King Charles holds round-table climate talks with Cop28 team

Dr Sultan Al Jaber said a key goal of November's climate conference is to keep the 1.5°C global warming limit within reach

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-designate of Cop28, sits with King Charles III, far right, at the Climate Innovation Forum. PA
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King Charles III held round-table talks at London's Guildhall with key leaders on climate action as part of the lead-up to the Cop28 summit opening in the UAE in November.

During London Climate Action Week, King Charles presided over the inauguration of a countdown clock marking the deadline set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Cop28 President-designate, also attended the event.

Hosting the meeting demonstrated the UK monarch's dedication to climate action and meeting the challenges imposed by rising temperatures, the Cop28 organisers said. “The ‘Accelerating the Speed & Scale of the Green Transition’ round-table [was] hosted by His Majesty King Charles III to discuss the potential and implementation of green tech solutions for climate progress,” a tweet said.

The Climate Innovation Forum event with King Charles included representatives of governments, businesses and academia and was held before a ceremony attended by 1,500 delegates in the medieval Great Hall.

Scientists have said limiting global temperature rises is vital to ensuring a safe and liveable planet, as even sticking to the 1.5°C limit offers only a 50-50 chance of avoiding catastrophic tipping points that would heat the Earth beyond human control.

Dr Al Jaber said a key goal of Cop28 is to keep this target within reach. “If we are going to cut emissions by 43 per cent in the next seven years, we need a holistic ecosystem that connects policy, technology, finance and people,” he said during his London meetings. “We need supportive policies to stimulate adoption of clean energies and incentivise decarbonisation. We obviously need to apply the latest technologies rapidly and at scale.

“That will require finance and lots of capital across the world, and particularly in emerging and developing economies. And a critical success factor is people.”

A dominating image of the climate countdown will be broadcast in London’s Piccadilly Circus for five days.

Nick Henry, chief executive and founder of Climate Action, said the national climate clock switch-on was designed to bring forward action from across the UK.

“This powerful illustration of the scale of the climate emergency also reminds us there is still time to avert disaster,” he said. “It is vital that we embrace the pro-growth opportunity of the net-zero transition and turn ambition into transformational action.”

Graham Stuart, the UK's Cop28 envoy and net-zero minister, answered criticism that the country has lost momentum in the climate challenge, saying it had decarbonised more than any other major economy on Earth.

“But it’s not enough, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re funding innovation,” he said.

A Breakthrough Agenda on technology solutions has been put at the heart of the upcoming summit.

King Charles met climate action pioneers such as representatives from Futraheat, which works to capture and reuse waste heat from industrial processes, and Arda Biomaterials, which turns feedstocks into materials for fashion, home goods and other industries.

While in London, Dr Al Jaber visited Octopus Energy which has partnered with the UAE to license its groundbreaking technology platform, Kraken, to manage its battery portfolio at low cost and with maximum efficiency. UAE firm Masdar, which sponsored the Climate Forum, has also invested £1 billion in British battery storage, following its acquisition of London-based Arlington Energy.

Another round-table participant, Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said the climate challenge dwarfs the Covid-19 pandemic that his firm fought.

“This is not only a crisis that will happen in 20 or 30 years, this is a crisis that is here today,” he said. “The pandemic globally cost seven million lives. And, of course, it’s an awfully large number of people dying from Covid but actually, pollution and climate change cost us seven to nine million lives every year.

“And some people would think OK, well this is something that is happening in faraway countries due to flooding, drought, extreme temperatures, but it is actually here, it’s affecting us all.”

Hosted by Shamma Al Mazrui, COP28 Youth Climate Champion, Dr Al Jaber sought views from young people at a specially convened round-table to shape the agenda at the conference in November. One of the subjects was how the President-designate can help to ensure the process and outcomes can be more inclusive and equitable.

“Your generation is critical, because you will inherit some of the greatest challenges of climate change and will also provide many of the solutions,” he said. “Your perspectives must be heard.”

Updated: June 29, 2023, 1:00 PM