Prince Charles says economic re-wiring needed to stem effects of climate change

11 Dec 15

Prince Charles has called for an ambitious and committed public, private and civil society partnership that can “re-wire” the global economy to eliminate its harmful impact on the environment.

 

Speaking at the annual Accounting for Sustainability Summit in London yesterday, the Prince of Wales argued the business case for sustainability and said it was time to stop procrastinating as the world heads towards “the point of no return”.

“On an increasingly crowded planet, humanity faces many threats – but none, none, is greater than climate change, which magnifies every hazard and tension of our existence,” he said.

“The good news is that we have the knowledge and the tools to have a chance of staying within 2°C [of global temperature rise], and at a cost of just under 2% of annual global consumption – surely an investment worth making.

“We lack only the will and the framework to use these solutions wisely, consistently and at the required global scale.”

He said all sectors of society needed to come together in the “biggest private, public, NGO and civil society partnership the world has ever seen” and “act now” to create a sustainable, waste-free economy.

The finance and accounting community will be vital in deterring the private sector from the draw of a business-as-usual approach, he said, and system-wide action is the only way to eliminate the “unhedgeable risk” faced by investors.

The prince referred to comments from Bank of England governor Mark Carney who recently warned that those who fail to act on climate change could face legal liabilities in decades to come, hitting carbon extractors, emitters and their insurers the hardest.

Efforts by “innovative organisations” within the private sector and asset owners such as UK’s Environment Agency Pension Fund, which has committed to decarbonising their portfolio, show organisations are increasingly willing to act, he said.

Echoing scientists’ warnings, Prince Charles explained that, even within the limit of a 2°C temperature rise, small island states will become submerged, coral reefs wiped out, fisheries will suffer and whole populations will be on the move, leaving countries and companies needing to make significant investments in “a rather fruitless attempt to adapt”.

He said he hopes the UN climate summit in Paris, which had been due to conclude today but is running over into the weekend, will set out a climate deal to put the world on the right path.

“At the end of the day, we know this is not about numbers,” he said. “It is about our values and legacy, one which leaves behind a better world for our children and grandchildren and ensures the survival of all other species which share this over-exploited planet with us and on which we depend for our existence.

“We simply have no time left in which to prevent dangerous climate change, stem the depletion of our natural resources and avoid further social disruption and unrest.”

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