,” he added.
Remaining silent on climate could be particularly tricky for Charles, given the conflicting positions of the current Conservative government. While the government said it remained committed to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by mid-century, Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said Britain should continue to burn fossil fuels at its disposal.
“We need to think about every cubic inch of gas we extract from the North Sea,” he said in a recent radio interview, citing the need for energy security.
In the past, Rees-Mogg has spoken out against building more onshore wind farms in the UK and questioned the climate impact of rising carbon dioxide emissions, although experts say the warming effect of rising carbon dioxide levels is clear.
Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, is also in favor of developing the country’s natural gas reserves, including fracking in parts of the UK to increase the country’s domestic gas supply and reduce its reliance on international gas prices. Earlier this month, the Truss government lifted a 2019 ban on the controversial practice of fracking shale gas in the UK.
As environment secretary in 2014, Truss called large-scale solar farms “a disaster on the landscape”, removing subsidies for farmers and landowners to build them.
In a 2018 BBC documentary commemorating Charles’ 70th birthday, his sons William and Harry revealed their father’s frustration with the world’s failure to meet environmental challenges. They recalled how, as teenagers, Charles would let them pick up trash on vacation and became obsessed with the need to turn off the lights.
Such little maneuvers pale in comparison to the mileage the monarch has accrued in his lifetime flying around the world – even though he claims to have converted his Aston Martin to rely on leftover white wine and cheese.
Charles’ lament that many people “don’t pay attention to science at all” on climate change was also appealed by those who pointed out that he has long been an advocate of unproven natural remedies.
Some of Charles’ subjects want him to continue his fight against climate change, even as king.
However, the new king himself admits that his role as an eco-warrior cannot last, at least in its current form.
“I’m not that stupid,” he told the BBC four years ago when asked if he would continue his activism as before.
He explained that the prince’s battle was not the king’s battle, but he made it clear that they could still be fought by the next Prince William.
In his first speech as national sovereign on September 9, Charles emphasized that “it will no longer be possible for me to devote so much time and energy to charities and issues that I care so deeply about.”
“But I know this important work will continue in the trusted hands of others,” he added.
Like Charles, William, 40, has made climate change one of his main advocacy themes, last year by awarding his first Earthshot Award, an ambitious “legacy project” created by the prince to provide data for the environment. million pounds in grants) and shine. Initiatives around the world for the next 10 years.However, his efforts were undermined by criticism that his conservation charity had invested in a bank that is one of the world’s biggest supporters of fossil fuels.
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