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King Charles opens COP28 climate summit with prayer for the future

IN DUBAI – The current generation of leaders must tackle climate change for the sake of their grandchildren, the King warned on Friday as he opened a COP summit that will see pressure mount on the world’s biggest polluters to clean up their act.

The two-week COP28 in Dubai will culminate in a “stocktake” where the progress that all countries are making towards reducing carbon emissions is formally measured.

China and India in particular are widely seen as doing too little – while wealthy countries have admitted they need to start paying compensation to those worst hit by global warming which they have done almost nothing to cause.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, King Charles said: “I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.

He concluded: “After all, ladies and gentlemen, in 2050 our grandchildren won’t be asking what we said, they will be living with the consequences of what we did or didn’t do. So if we act together to safeguard our precious planet, the welfare of all our people will surely follow.”

Rishi Sunak praised the monarch, saying: “I think it speaks volumes about our type of leadership as a country that we’ve got our head of state there, delivering a call to arms in the opening statement which speaks volumes about the respect that he’s got on this issue around the world.”

However, Sir Keir Starmer, who is also at the summit, said he was speaking to foreign leaders who are concerned about the current British Government.

He told reporters: “They want reassurance that an incoming Labour government will ensure that the UK is leading again on the international stage. There is some despondency, I have to be honest, about what many partners see as backward steps in the last two or three years by this Government.

“They are concerned to see the current PM looking as though he’s in retreat on climate change.

“That is something that he may think is relevant for the small politics of party politics. But on the international stage that is read as a signal that he is not willing to play the leadership role that is needed.”

Negotiators from the more than 100 countries represented at the summit are working towards the stocktake, which is seen as the biggest diplomatic sticking point.

They have also pledged to bolster a “loss and damage” fund designed to transfer cash from the large wealthy countries which bear the most historic responsibility for the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, to the small nations which are most exposed to its effects.

The fund currently stands at £400m, of which a tenth was contributed by the UK, but it is designed to grow rapidly in the coming years once a framework for how it operates has been established.

The United Arab Emirates, which is hosting the summit, has been accused of using the event to promote its own oil interests during meetings with world leaders and businesses.

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