‘Last-chance saloon’: Prince Charles urges Scott Morrison to attend Cop26 climate summit

Prince of Wales warns of ‘catastrophic’ impact to planet if more ambitious action not taken in Glasgow

Prince Charles has urged the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, to attend this month’s critical Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, saying it could be the world’s last chance to take action.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, the Prince of Wales was asked about Australia and Morrison as he discussed the climate crisis and the 2021 UN climate change conference, which begins at the end of the month.

The Prince warned of a “catastrophic” impact to the planet if more ambitious action was not taken on the climate, adding he was worried world leaders would “just talk” when they meet in Glasgow for Cop26.

When the BBC interviewer told the Prince of Wales that Morrison had not officially confirmed his attendance, Australia’s future monarch said he was aware he would be accused of meddling, but action was needed immediately.

“You gently try to suggest there may be other ways of doing things, in my case. Otherwise, you lot accuse me of interfering and meddling, don’t you?” the Prince said.

When asked why it was important a world leader like Morrison attend, he said: “Well, that’s what I’m trying to say all the time, and the point being that this is a last-chance saloon, literally.

“Because if we don’t really take the decisions that are vital now, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch up.”

The Prince of Wales urged world leaders to look towards unlocking trillions of dollars in private sector investment when they meet in Glasgow.

To do nothing, he said, would be a disaster. “It’ll be catastrophic,” he said.

“It is already beginning to be catastrophic, because nothing in nature can survive the stress that is created by these extremes of weather.”

The Prince of Wales said he understands why campaigners from organisations such as Extinction Rebellion take to the streets to demand action on the climate crisis, but called for “more constructive rather than destructive” methods.

“But it isn’t helpful, I don’t think, to do it in a way that alienates people. So I totally understand the frustration, the difficulty is how do you direct that frustration in a way that is more constructive rather than destructive,” he said.

Asked if the UK government was doing enough to combat the climate emergency, the Prince replied: “I couldn’t possibly comment.”

In the interview, Prince Charles argues that while governments can bring billions of dollars to the effort to address global heating, the private sector has the potential to mobilise trillions of dollars.

But he added that many business executives still do not give environmental issues the priority they deserve.

He argued one of the keys to addressing the crisis was making environmentally friendly options cheaper for everyone.

“We still have fossil fuel subsidies, why?” he asked.

He said it was “crazy” there were still subsidies for what he calls “insane agro-industrial approaches to farming which are a disaster in many ways, cause huge damage and contribute enormously to emissions”.

He said there were similar “perverse” subsidies for the fishing industry, which he said caused “mammoth damage” through trawling.

Charles is due to attend a series of events at Cop26, alongside the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Guardian staff

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