Climate change: King Charles should continue Queen Elizabeth's efforts to spur the world into action – Scotsman comment
As the nation mourns Queen Elizabeth, attention has turned to King Charles, with much commentary about what kind of monarch he could and should be.
Some fear that the supposed “meddling prince” will continue to become involved in political matters that should be the preserve of our elected representatives.
And, in a constitutional monarchy, kings and queens must tread a fine line. As head of state, they are required to show a degree of leadership, but they also cannot be seen to be partisan.
Queen Elizabeth navigated the potential pitfalls well and many have rightly suggested that Charles should view her reign as the template for his own.
However there is one issue, known to be close to his heart, that he should not now put to one side. Climate change was once a matter of political contention but is no longer. The science behind the risks posed by human-induced global warming demonstrates its clear and present danger.
And, for the most part, aside from oil-rich despots, politicians of all stripes have realised that action is necessary. Some environmentalists and conservatives may disagree on how to get there but their desired end-point is the same: the preservation of the stable climate that has allowed humanity to thrive for millennia.
David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, has now warned that 345 million people face acute food insecurity in the 82 countries in a “global emergency of unprecedented magnitude” caused by rising conflict, the Ukraine war, rising fuel prices, the Covid pandemic's ongoing economic effects – and climate change. Floods, drought and wildfires are posing an increasing risk to much of the world.
Given the potentially existential threat and the cross-party support for reaching net-zero emissions, King Charles should not shy away from using his influence and platform, at home and abroad, to gather people together and galvanise the world. Indeed, it could give real meaning to his reign.
For anyone who thinks this would be a break from the traditions established by Queen Elizabeth, we would remind them that, welcoming world leaders to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, she urged them “to recognise that the time for words has now moved to the time for action”. Our new king, we humbly suggest, should continue her policy.
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