Britain’s Prince Charles said he was “fed up with all the talking” on climate change as he urged finance leaders to drive ambitious action.
The Prince of Wales, a longstanding advocate for sustainability, said there was no shortage of money to fund green initiatives.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown that public health, the economy and the environment were fundamentally interconnected.
“I’ve spent much of the last 40 years trying to get across the message about why sustainability matters,” he said.
“Frankly, I’m fed up with all the talking. We know now what needs to be done.”
The prince told financial managers that they should use their positions to raise funds for climate action and push businesses into prioritising emissions cuts.
Private companies should put their money into “supporting and regenerating nature’s own capital” so that they can use it sustainably in future, he said.
The heir to the British throne was speaking at an event hosted by the Accounting for Sustainability project, which he founded in 2004.
“This is not about making money on the one hand and being sustainable on the other,” he said. “It is all about recognising that business as usual is no longer an option.
“Those organisations which invest in the future by putting nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation will be the ones to succeed.
“The clock is ticking. It really is up to us to make each day count.”
The prince touted his own efforts to drive climate action through a Sustainable Markets Initiative, which he set up in 2019.
This month he met a group of chief executives and environment advisers on the eve of the G7 summit in Britain.
He told them that the world did not “stand a chance” of solving climate issues if the power of the private sector was not unleashed on the crisis.
Britain is seeking bold commitments from businesses in the lead-up to the Cop26 summit which it is hosting in November.
The UK says that a third of its biggest companies have signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, which calls for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The plans are intended to contribute to the global target of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
Experts say that net zero plans must include immediate cuts in emissions rather than seeking to cancel them out by planting trees in the future.
Andrew Griffith, a Conservative MP and an official net zero business champion for Cop26, told Wednesday’s event that companies could inspire more ambitious action from politicians.
“Businesses of every size have an opportunity to lend their voice to give our leaders the confidence to go a little further than they might otherwise have done,” he said.
Gregor Alexander, the finance director of UK energy company SSE, said that climate action was “too important to leave it to the politicians”.
He cited his company’s efforts to build the world’s largest wind farm off the English coast at Dogger Bank.
“It’s that action that we must all be judged on by governments and by businesses,” he said.
Andy Agg, the chief financial officer of the National Grid, echoed Prince Charles by calling on finance chiefs to “champion sustainability at a board level”.
“Making sure that we’re bringing sustainability into that decision-making and making sure that the net zero agenda is being considered is critical,” he said.