Saturday, 14 March 2009

We have only “100 months to act” to alter our behaviour

The Prince of Wales today [12th March] warned the world risked bequeathing future generations a “poisoned chalice” if climate change wasn’t tackled.

In a speech to business leaders in Brazil, The Prince highlighted how we had only “100 months to act” to alter our behaviour or risk “catastrophic” environmental damage to the world.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have travelled to South America to focus on the UK Government’s climate change priorities, and The Prince’s speech in Rio de Janeiro follows on from one he made in Chile on environmental issues.

Addressing the Brazilian business leaders at the Itamaraty Palace, The Prince said that global greenhouse emissions were still rising inexorably despite the evidence of the damage they were causing to the planet - disappearing glaciers, melting icecaps and more extreme weather.

The Prince described this failure to adequately tackle the causes of the problem as "gambling away our future".

But he added the global economic downturn offered the world an opportunity as it told us that sustainable development would be the primary driver of economic prosperity in the future.

Speaking in Rio de Janeiro ahead of a visit to the heart of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, The Prince echoed a speech he made in Brazil in 1991, warning that economic difficulties should not stop the world tackling environmental problems.

He told the invited guests: "... any difficulties which the world faces today will be as nothing compared to the full effects which global warming will have on the worldwide economy.

"It will result in vast movements of people escaping either flooding or drought; uncertain production of food and lack of water and, of course, increasing social instability and potential conflict."

He added: "If we once more redouble our efforts to unite the world in meeting perhaps its greatest and most crucial challenge, then we may yet be able to prevail. And thereby to avoid bequeathing a poisoned chalice to our children and grandchildren we only have 100 months to act."

The Prince’s concern for the vital eco-systems led him to set up an initiative in October 2007 to help stop their destruction. The Prince's Rainforest Project is working to make the natural resources "worth more alive than dead" in countries where producers are clearing the land to meet a demand for goods like beef, palm oil, and logs.

During the speech His Royal Highness also described a proposal his Project is developing to launch a bond which would be bought by investors and underwritten by developed countries with the proceeds going to rainforest nations to help them develop their economies without destroying the forests.

Their Royal Highnesses’ overseas tour in March to Chile, Brazil and Ecuador, has a focus on climate change priorities. The Prince’s Deputy Private Secretary, Clive Alderton, outlined the purpose of the trip, which is being carried out at the request of the British Government, to media at briefing at Clarence House.

Mr Alderton explained: “As the Government put it to me, we’re fortunate to have, in The Prince of Wales, someone with 40 years of work and experience on environmental issues who can help lead the charge for Britain in the battle in countries which sit on the front line of climate change.” Because of The Prince’s environmental expertise, many of the engagements during the tour have been structured specifically to support the United Kingdom’s strategic priorities on climate change, he said.

The media briefing was told that Ecuador was also central to the battle against climate change. Mr Alderton said: “Their Royal Highnesses’ visit is timed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book “On the Origin of Species” and the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. Galapagos is, of course, an immensely fragile biosphere but one that depends on revenue from visitors. The key here is for visitors to follow strict rules, including for example the decontamination of aircraft on the way into Galapagos. The Royal plane will be decontaminated just like any other aircraft. Their Royal Highnesses have been invited to the Galapagos to draw attention to the research work which is going on; research which is shared with the international community to broaden international understanding of biodiversity and climate change issues.

As for the question of how much the tour would cost the public purse, Mr Alderton explained that, as with the visit to the Far East in Autumn 2008, Clarence House had taken advice from the Government on whether it should go ahead in the current economic climate. He said the Government had confirmed that they did want the tour to proceed given the importance of the strategic priorities that the visit would address and the bilateral diplomatic relationships it would strengthen.

What a pity the Australian government - and other people saying they were concerned about the effects of climate change - put their republican convictions ahead of the urgent need to take action of climate change. Australia trails behind world best practice and particularly Europe. What would Prince Charles tell the Australians?

1 comment:

Zuri said...

The Prince of Wales is going to love the Galapagos Islands because this Archipelago is the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.