‘War-like footing’ needed to tackle climate crisis warns Prince Charles at #COP26

The Prince of Wales gave the opening address to representatives from more than 100 nations at COP26 today, in a plea to help meet new targets to reduce emissions and slow the effects of the climate crisis.

The heir to the throne has always been vocal about environmental issues, and began his address by highlighting the impact the pandemic has had on the world. He continued to add that ‘climate change and biodiversity loss are no different – in fact, they pose an even greater existential threat – to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.’

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The Prince acknowledged that the climate crisis has begun to wreak havoc, with many nations ‘already feeling the devastating impact of climate change’, particularly through natural disasters caused by extreme weather like flooding and droughts.

“The recent I.P.C.C. report gave us a clear diagnosis of the scale of the problem. We know what we must do. With a growing global population creating ever-increasing demand on the planet’s finite resources, we have to reduce emissions urgently and take action to tackle the carbon already in the atmosphere, including from coal-fired power stations. Putting a value on carbon, thus making carbon capture solutions more economical, is therefore absolutely critical,” Charles commented.

He and The Duchess of Cornwall attended the opening sessions of COP26 in Glasgow today, hearing addresses from world leaders as well as attending climate discussions, and performances, like poet Yrsa Daley-Ward.

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Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at COP26 in Glasgow (@ClarenceHouse/Twitter)

The visit also comes after his trip to Rome this weekend, for the G20 meeting. The Prince of Wales gave another impassioned address there, to urge leaders into action.

His speech continued: “As we tackle this crisis, our efforts cannot be a series of independent initiatives running in parallel.  The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global, systems-level solution, based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel-based economy to one that is genuinely renewable and sustainable.

“So, Ladies and Gentlemen, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions, of dollars.  We also know that countries, many of whom are burdened by growing levels of debt, simply cannot afford to ‘go green’.

“Here, we need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector. With trillions at its disposal – far beyond global G.D.P. and, with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders – it offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.

Asking the question ‘how do we do it?’, Prince Charles noted three ways in which society can start to tackle climate change by offering the solution in his Sustainable Markets Initiative. The Sustainable Markets Initiative, launched by Charles in January 2020, aims to support communities, businesses, investors and consumers to take the urgent and necessary steps required to transition to more sustainable practices.

“First: how do we get the private sector all pulling in the same direction?  After nearly two years now of consultation, C.E.O.s have told me that we need to bring together global industries to map out, in very practical terms, what it will take to make the transition.  We know from the pandemic that the private sector can speed up timelines dramatically when everyone agrees on the urgency and the direction.  So each sector needs a clear strategy to speed up the process of getting innovations to market.

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“Second, who pays, and how? We need to align private investment behind these industry strategies to help finance the transition efforts, which means building the confidence of investors so that the financial risk is reduced. Crucially, investment is needed to help transition from coal to clean energy. If we can develop a pipeline of many more sustainable and ‘bankable’ projects, at a sufficient scale, it will attract greater investment.

“Third, which switches do we flick to enable these objectives? More than 300 of the world’s leading C.E.O.s and institutional investors have told me that, alongside the promises countries have made – their Nationally Determined Contributions – they need clear market signals, agreed globally, so that they have the confidence to invest, without the goalposts suddenly moving.

“Together, we are working to drive trillions of dollars in support of transition across ten of the most emitting and polluting industries. They include energy, agriculture, transportation, health systems and fashion.  The reality of today’s global supply chains means that industry transition will affect every country and every producer in the world. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the private sector is ready to play its part and to work with governments to find a way forward.”

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Concluding his COP26 speech, the Royal said: “Any leader who has had to confront such life-threatening challenges [that climate change brings] knows that the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of prevention.

“So, I can only urge you, as the world’s decision-makers, to find practical ways of overcoming differences so we can all get down to work, together, to rescue this precious planet and save the threatened future of our young people.’

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be joined by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for engagements throughout COP26. The Queen was supposed to attend, but was advised not to on orders from her doctors; she instead delivered a video message to attendees.

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