King Charles needs to be 'realistic' about Commonwealth's goals on climate change


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King Charles may be able to take advantage of the Commonwealth as a valuable tool when facing international crises but the monarch needs to be “realistic” about what the institution can achieve, an expert has suggested. A Commonwealth expert spoke exclusively to about the future of the establishment, which the late Queen once said “cannot be taken for granted”.

There are many opportunities for the institution to evolve to reflect the ideas of our time but there will also be challenges for the new King to face.

Dr Sue Onslow, Director & Reader in Commonwealth History at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, offered an insight into the issues that could define the future relationship between the Crown and Commonwealth.

Climate change and sustainability is a cause close to Charles’s heart and affects many Commonwealth nations around the world as they “bear the brunt of severe climate events and rising sea levels”.

However, as Dr Onslow pointed out, there are “tensions between small states, and small island developing states” and “the ‘big emitters’, such as India and Australia”.

While acknowledging that the Commonwealth has a “strong track record” on climate change, the question of climate reparations is still in its infancy as a viable solution to help countries facing the worst of global temperature changes.

Last week, a new UN agreement was made with the aim of paying compensation from large emitters to countries enduring a disproportionate amount of the damage created.

At the COP27 summit, the UK supported talks surrounding climate reparations, although it remains to be seen how such a deal could work without the support of the US and China.

READ MORE: Royal Christmas traditions – Inside the three-day Sandringham event

“Commonwealth supporters need to be realistic about what the Commonwealth can and cannot do.

“It is more than a diplomatic network, and can contribute to problem solving.

“It will be up to Commonwealth governments to demonstrate they value the Commonwealth connection, and for Commonwealth networks of professional and civil society organisations to press governments into reform.”



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