UnNeutral | King Charles III: A King not cool with global warming

King Charles III: A King not cool with global warming

// Hidden Stories Series

King Charles III: A King not cool with global warming

October 17, 2022
No matter what you thought about our former reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, no one could deny that she played the role of impartiality extremely well.

The mere thought of the Queen expressing an opinion or political bias was simply unimaginable during her reign — a notion that was repeated multiple times during the days of mourning that followed her death on 8th September, 2022.

What we’re not so sure of, is whether the same will apply to her successor: King Charles III.

Love him or hate him, Charles has always been outwardly passionate about climate change, and those views don’t look to be changing anytime soon.

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In 1970, the then Prince of Wales made a speech warning of the dangers of pollution, and said society must deal urgently with the cost of cleaning it up and preventing it in the first place. It was at the event where he famously voiced how “we are faced at this moment with the horrifying effects of pollution in all its cancerous forms. There is the growing menace of oil pollution at sea, which almost destroys beaches and certainly destroys tens of thousands of seabirds.”

Toni Juniper, a former chief of Friends of the Earth and now head of Natural England — who advised Charles for several years and co-authored two books with him — heralds him as “possibly the most significant environmental figure of all time.”

The newly appointed King of England set up the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group in 2005, bringing together business leaders to sign up to green pledges. The group has been known to stand in the gap often left by the government, inviting the US special envoy on climate John Kerry to Clarence House in London in the run up to Cop26 ahead of Kerry’s major speech at Kew Gardens which the sitting government failed to send a minister to.

King Charles also worked on the Terra Carta (also known as the Earth Charter) — a seal recognising organisations which have made a serious commitment to a future that is much more sustainable, and puts nature, people and the planet at the heart of the economy. The charity’s statement of intent outlines the voluntary commitments expected, including supporting international agreements on the climate, biodiversity and desertification, backing efforts to protect half of the planet by 2050, and making investments and financial flows consistent with a future of low greenhouse gas emissions.

All of this leads us to be shocked that shortly after his ascension to the throne, King Charles has abandoned plans to attend the Cop27 climate change summit later this year, under the reported advice of Liz Truss. The monarch had been invited to speak at the 27th meeting by the Egyptian hosts in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Despite his extensive experience and knowledge, the prime minister is understood to have raised objections during a personal audience at Buckingham Palace last month, according to numerous sources including The Times. With the expectation that reigning monarchs remain impartial on such topics (as we saw stoically at times from his late mother), this was arguably to be expected, However, rarely has there ever been a moment of public disagreement with the government, particularly around the climate debate — a topic that rarely sees such a unanimous reaction across the nation.

Sources say that the decision was made on the government’s advice and was “entirely in the spirit of being ever-mindful as King that he acts on government advice”. However, it remains “under active discussion” about how King Charles will make his presence felt at Cop27, which runs next month, from the 6th to 18th November.

For many climate campaigners, there was an underlying excitement that the ascension of the new King could lead to a more proactive and determined voice behind the fight against climate change from Buckingham Palace. As the King of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, he has the power to be incredibly influential both socially and politically.

Despite this latest U-turn just moments before Cop27, we hope that our newly appointed sovereign leader will continue to lead in the way he has led much of his life, bucking the trend of the more passive role that the royals have traditionally played, and entering us into a new — hopefully greener — era.

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