Charles III spoke about global warming in 1970. Is he our king of climate change?

By Rachel Koning Beals

King Charles III told last year’s UN conference in Glasgow that even more spending would be needed to curb climate change than some countries imagine – and that the effort must permeate the economy world

He powers one of his personal cars with white wine and whey. He proudly hosted world leaders on his own turf in Glasgow last year for a United Nations climate conference that some saw as a tipping point for action to slow global warming. And now King Charles assumes the throne and his figurative leadership as Britain prepares for a harsh winter amid a global energy crisis.

Charles III, who automatically became king when Queen Elizabeth died earlier this month, awaits his ceremonial coronation. However, for many, he has already been crowned “king of the climate”.

Read: Britain and the world will bury Queen Elizabeth II

And: When is King Charles’ coronation? Here’s why the world may be waiting a while to see a coronation ceremony

In an interview with the left-leaning Guardian, British environmentalist Tony Jupiter ventured to suggest that Charles III is “probably the most important environmental figure of all time”.

David Callaway, longtime markets veteran and founder of Callaway Climate Insights, says a young Charles addressed global warming in a speech as early as 1970.

Charles, in fact, embraced alternative fuels – biofuels and other options intended to wean the world off gasoline – for at least some of his personal driving.

He once told the BBC, “My old Aston Martin, which I’ve had for 51 years, runs, can you believe it, on a surplus of English white wine and whey from the cheese-making process. ”

Read:King Charles III thanks his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, for her years of service in his first address as monarch

Emily Atkin, editor of the “Heated” climate change newsletter, says she wants more people to be invited to comment on Charles’s “climate fighter” status. Of the 10 most climate-vulnerable nations, eight are former British colonies, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.

“While Charles acknowledged the general injustice of the monarchy’s colonial legacy, he did not link that legacy to growing global climate injustice,” Atkin wrote in his latest issue.

Atkin noted that Charles drew attention to the plight of the Caribbean, so often in line with hurricanes that typically hold more water and increase in frequency due to global warming.

Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, president of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, was softer on the new king’s climate status.

“[Charles] succeeded in making conservation, adaptation and mitigation issues in the UK and its colonialist territories a focal point,” she said. “This includes the investment of his time, his ceremonial power and his convening ability to draw attention to the environment.

But for Toles O’Laughlin, the legacy of colonization and its impact on environmental justice are not relegated to the past. Indeed, poorer or still developing economies are home to many resources that rich countries use, while the developing world pollutes less per capita than the developed world.

“Decolonization is not just an exercise in thinking, it’s a lens that, fixed in the present, makes the future less bloody, brutal, hot and short,” Toles O’Laughlin tweeted earlier this month. . “And there is a need to move from diversity to equity in the environment and in all other areas.”

“A foot of war”

Certainly, the many years leading up to this change of direction have repeatedly revealed Charles’ interest in environmental issues. “Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different [from the cross-border threat of COVID-19]”, Prince Charles said at the time in 2021. “In fact, they pose an even greater existential threat in that we have to put ourselves on what you might call a war footing.

Britain’s heir to the throne was addressing the leaders of the world’s richest and most powerful nations to reconsider what to date has been a willful, by many arguments slow, struggle to slow global warming climate, calm the rise of the oceans and stop deforestation. He addressed the UN Conference of the Parties, or COP26, a two-week event on climate change in Glasgow late last year.

This is not the first time that the current King Charles III has pushed for a global effort to combat global warming. In September 2020, for example, Charles called for a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and the planet.”

Charles told the Glasgow rally that it would take greater expenditure to adequately curb climate change than some countries imagine, but that the effort must permeate the global economy. He urged “countries to come together to create the environment that enables every industry sector to take the necessary action. We know it will take trillions, not billions of dollars.”

The royal relied on a recent ‘code red’ report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which he said had provided ‘a clear diagnosis of the scale of the problem – we know what we have to do”.

For Charles, climate change is not just a passing fancy; his past remarks got quite specific about politics.

Efforts to cut emissions must include pollution from coal-fired power stations, he said at the Glasgow summit. Western nations have stressed the need for China, India and others to take a tougher line on burning coal.

Charles also said then that “putting a value on carbon, thus making carbon capture solutions more economical, is therefore absolutely critical”.

Charles and other members of the royal family are criticized for the large carbon footprint of flights and other secure transport that their official duties require. The family urged dignitaries and business notables to travel to the Queen’s services on commercial airlines and to travel collectively by bus to events, not to rely on low-passenger private jets with footprints significant carbon.

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Winter is coming

It may also be obvious that Charles is aware that he cannot step on official policy. Asked by the BBC last year if the UK was doing enough to tackle climate change, he replied: ‘I couldn’t comment.

Of course, after the change in the leadership of the ruling party, official policy could deviate from the king’s personal beliefs.

The just ousted prime minister, Boris Johnson, was an advocate of renewables and helped Britain become a world leader in offshore wind power. His successor, Liz Truss, thinks fossil fuels — those tagged to create Earth-warming emissions — still rule. In fact, she appointed climate change skeptic Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staple on the far right of the Conservative Party, as Minister for Trade, Energy and Industrial Strategy, a powerful political niche. energy and climate. Rees-Mogg once said that the world’s population should drill “every last drop” of oil.

Read: Death of Queen Elizabeth II mourned as ‘irreparable loss’ around the world: ‘It’s a huge shock,’ says UK Prime Minister Liz Truss

Truss pledged to lift the nation’s ban on fracking and approve more oil drilling in the North Sea, two moves aimed at ensuring ‘the energy supply is more resilient and secure’ in the face of pressure on world energy markets by Russia “Putin’s terrible war in Ukraine.”

Truss” will also know that [Charles’s] opinions are widely held by his subjects, although they are inclined to laugh at stories like his reported enjoyment of talking to plants on his estates,” said Callaway, the climate newsletter’s editor. “Truss will ignore his opinions at his own risk.”

As he mourns the loss of the queen, the new king, who turns 74 in November, may feel another loss: ground lost on progress on climate change, according to some political analysts. Keeping world leaders focused on the next critical years and decades to tackle climate change, even in the face of current struggles, can be his responsibility, and in large part, his own legacy.

“Unlike his mother, Charles is an outspoken activist. He will ruffle feathers, especially on the right. He risks being portrayed as an elitist dilettante, but the [‘green’] the movement needs a leader – and the logical choice, [California Gov.] Gavin Newsom, is tainted by the perception that crime is out of control in California,” said Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments.

Valliere says climate change features in recently passed US legislation will impact “green” spending for the next decade. It’s a sign of how serious the world is, alongside Britain’s king, on climate change.

Proponents of the law rightly cite that much of the United States and Europe burned down this summer; obviously there is a climate crisis,” Vallière said. “But the prospect of a long cold winter has deeply riled political leaders from the United States to Germany to England. They are scrambling to store fossil fuels, and an understated story is that most consumer countries might be able to get by in a cold winter.”

Because the threat of Russian gas embargoes has had a huge impact on the West, the focus is on new nuclear power plants, oil and gas pipelines and refining capacity, and less on modernizing a vintage English grand tourer for a new era.

“Will Charles be a militant or a pragmatist?” Valliere asks. “If he scolds fossil fuel consumers, his honeymoon will be brief.”

-Rachel Koning Beals


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09-19-22 1645ET

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Teresa H. Sadler