Prince Charles tells Cop26 leaders to hear young people's 'despairing voices'

Heir to British throne speaks of 'overwhelming responsibility' to future generations

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Britain’s Prince Charles urged world leaders on Sunday to hear the “despairing voices” of young people who will bear the brunt of climate change.

The Prince of Wales told leaders at a G20 summit in Rome that they have an “overwhelming responsibility” to future generations.

The heir to the British throne and a long-standing advocate for sustainability, said momentum was starting to build behind climate action.

But he described the Cop26 summit, which opens on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, as the moment to “translate fine words into still finer actions”.

“After, I suppose, very nearly 50 years of trying to raise awareness of the growing climate and environmental crisis, I am at last sensing a change in attitudes and the build-up of positive momentum,” he said.

“The planet’s health today will dictate the health, happiness and economic prosperity of generations to come — hence our overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn.

“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.”

The prince said money from the private sector was crucial to building a greener economy after the pandemic.

But he said investors needed more certainty from world leaders, who face tricky negotiations at Cop26 on raising money for green initiatives.

“From what they tell me, the private sector is already there, eager to work with you and ready to play a significant and game-changing role,” he said.

“It is surely time to set aside our differences and grasp this unique opportunity to launch a substantial green recovery.”

After his speech, Prince Charles was to attend the launch of a sustainability marker promoted by leaders in the fashion industry.

Members of a fashion task force backed by the prince will use a virtual certificate to record environmental details on every fashion item.

Cop26: The UN climate conference explained

Cop26: The UN climate conference explained

The digital ID will help consumers to make sustainable choices when buying clothes, said task force chairman Federico Marchetti.

“In an industry that needs to do so much more to improve its impact on the environment, this is a huge step forward and only the beginning of the taskforce’s journey,” Mr Marchetti said.

Prince Charles, 72, will welcome world leaders to Cop26 on Monday. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, cancelled her appearance after being advised to rest by doctors.

The prince has campaigned on environmental issues since long before they were prominent in global politics. In 2019, he launched a Sustainable Markets Initiative to encourage climate action from the private sector.

Addressing business leaders in June, Prince Charles said he was “fed up with all the talking” after decades of promoting sustainability. His sons, Princes William and Harry, have both supported green initiatives.

Updated: November 02, 2021, 7:21 AM