Charles warns of 'dangerously narrow window' to act on climate crisis

'Climate change and biodiversity loss are clear global challenges of paramount importance'

The Prince of Wales has warned there is a "dangerously narrow" window of opportunity in which to tackle the climate crisis.

Addressing the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, Charles said that "after far too long" the issue is finally "of paramount importance to the world".

His address comes after it was revealed the Queen had spent a night in hospital earlier this week, after she was forced to cancel her trip to Northern Ireland.

The 95-year-old Head of State went to hospital for "preliminary investigations" on Wednesday night but returned to Windsor on Thursday, said a Palace spokesperson.

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The royal was speaking ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow next week.

In a pre-recorded message, the heir to the throne said: "Cop26 is said to be the largest gathering of international leaders ever hosted by the United Kingdom.

"This reflects the fact that, at last, and after far too long, climate change and biodiversity loss are clear global challenges of paramount importance to the world.

"At the same time, the ongoing 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."

The COP26 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP26? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP26:

  • US President Joe Biden, climate envoy John Kerry, climate adviser and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and 10 other US cabinet officials.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In the days leading up to COP26, Mr Morrison committed Australia to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge are also attending. The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.

China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are among the leaders that have decided not to travel to Glasgow.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - Countries are being encouraged to set ambitious 2030 emissions targets. They are also encouraged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, clamp down on deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

2. Protect natural habitats and communities from climate change disasters

3. Finances for a greener future - In 2009, developed countries were asked to keep to their promises to contribute at least $100 billion (£72.5 billion) per year by 2020 to protect the planet. In 2015, it was agreed that the goal would be extended to 2025.

However, new analysis shows the goal is unlikely to have been met last year and is on track to fall short in 2021 and 2022.

4. Getting all countries and organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis

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October has seen the Royals speak out time and again on the issue of climate change.

The Queen was heard calling world leaders’ inaction on tackling the climate crisis "irritating" in remarks following her address to the Welsh Parliament earlier in the month.

Video and audio taken of the monarch talking to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Senedd's presiding officer Elin Jones, and transcribed by journalists present, show the three discussing COP26.

The audio appears to suggest the Queen saying: “Extraordinary isn’t it...I’ve been hearing all about COP...still don’t know who is idea”.

Meanwhile the Duke of Cambridge announced the first winners of his Earthshot prize.

The nation of Costa Rica and a pair of coral growers were among the winners at the inaugural awards ceremony earlier in the month.

William also spoke out on space tourism last week - calling on the focus of the "world's greatest brains" to be on "trying to repair this planet" rather than blasting off into space.

He was speaking in an interview that aired the day after Star Trek’s William Shatner made history by becoming the oldest person in space.