In a powerful address at the opening of COP28 in Dubai, His Majesty The King underscored the urgent need for collective action to address the escalating climate crisis. The monarch expressed gratitude to His Highness Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the invitation and emphasized the importance of building on the momentum generated by the landmark Paris Agreement eight years ago.
His Majesty reflected on decades of warnings about the existential threats posed by global warming, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Despite some progress, alarming indicators, such as a 30% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and almost forty percent more methane, underscored the pressing need for decisive action. The Global Stocktake report highlighted the world’s concerning deviation from the necessary path.
The King drew attention to the real-time consequences faced by vulnerable communities worldwide, emphasizing the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. From cyclones battering island nations to unprecedented floods in South Asia and prolonged drought in East Africa, the impacts of climate change are becoming devastatingly apparent.
Referring to the critical choices ahead, His Majesty stressed the need for a zero-carbon future while equally championing a Nature-positive approach. The King warned against the dangers of pushing the natural world beyond balanced norms and into uncharted territory, describing it as a “vast, frightening experiment.”
As the world witnesses record-breaking events, including the warmest global average temperature this past Northern Hemisphere Summer, His Majesty called for a pause to understand the gravity of the situation. He urged a global commitment to repairing and restoring nature’s delicate balance to ensure the survival of economies and communities.
The King challenged leaders and negotiators at COP28 with five key questions:
- Strengthening Multilateral Organizations: How can existing multilateral organizations be adapted to meet the current climate crisis, and how can public, private, philanthropic, and NGO sectors collaborate more effectively?
- Financial Mobilization: How can the private sector be actively involved, alongside a fair international financial system, to mobilize the trillions of dollars needed for the required transformation?
- Redirecting Finance: How can finance be directed towards sustainable developments while diverting from practices that increase global risks?
- Accelerating Innovation: How can the deployment of renewable energy, clean technology, and green alternatives be expedited to ensure a swift transition across all industries?
- Coherent, Long-term Approaches: How can different solutions and initiatives be harmonized to ensure coherent, long-term approaches across sectors, countries, and industries?
His Majesty concluded by emphasizing the need for an ambitious vision for the next century, drawing on the ingenuity of societies, especially the youth, artists, engineers, communicators, and Indigenous peoples. He urged COP28 participants to meet the challenge with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency at hand.
In a poignant reminder, His Majesty highlighted that the decisions made at COP28 would shape the future for generations to come, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living things and the responsibility to maintain harmony with nature.
As the world looks towards COP28 for hope, the King’s call to action resonates as a powerful rallying cry for a sustainable and resilient future. The decisions made in the coming days will undoubtedly impact the world our grandchildren inherit.