Senior royals to attend Cop26 as UK ‘pulls out all the stops’ in climate change fight

Britain is to "pull out all the stops" to convince critical nations including China to do their bit for climate change as the most senior members of the Royal family plan to attend the Cop26 conference en masse.

The royals command significant respect in nations essential to solving climate change and are understood to be keen to do their bit to push world leaders to make and keep pledges to save the environment.

Alok Sharma, the conference president, has said China, the "biggest emitter in the world", will have to be a key part of any agreement, adding that the "ball is in their court" to make the talks a success.

It is understood that Chinese negotiators are to attend the conference, but the attendance of Xi Jinping, the president, has not been confirmed.

The Queen, who at the age of 95 now rarely travels, is to attend next the Glasgow conference for a diplomatic reception, joined by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince Charles and Prince William are expected to address the conference as well as hold talks with key world leaders.

Experts say the attendance of the Royal Family will boost the image of Britain taking climate talks seriously, with Prince Charles expected to lead on talks urging key international partners to contribute to the fight against climate change. The monarchy commands admiration in countries considered key to solving the problems facing the planet.

A study by Ipsos Mori in 2018 found 30 per cent of those surveyed in China felt the Royal family gives them a more positive view of Britain. Thirty-eight per cent felt "more positive" in India, with the Queen the most popular family member in both countries.

Convincing China to sign up to climate change measures is considered a crucial aim of Cop26. 

Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said: "The more the UK looks like it’s taking this seriously, the more other countries will want to be seen to match that. So yes, I think it’s entirely helpful to have such a strong showing from the Royal family.

"Prince Charles, and increasingly Prince William, have shown a particular interest in this area. Prince Charles is definitely recognised around the world as a deep thinker on these issues, and having a track record of having been interested in this for a long, long time. So it’s not just the symbolism – they are people of substance on these issues.

"It’s very difficult given all the other tensions with China at the moment. So again, I think if the Royal family are able to create a strong engagement with the Chinese leadership whilst they are here, that will help."

Gareth Redmond-King, the Cop26 communication and engagement lead at independent environment adviser the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: "The rest of the world will know the high regard we have for the royal family here in the UK, and the Queen in particular is very well-respected around the world.

"As host of the UN climate summit in November, it demonstrates the seriousness with which the UK is taking its responsibility that the Queen and other senior members of the royal family will be there in Glasgow to welcome world leaders and show their commitment to the outcome of this, the biggest and most important diplomatic summit in the UK in living memory.

"It should indicate that the UK is pulling out all the diplomatic stops and is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that we leave Glasgow with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming to 1.5C within reach."

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