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'The Queen is nailing her colours to the mast on climate and we respect that' says Christian charity

by Donna Birrell

The head of conservation at the Christian environmental charity, A Rocha UK says the Queen is right to express frustration at a lack of action on climate change.

The Queen was overheard in Cardiff yesterday saying she feels irritated and doesn't know which world leaders will be the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow next month.

Andy Lester from A Rocha UK told Premier he welcomes the Queen's comments.

He said: "We thoroughly enjoy reading that the Queen has been overheard and she will not be overheard unless she wanted to be overheard. So her comments about the frustration around leadership and the COP26 is justified. It's well placed and it's well timed.

"It's basically a message to those leaders who are using this as a kind of political grandstanding match, to say, this is about the survival of the planet, it's about the survival of the human race, it's about the survival of biodiversity - and  yet you still can't decide whether you're there or not. And if you are there, it's all about conversations about which celebrities are going to be there and which leaders are going to be there and who's going to jostle for the right positions. And that is all wrong. 

"The Queen is one of most well-known women in the world, she can afford to say that, but the reality is she, along with a lot of the royal family, know exactly what is at stake, and are willing to nail their colours to the mast very boldly and strongly. We respect that."

COP26 is being held in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November, but there is still uncertainty over which leaders will be attending. The Australian Prime Minister has confirmed he will be there, after saying he was undecided. The US President, Joe Biden has also confirmed, however, there remains uncertainty over whether the Chinese President, Xi Jinping will attend - some reports say he is set to snub the event altogether. 

 Andy Lester says a climate conference without the head of one of the world's biggest polluters is unthinkable.

"For those who are in authority, we would simply say this, that a major climate summit without the Chinese leader is totally unacceptable. He needs to be there. The one thing I would say is that the more leadership are there, the ones who are left out, will look at it and think, 'well, I've got to be there, because I'm going to look stupid on the world stage. 197 leaders are there and I'm not.'

"So there is a certain amount of peer pressure. I'm still of the opinion that he (the Chinese President) will get there in the end. 

"We're running out of time and it's about what we can achieve. And it's about what we collectively do to act. Many of the decisions will have already been made in the run up to COP26. The remaining decisions that are still to be made will be made behind closed doors and out of the gaze of media."

Earlier this week, Prince William said people should concentrate on looking after the planet rather than pioneering space tourism.

Andy Lester believes this is an opportunity for churches to get involved and make the issue a priority.

"How can we really make a difference? Beyond our frustration, with folks jetting off, William Shatner heading off on his rocket into space, and Chinese leaders not being there?

"The big thing for us is to say, get on board with Climate Sunday. If you haven't had a Climate Sunday service, sign up to that and get your church leader to sign up to a declaration of intent. 

"We want change at scale as a faith community. We also need to look at major nature-based solutions in our churches and cathedrals, in our church yards, in our gardens, where we are using nature to help bring about the solutions to change that we need. The critical thing is, let's stop pointing fingers at Jeff Bezos and at the Chinese leadership and start by saying, 'what can we do and what can we do now and what can we do at scale as the faith community?'"

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