The Prince of Wales has called for global commitments to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 to be brought forward by two decades – because the current target “suggests we have room to delay”.
Charles’ comment, made in a speech to launch Climate Week, is at odds with the Government’s plan to cut carbon emissions to net zero within 30 years.
The heir to the throne gave the ambitious target of 2030 for nations to cut emissions, which he said is needed “given the enormity of the problem we face”.
Speaking via a recorded message from Birkhall in the grounds of Balmoral, Aberdeenshire, the prince also called for a financial recovery package, like the Marshall Plan that rebuilt post-war Europe, to help “nature, people and planet”.
The heir to the throne, who has been an environmental campaigner since the early 1970s, said: “With the planetary emergency so critical – with the permafrost melting in Siberia for instance, producing dire effects on global warming, and with the Pantanal in Brazil being consumed by unprecedented numbers of fires – we can no longer go on like this, as if there was no tomorrow and no ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature.
“So what do we do? Without doubt we must now put ourselves on a war-like footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign. That way, working together, we can combat this most grave and urgent challenge.
“If we have the resolve to shift our trajectory, we must start now by bringing forward our net zero target – I am afraid 2050 simply suggests we have room to delay.”
A key UN report from 2018 said to keep temperatures from rising to more than 1.5C (2.7F) in the long-term, countries needed to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, with steep cuts in other greenhouse gases such as methane.
The Committee on Climate Change, an independent body of climate advisers, recommended last year the UK pursue this target.
Dozens of nations have indicated they will follow the same course but only a handful, like France, Denmark, New Zealand and the UK, have enshrined the commitment in law while Sweden has gone further and adopted 2045.
Charles added: “It is absolutely vital, given the enormity of the problem we face, that we make truly transformative progress along the road to net zero by 2030, taking the tough decisions now rather than deferring them to the next generation.”
During the speech, Charles set out a series of proposals with some reliant on being completed by COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference which the UK is due to host next year, having been postponed from 2020 because of coronavirus.
By the global summit, the prince said, “my great hope is that we might also see global financial institutions and institutional investors outline publicly accessible roadmaps that define the steps to take their portfolios to net-zero between 2020 to 2030”.
New platform @WeAreRETV will champion the most inspiring solutions for sustainability from around the world. 🌏♻️
With content curated by HRH, viewers will be able to explore five defined sub-channels: Re:Imagine; Re:Design; Re:Balance, Re:Invigorate, and Re:Invest. pic.twitter.com/X8qV73UU9h
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) September 21, 2020
He added: “I would also encourage countries themselves to work towards COP26 by outlining publicly-available roadmaps to net-zero which set out priority industries for transition along with the actions required to restore or enhance biodiversity and natural capital.”
The prince ended his speech by launching RE:TV, a content platform for short films with Charles as editor-in-chief that was born out of his Sustainable Markets Initiative as a way to inform and inspire audiences about sustainability.
Charles gave an interview to the new platform and spoke passionately about the threat to the planet: “We’ve forgotten sometimes, I think, that we are part of nature, so what we do to the world around us, we are doing totally to ourselves.
“We can’t go on, I think, equivocating on this and just expect us to test the world ultimately to destruction, before you can prove that you have destroyed it – it is climate change – that’s pointless to me.”