Prince Charles calls for ‘war-like footing’ in speech at pivotal COP26 climate change summit


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The Prince of Wales delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021.
Yves Herman – WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — Prince Charles issued an urgent call for action at the opening ceremony of COP26 on Monday, telling those attending the climate change summit that time had “quite literally run out.”

Speaking in front of world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, the heir apparent to the British throne said the Covid-19 pandemic had “shown us just how devastating a global, cross border threat can be.”

“Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different,” he said. “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.”

COP26 is being hosted by the U.K. between Oct. 31 and Nov. 12. A lot is riding on the summit: The U.K.’s official website for COP26 states it will “bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Described by the United Nations as a legally-binding international treaty on climate change, the Paris Agreement aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

Addressing those in front of him, Charles said “the eyes and hopes of the world are upon you to act with all dispatch, and decisively — because time has quite literally run out.”

The Prince of Wales said a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had provided “a clear diagnosis of a scale of the problem — we know what we must do.”

Expanding on his point, Charles said emissions needed to be cut urgently and action taken 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,” he said, going on to call for an acceleration of nature-based solutions, among other things.

Collaboration was also key, Charles said. “As we tackle this crisis, our efforts cannot be a series of independent initiatives running in parallel,” he said.

“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.”

He went on to plea 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.”

Monday’s remarks represent Prince Charles’ latest attempt to galvanize action related to the environment and sustainability. In September 2020, for instance, he called for a “Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet.”

A longstanding advocate for the environment, Charles recently told the BBC: “My old Aston Martin, which I’ve had for 51 years, runs on, can you believe this, surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process.”

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