Charles says he understands protesters’ despair over climate change

·3-min read
The Prince of Wales is set to attend the Cop26 climate conference (Wattie Cheung/PA) (PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales is set to attend the Cop26 climate conference (Wattie Cheung/PA) (PA Wire)

The Prince of Wales has said world leaders gathering at the Cop26 summit should take ambitious action on climate change rather than “just talk”, and take notice of how “despairing” many young people are about the issue.

Charles said he understood why climate campaign groups such as Extinction Rebellion stage protests and block roads, but suggested they should take a less disruptive approach.

“I totally understand the frustration,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

Charles, pictured with the Queen at Balmoral Estate, is a long-time environmental campaigner (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Charles, pictured with the Queen at Balmoral Estate, is a long-time environmental campaigner (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

“But it isn’t helpful, I don’t think, to do it in a way that alienates people … The difficulty is, how do you direct that frustration in a way that is more constructive rather than destructive?”

He added: “The point is, people should really notice how despairing so many young are.”

Charles, a long-standing environmental campaigner, said it had taken “far too long” for the world to take the climate crisis seriously.

He is concerned that leaders gathering at the Glasgow climate change conference from October 31 to November 12 would “just talk”.

“The problem is to get action on the ground,” he said.

Charles is due to attend a series of events at Cop26, alongside the Queen the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I haven’t eaten meat and fish on two days a week and I don’t eat dairy products on one day a week

Prince of Wales

He warned of a disastrous outcome if negotiators fail to ratchet up efforts to combat climate change at the summit.

“The risks now are so great if you don’t make the right move,” Charles said.

“It’ll be catastrophic. It is already beginning to be catastrophic, because nothing in nature can survive the stress that is created by these extremes of weather.”

Asked if the UK Government, as the host of Cop26, was doing enough to fight climate change, Charles replied: “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

The 12-day summit aims to secure more ambitious commitments to limit global warming to well below 2C with a goal of keeping it to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels.

The conference has been billed as crucial to delivering the goals of the Paris Accord which, when it was agreed in 2015, recognised countries needed to significantly increase action to cut greenhouse gases.

Charles has long commented on environmental issues (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
Charles has long commented on environmental issues (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

In the BBC interview, which took place in Prince George’s Wood an arboretum Charles has planted for his grandson in the gardens of Birkhall, his house on the Balmoral estate in Aberdeen, he also discussed his own efforts to reduce his carbon footprint.

“I haven’t eaten meat and fish on two days a week and I don’t eat dairy products on one day a week,” he said. “If more did that, you would reduce a lot of the pressure.”

He said he had converted his car, an Aston Martin he has owned for five decades, to run on what he described as “surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process”.

The vehicle now runs on a fuel blend made up of 85% bioethanol and 15% unleaded petrol.

Charles also said he has tried to heat the royal residences as sustainably as possible, using biomass boiler systems at Birkhall and installing solar panels at London’s Clarence House and on the farm buildings of Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire.

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