The Prince of Wales has hailed the G7 summit as a “game-changing opportunity” to help create a partnership between governments, business and private finance to finally tackle the “existential crisis” of climate change.
Charles’ comments were made to a group of chief executives and business leaders – including fashion designer Stella McCartney – gathered by the prince in preparation for a meeting with world leaders in Cornwall on Friday.
Meeting at St James’ Palace the prince told the executives: “We do have a potentially game-changing opportunity to drive forward the partnerships between government, business and private sector finance that are of course absolutely vital if we are to win the battle to combat climate change and biodiversity loss.”
He went on to say: “So working together, and in the closest possible partnership with governments, we can move – and actually are moving or beginning to – mountains.
“As I’m afraid I’ve been trying to say for several decades, unless we actually unlock private sector resources, innovation and finance, with the public sector setting a framework of incentives and regulation, we just don’t stand a chance of solving the existential crisis we have engineered over the years.”
At the beginning of the year Charles launched his ambitious Magna Carta-style charter to encourage the private sector to safeguard the planet by adopting sustainability and invest 10 billion dollars (£7.3 billion) in “natural capital”.
And he is likely to be invited to COP26, the UN Climate Change summit being hosted in Glasgow this autumn, to speak on the subject of the environment and climate change, issues he has been championing for decades.
The prince told the business leaders at the palace: “We are all committed, in our own ways, to devoting every fibre of our being to make sure that this really is the year we turn a corner and start winning this battle.
“The G7 is, of course, important both in itself and as a stepping stone to the G20 and then COP26; and it is hugely encouraging to see everyone in this room joining forces to ensure that ambition translates into action – at last.”
The CEOs in the room represented more than 300 global business leaders who form part of the “Coalition of the Willing” convened by the prince as part of his Sustainable Markets Initiative.
After the meeting the group of business leaders, who included AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, and his counterpart from NatWest Alison Rose, posed for a picture with Charles and US special presidential envoy for climate, secretary John Kerry, and COP26 president designate Alok Sharma who also joined the discussions.
The group chatted informally in the gardens of Clarence House and afterwards Stella McCartney said she was travelling to Cornwall “to ask all of these powerful people in the room to make a shift from convention” and adopt new practices to make her industry more sustainable.
The designer said: “I think one of the biggest problems that we have in the fashion industry is we’re not policed in any way.
“So we have no rules or legislations that will put, you know, hard stops on our industry to have a better sort of focus for the future of the planet.
“So I think we need to be incentivised, we need to have taxations looked at to work in a better way. So I’m here to kind of get political.”
The CEOs will present three initiatives to G7 leaders to help drive the change to a sustainable world.
They include the need for private finance to fund green innovation, direction from governments on future policy thus providing the private sector with the confidence to support a green transition.
And 10 Terra Carta Transition Coalitions aiming to drive sustainable investment and industry action for transition across 10 of the highest emitting and polluting industries.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is supporting Charles’ convening of the business leaders, and said: “Halting climate change and reversing biodiversity loss will require every part of our society and economy to pull together – from shipping to aeronautics and banking.
“The private sector has a vital role to play in accelerating the shift to clean, green technology and creating the jobs of the future, and I’m delighted to see so many major companies coming together under the Prince of Wales’ initiative to support that endeavour.
“I will be putting the climate crisis front and centre of the G7 Summit in Cornwall this weekend, as we work together to build back better and greener from the pandemic.”