Queen’s COP26 speech: Monarch urges world leaders to act for ‘our children’s children’ at UN Climate Change summit
The royal, 95, had been scheduled to attend the Glasgow opening ceremony in person but was advised not to travel following a short hospital stay last week
The 95-year-old monarch appeared via video link from Windsor Castle, in a pre-recorded video.
‘Source of great pride’
Appearing in a green dress, her majesty also praised her late husband for his forward-thinking approach to climate change during his lifetime.
She described Prince Philip as “my dear late husband,” while also expressing the “source of great pride” he brought through his important role in encouraging people to look after the natural world.
She added that she “could not be more proud” of the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge who have continued his work.
Philip was an environmentalist since the early 1970s, raising awareness of climate change long before it was a globally recognised issue.
He was president of the WWF – World Wildlife Fund – from 1981 to 1996 and famously drove an eco-friendly taxi around the streets of London decades before green vehicles were more widely used.
In an honest and sobering message, she added that “none of us will live forever,” but that the focus of world leaders must be on solving the planet’s climate change issues for the benefit of “our children’s children”.
The Queen also commented on the proactive role of young people, stating: “…I have drawn great comfort and inspiration from the relentless enthusiasm of people of all ages – especially the young – in calling for everyone to play their part.”
‘Triumph over the greatest of adversities’
Despite expressing her gratitude for those who have taken action, she also raised concerns about the need for immediate action to be taken around the world.
She said the summit’s legacy would be that they recognised “the time for words has now moved to the time for action”.
“In the coming days, the world has the chance to join in the shared objective of creating a safer, stabler future for our people and for the planet on which we depend,” she added. “None of us underestimates the challenges ahead: but history has shown that when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope. Working side by side, we have the ability to solve the most insurmountable problems and to triumph over the greatest of adversities.
She then asked that leaders rise above the politics and work together, saying: “I, for one, hope that this conference will be one of those rare occasions where everyone will have the chance to rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship.
“It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit – written in history books yet to be printed – will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity; and that you answered the call of those future generations.
“That you left this conference as a community of nations with a determination, a desire, and a plan, to address the impact of climate change; and to recognise that the time for words has now moved to the time for action.”
‘The situation will become increasingly intolerable’
Her majesty also said she was happy for Glasgow to host COP26, as the “impact of the environment on human progress” was a subject close to Philip’s heart.
She added: “I remember well that in 1969, he told an academic gathering: ‘If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time… If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.’
“It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them.”