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Prince Charles climate plea

13 March 2009

Our Patron delivered his most impassioned and urgent plea yet on the need for the world to unite to tackle climate change.

In a keynote speech in Brazil, the heir to the UK throne delivered a stark warning that if nations fail to tackle deforestation and other problems over the next eight years then irreversible harm will be done to the environment.

Prince Charles told 200 business leaders in Rio de Janeiro that the world has “less than 100 months” to act.

"As the world's economy heads further into recession, it would be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture; to commit the sin, as we say in England and if you will pardon the terrible pun, of 'not seeing the wood for the trees'. For we are, I fear, at a defining moment in the world's history.

"We are facing a series of challenges so immense that we can, perhaps, be forgiven for feeling they are all too forbidding to confront."

In his speech, Prince Charles quoted Chico Mendes, the great Brazilian environmentalist, who said we are all "fighting for humanity."

The Prince said that he and his wife were about to visit the Galapagos Islands. "That place, in particular, reminds me of the urgent need to find ways simultaneously to pursue economic benefits while at the same time protecting the balance of nature that in the end is the security for all economic activity.

"This is, I believe, the central challenge of the 21st century, and one that your great country is showing such commendable leadership in meeting."

He warned the need for action was urgent. "The best projections tell us that we have less than 100 months to alter our behaviour before we risk catastrophic climate change."

The Prince said there is not necessarily a clash between the interests of big business and the environment. He argued that being green can be good for businesses and create jobs.

He ended his speech by saying: "For, in making progress here (in Brazil), you are providing immense and invaluable contributions to humanity as a whole. Therefore I can only pray with all my heart that the international collaborations you are engaged with in protecting your forests, and in promoting sustainable development meet with unqualified success.

"If we can redouble our efforts to unite the world in meeting perhaps its greatest and most critical challenge, then we may yet be able to prevail and thereby to avoid bequeathing a poisoned chalice to our children and grandchildren. But we only have 100 months to act."

The Prince's speech was timely coming only a day after scientists at the UK Met Office warned that climate change could kill the Amazon rainforest even if deforestation and emissions are curbed.


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