Prince Charles issued a warning to the world days before leaders gather in the U.K. for crucial United Nations climate talks, saying there is a “dangerously narrow” window to tackle global warming.
The heir to the British throne said Saturday that the summit, which starts Oct. 31 in Glasgow, showed that “after far too long,” climate change and biodiversity loss are at last “of paramount importance to the world.”
In a recorded message to the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, 72-year-old Charles — a long-time environmentalist — said the coronavirus pandemic “has highlighted that human health, planetary health and economic health are fundamentally interconnected.”
“We now have a dangerously narrow window of opportunity in which to accelerate a green recovery, while laying the foundations for a sustainable future,” he said.
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, says it aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060. China and Russia have set the same net-zero date, while the United States, the European Union and Britain are aiming for 2050.
Representatives of around 200 countries will gather in Scotland at the end of the month for the two-week U.N. climate conference, known as COP26. Organizers say it is one of the last chances to nail down carbon-cutting promises that can keep global warming within manageable limits.
Alok Sharma, the British official serving as COP26 president, said getting countries to do enough to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the goal agreed on at a summit in Paris in 2015 — would be “really tough.”
Current emissions-slashing commitments aren't enough, and major polluters including China and India have yet to submit new carbon-cutting plans for the next decade.
“It was brilliant, what they did in Paris, it was a framework agreement, (but) a lot of the detailed rules were left for the future,” Sharma told The Guardian newspaper.
“The question is whether or not countries are willing in Glasgow to go forward and commit to consensus on keeping 1.5C alive, that’s where the challenge will be.”