King Charles May Rock the Boat

THERE’S SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT — Ukraine’s successful counter-offensive, the Federal Reserve’s willingness to ignite a recession, the bitterly divided Republican party, etc. — but the obvious story this morning is the end of Elizabeth II’s epic reign.

WE’VE SIFTED THROUGH THOUSANDS OF WORDS on this, wondering what King Charles III will mean for America and the world. The bottom line is important: he may lead the battle for a radical environmental agenda, which has fallen out of favor as the dominance of fossil fuels continues to be a political and economic necessity.

UNLIKE HIS MOTHER, Charles is an outspoken activist. He will ruffle feathers, especially on the right. He runs the risk of becoming portrayed as an elitist dilletante, but the Green movement needs a leader — and the logical pick, Gavin Newsom, is tainted by a perception that crime is out of control in California.

WILL KING CHARLES, after a decent interval of mourning, will become too political for the U.S.? That’s a theme from Ella Creamer in this morning’s Politico; she writes that King Charles will reverse Queen Elizabeth II’s “special brand of marshmallow diplomacy — soft, sweet and distinctly apolitical — that charmed Americans over decades.”

THE RHETORIC FROM CHARLES on climate has been radical. ““The world is on the brink,” he wrote earlier this year, “and we need the mobilizing urgency of a war-like footing if we are to win.”

IT’S BEEN A ROCKY YEAR for the environmental movement. The absurdly titled “Inflation Reduction Act,” passed last month, will have an impact on Green spending for the next decade. Its proponents cite, correctly, that much of the U.S. and Europe has burned to a crisp this summer; obviously, there’s a climate crisis.

BUT THE PROSPECT OF A LONG COLD WINTER has deeply un-nerved political leaders from the U.S. to Germany to England. They’re scrambling to stockpile fossil fuels, and an under-appreciated story is that most consuming countries may be able to muddle through a cold winter.

EUROPEAN LEADERS, sensing great political peril to themselves, have cut deals with fossil fuel producers, reversing last fall’s Glasgow glow. The threat of Russian embargoes has had an enormous impact on the West. Now the focus is on new nuclear plants, pipelines and refining capacity.

THE NECESSITY OF FOSSIL FUELS is apparent just one year after the Glasgow summit, which was a Green celebration of a world that no longer will have to rely on oil and coal.

THAT CELEBRATION lasted only a few months; whether King Charles appreciates the irony will be worth watching this winter. Will Charles be an activist or a pragmatist? If he scolds fossil fuel consumers, his honeymoon will be brief.

Related: A Potential Surprise Next Week: Negative Inflation

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