‘Decried, denigrated, and denied’: Prince of Wales slams climate inaction at New York Climate Week


Heir to the throne calls for ‘swift and immediate’ action to address escalating climate impacts in keynote speech this afternoon

The Prince of Wales has issued a bleak warning this morning that the climate crisis is a “comprehensive catastrophe” that is set to “dwarf the coronavirus pandemic”.

In a pre-recorded keynote speech delivered today at the opening of New York Climate Week, Prince Charles has called for concerted action to address escalating climate impacts.

“Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to ‘reset’ for… a more sustainable and inclusive future,” the Prince of Wales said. “In other words, the global pandemic is a wake-up call we cannot ignore.”

The climate crisis, he added, “has been with us for far too many years – decried, denigrated and denied.  It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ahead of the annual climate summit, which will bring together business, government and philanthropic organisations, Prince Charles emphasised that younger workers in particular wanted to see action that could set the world on a more sustainable path.

“Billions of people around the world are waiting and longing for concerted action to right the balance of this planet that we have so rashly disrupted,” he said. “Millions of younger employees of countless companies and corporations and desperate for action and not more words.”

The Prince of Wales called for a “military-style” campaign to combat the climate crisis and said business and state leaders should work towards achieving net zero emissions ahead of 2050, the target set out by the Paris Agreement.

“Without doubt we must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from a military style campaign,” he said. “That way, working together, we can combat this most grave and urgent challenge. If we have the resolve to shift our trajectory, we must start now by bringing forward our net zero target. I’m afraid 2050 suggests we have room to delay.”

And as such, the Prince called on each of the major sectors of the economy – from finance to energy and transport – to publish “publicly accessible roadmaps that identify the steps to net zero from 2020 and 2030”.

The heir to the throne has long been an advocate of climate action. At this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos , he called on leaders to support an “evolution” of the economic model that incorporated the value of nature and in 2015, he addressed the opening session of the UN climate change conference that birthed the Paris Agreement saying: “Your deliberations will decide the fate not only of those alive today but also of generations yet unborn.”

Today’s speech marks the opening of a week-long virtual conference that is set to see a raft of new deacrbonisation commitments from leading corporates and regional and city governments.