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- Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
Just two weeks before the United Kingdom is set to host the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II was heard venting over the lack of coordinated action being taken to address global warming, calling it “irritating.”
Overheard Thursday during the opening of the Welsh parliament, the queen remarked that she still didn’t “know who is coming” to the conference. The United Nations has warned that the upcoming gathering of world leaders and their representatives is the last best chance to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. Beyond that threshold, climate scientists warn, extreme weather events will become commonplace, and drought and sea level rise will pose threats almost unimaginable to past generations.
“We only know about people who are not coming,” the queen was heard remarking. “It’s really irritating when they talk but they don’t do.”
The queen is not the only member of the royal family to speak out on the need to address climate change. In a Wednesday interview with the BBC, her grandson Prince William expressed frustration that mankind seemed more interested in space travel ventures by billionaires like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and former Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson than in solving the climate crisis.
“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said. “I think that ultimately is what sold it for me — that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future.”
William’s father, Prince Charles, said in an interview this week that he understood the anger and cynicism that has boiled over from young climate activists like Greta Thunberg, who have demanded that world leaders take dramatic action to curb global warming.
“Of course I do, yes,” he said. “All these young people feel nothing is ever happening, so of course they’re going to get frustrated. I totally understand because nobody would listen, and they see their future being totally destroyed.”
On Tuesday, Thunberg made clear that her expectations for Glasgow were limited.
“My expectation is that we will hear many, many nice speeches, we will hear many pledges that if you really look into the details are more or less meaningless, and then I expect things to continue to remain the same,” she told Reuters.
On what she would consider a success for the conference, Thunberg said, “Honesty, that we highlight the gap between what we are saying and what we are actually doing.”
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