COP26: Prince Charles tells G20 world leaders the 'future of humanity and nature herself are at stake'

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The Prince of Wales has described the COP26 climate conference as "the last chance saloon", telling world leaders at the G20 summit that "the future of humanity and nature herself are at stake".

In an incredibly rare moment for a member of the Royal Family, Prince Charles had been invited to address the leaders at the gathering in Rome.

Setting out his arguments ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, he said: "Quite literally, it is the last chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions.

"And as the enormity of the climate challenge dominates peoples' conversations, from newsrooms to living rooms, and as the future of humanity and nature herself are at stake, it is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a substantial green recovery by putting the global economy on a confident, sustainable trajectory and, thus, save our planet."

He also told the leaders in Italy's capital that "listening is often more important than speaking", adding: "It is also impossible not to hear the despairing voices of young people who see you, ladies and gentlemen, as the stewards of the planet, holding the viability of their future in your hands."

Emphasising the need for urgent action, he told the assembled world leaders there was an "overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn".

He appeared to echo the feelings of many activists who say it is time for leaders to stop just talking and act.

The Queen, in recent weeks, expressed her own frustrations, saying in the run-up to COP26 that she was irritated at leaders who "talk but don't do".

For the Prince of Wales, the opportunity to address 20 of the world's most powerful individuals in this way was a hugely significant moment.

In the past, he has been accused of trying to lobby or influence world leaders on environmental matters and criticised for not being politically neutral in the same way as the Queen.

But with the growing global consensus on the need to act on climate change, the prince has increasingly been seen as an important voice, able to convene the private and public sector in a way that politicians can't.

The prince has been a committed environmental campaigner for over 50 years. Talking about how attitudes have changed, he said: "I am at last sensing a change in attitudes and the build-up of positive momentum."

He also used his Rome speech to emphasise the need for business and governments to work hand-in-hand to find solutions to the climate crisis, using the example of his own Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI).

The SMI is a talking shop of hundreds of business CEOs, all working together to make their industries more environmentally friendly.

The prince said: "As it stands, they tell me there are too few investable projects in the pipeline because there is too little confidence in the system. To do this, there is a need to align country, industry and investment roadmaps."

Emphasising how the private sector has the money to unlock solutions, he stressed: "It is only too clear that we will need trillions of dollars of investment every year to create the necessary new infrastructure and meet the vital 1.5 degree climate target that will save our forests and farms, our oceans and our wildlife.

"No government has those sorts of sums - which is why I have spent so much time over the past 19 months trying to form a global alliance amongst the private sector, as I have long believed it holds the ultimate key to the solutions we seek."

Before leaving Rome, Prince Charles will attend an event to highlight an initiative that CEOs from the fashion world have been working on.

The SMI Fashion Coalition's Digital ID will be a virtual certificate on items of clothing and accessories that records each item's history; how it was designed, manufactured and transported to the shops.

High-end brands such as Giorgio Armani, Mulberry and Chloé have signed up to the idea. Fashion is currently one of the most polluting sectors in the world.

On Monday, the Prince of Wales will be joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a reception to welcome world leaders to Glasgow for COP26.

Prince Charles will also deliver opening remarks at the official opening ceremony hosted by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

For full coverage of COP26 watch Climate Live on Sky channel 525.

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