Prince Charles: the ‘time is now’ to tackle the climate emergency

The Prince of Wales has penned an exclusive essay in Newsweek, as he continues to advocate for action against climate change and to fix the planet.

Charles opens his essay by quoting President John F. Kennedy: “our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable—and we believe they can do it again”.

He notes how Kennedy’s ‘inspiring call to action remains prescient today, but in a different context and a different conflict—our battle against climate change to create a cleaner, safer and healthier planet for future generations’.

The Prince of Wales writes exclusively in Newsweek about combatting climate change

HRH mentions how it was his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who started advocating for action to prevent climate change as Philip ‘identified the damage humankind was inflicting on the planet and helped to found the World Wildlife Fund.’

Charles says how at first many were sceptical when he shared Philip’s passion a decade after his father identified the threat people were causing to the climate. He added how over time ‘that view has shifted in the intervening decades, though all too slowly, and, even today, lacks the urgency needed’.

The Prince of Wales proceeded to praise his two sons, William and Harry. “As a father, I am proud that my sons have recognised this threat. Most recently, my elder son, William, launched the prestigious Earthshot Prize to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next ten years by identifying and investing in the technologies that can make a difference.

“And my younger son, Harry, has passionately highlighted the impact of climate change, especially in relation to Africa, and committed his charity to being net zero.”

Prince William’s Earthshot Prize saw a star-studded ceremony, which was broadcast on television, where individuals across the globe were praised for their efforts in tackling climate change.

Prince Charles with Prince William and Prince Harry in 2017

The heir to the throne explains how humankind is capable of solving the impossible, providing the example of the COVID-19 vaccine, or intergalactic developments. He comments: “‘I believe we can, and must, do so again if we wish to protect and preserve this planet that we call home”.

“As 2021 ends, there is every reason to believe we have reached a watershed moment. The agreements reached at COP 26 in November marked useful and important progress. Once again there was international recognition of the climate crisis. Leaders demonstrated political courage and a willingness to be held responsible and accountable for their actions. The focus appeared, as it should, on the impact of inaction for our children, grandchildren and generations beyond.”

In late 2021, The Prince of Wales attended COP26 along with other members of the Royal Family, where he gave the opening address to representatives from more than 100 nations at COP26.

Charles uses his exclusive essay to describe how similar commitments at world climate gatherings have been made, but says the day-to-day activities have led to society becoming distracted and missing targets.

“This time, we cannot afford to lose momentum. 2021 cannot be yet another false dawn. We simply cannot go on ignoring the fact that for millions of people in dangerously vulnerable parts of the world, climate change and biodiversity loss are already devastating their lives and livelihoods and making where they live increasingly uninhabitable.”

Prince Charles the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall leaving Exeter Cathedral

Charles describes his recent travels to Jordan with Camilla, where he visited the Baptism site of Jesus and could see the depleting levels of water in one of the most water-deprived countries in the world. He also discusses his visit to Egypt, where he heard ‘about the devastating impact of climate change on water and agriculture in the Nile Delta’.

Charles also travelled to Barbados, as the country became a republic, and ‘listened to peoples’ fears about the rising sea levels and the resulting threat posed to their country’s very existence’.

“What is clear is that our actions matter. We know what we need to do. With a growing population creating ever-increasing demand on the planet’s finite resources, we must reduce emissions and take action to tackle the carbon already in the atmosphere, including from fossil fuel and coal-fired power stations. If we can put a proper value on carbon, we can make carbon capture solutions more economical. After billions of years of evolution, Nature remains our best teacher. So, when we look for answers on how humankind can live more sustainably with the planet, we should let Nature be our guide.”

The Prince of Wales outlines three factors society can come together to help tackle the climate emergency. The first way is for global industries to have strategies in place to bring innovations to target climate change to the forefront. The second method Charles suggested is for industries to back these innovations with the correct financially backing, whilst building the confidence of investors. The final method is for CEOs and investors to be given clear standards for long-term investment.

“This is the framework offered in the Terra Carta roadmap for Nature, people and planet, created by my Sustainable Markets Initiative, which includes nearly one hundred specific actions for acceleration.”

“Ultimately, the cost of inaction will far outweigh the cost of action. Already, younger generations have expressed an understandable frustration about the pace of action on this issue. With each missed opportunity, our generation places yet more of the financial burden of these failings on theirs, and on those not yet born.”

Terra Carta – the Earth Charter, promoted by Prince Charles (Sustainable Markets Initiative/Twitter)

As we head into ‘a year of huge opportunity, we need a similar “We” mentality on a global level in our battle to create a cleaner and healthier planet,’ Charles adds.

HRH acknowledges the importance of coming together as one and that ‘our borders do not define us in the face of global threats’.

“At present, there is none more pressing than putting Nature, people and our singular and fragile planet at the heart of how we live, work and do business to create the brightest possible future for humanity.”

Charles concludes his essay but saying ‘the time is now. The eyes of our children and grandchildren are judging us. Let ours be the generation that can. And does. As we enter a new year, there is not a moment to lose.’

The Prince of Wales attended the G20 last year in Rome and addressed delegates on the urgency of the planet’s fight to survive. He was invited by Italian Prime Minister Draghi, where he spoke about the importance of acting immediately in order to halt the changes, which will cause so much damage to the earth and cost many lives. He emphasised the ‘overwhelming responsibility’ that leaders have ‘to generations yet unborn’.

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