COP26: Prince Charles calls for ‘war-like footing’ to tackle climate crisis

"I urge you, as the world's decision makers, to find practical ways of overcoming differences"

Prince Charles has argued that a “war-like footing” is needed to tackle the climate crisis, as he opened the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The Prince of Wales called for a “vast military-style campaign” to address urgent environmental issues.

The royal, who has spent decades trying to raise awareness of the growing crisis, spoke at the opening ceremony of the major climate conference hosted by the UK in Scotland on Monday.

He stressed the urgency of dealing with climate change, saying: “We have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing."

He went on to urge leaders across the world to systematically engage with business to solve the climate problems Earth faces.

He said: “We need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector. With trillions at its disposal”.

Charles also delivered a speech in Rome on Sunday, to leaders at the G20 summit.

During those remarks, he described COP26 as “the last-chance saloon”, as he called for “fine words” to be translated into “still finer actions”.


"Time is quite literally running out"


He told the politicians gathered in Italy’s capital that the private sector is “eager” to work with them and “ready to play a hugely significant and game-changing role”, saying solutions to major issues “seem possible only if there is a much closer partnership between government, the main multilateral banks, the private sector and its investors”.

He added that, after many years of his own efforts in speaking up about environmental issues, “I am at last sensing a change in attitudes and the build-up of positive momentum”.

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.

Back to top

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

Back to top

Prince Charles was joined at COP26 by Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.Earlier this month the heir to the throne shared his "pride" at son, William, after the launch of his first Earthshot climate change awards.

The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.


Listen to the latest episode of ITV News's The Royal Rota podcast: