King Charles says COP28 must be climate 'turning point'

King Charles says COP28 must be climate 'turning point'

King Charles III told world leaders on Friday that the UN's COP28 climate talks in Dubai must be a "critical turning point" in the fight against climate change, with "genuine transformational action".

Charles kicked off two days of speeches by heads of state and government in the sun-soaked Gulf city of Dubai, where the future of fossil fuels has taken centre stage.

"I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action," Charles told assembled leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth," said the king, a lifelong environmentalist, who missed last year's COP27 in Egypt reportedly due to objections by then UK prime minister Liz Truss.

The COP28 conference opened on Thursday with an early victory as nations agreed to launch a "loss and damage" fund for vulnerable countries devastated by natural disasters.

But delegates face two weeks of tough negotiations on an array of issues that have long bedevilled climate talks, starting with the future of oil, gas and coal.

Phase down vs phase out

A first draft of the agreement being negotiated by nearly 200 countries includes language on a "phasedown/out" of fossil fuels, which account for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions.

The sense of urgency was heightened by a UN warning that 2023 is on track to become the hottest year on record, raising fears the world will not meet the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"The science is clear: the 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Activists have raised concerns about the influence of the energy industry lobby at COP28 as the conference is chaired by Sultan Al Jaber, who is also head of the UAE's national oil company.