Charles pleads for climate deal
Prince urges world leaders: Think of your grandchildren Meanwhile deadly smog blankets China’s cities
PRINCE Charles yesterday told world leaders they would be the ‘architects of impending catastrophe’ if they did not take urgent action on climate change.
The Prince of Wales said delegates at the United Nations climate talks in Paris held the fate of future generations in their hands, telling the leaders of 155 countries: ‘I can only urge you to think of your grandchildren, the same as I think of mine.’
Charles, who said humanity had just a few years to avert ‘catastrophic climate change’, added: ‘Most of all, I urge you to consider the needs of the youngest generation, because none of us has the right to assume that for our today, they should give up their tomorrow.’
The world’s nations are meeting in the French capital for an annual summit aimed at striking a deal which will limit global warming to 2C this century. David Cameron told them they should follow Britain’s lead in cutting carbon and giving more foreign aid to poor countries to help them develop green energy.
The Prime Minister also referred to the next generation, saying: ‘We should ask what will we say to our grandchildren if we fail. Instead of making excuses tomorrow, let’s take action today.’
In the light of the failure to reach a deal in previous years, the organisers have demanded that countries make pledges in advance to say what they will do at home to cut emissions. But criticism has focused on the fact that these promises are not legally binding, raising the prospect that only the UK – which has strict climate change laws – will have to deliver on them.
The summit has attracted highprofile guests, including US Presi- dent Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, partly to show solidarity with France after the recent terrorist atrocity. Mr Obama said it was an act of defiance against terrorists, adding: ‘What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshalling our best efforts to save it.’
He told delegates that climate change would lead to ‘ more droughts, flood and desperate people’ fleeing their countries.
‘I came here personally to say the United States not only recognises the problem but is committed to do something about it,’ he said.
Previous pacts, such as Kyoto in 1997, were legally binding – requiring a worldwide 5 per cent in emissions compared with 1990 levels – but only on developed countries and the US did not participate.
The UN’s failed climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 were intended to get big emitters such as China, India and Mexico to agree to cut carbon, which they had refused to do. The Paris summit has seen all the major countries make pledges in advance for the first time, but these have no legal force.
The Climate Change Act 2008, commits Britain to cutting domestic emissions by 80 per cent by the year 2050 on 1990 levels. The UK has also committed to the controversial target to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.
Reacting to Mr Cameron’s speech, Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said: ‘David Cameron’s grandstanding on the international stage is riven with hypocrisy because of the complete incompetence of his Government.
‘Since the election the UK Government has taken a wrecking ball to clean energy and low carbon policies, which means the nation’s approach is now way off track. Future generations will pay a heavy price for this Government’s economic and environmental short- sightedness and its fixation with fossil fuels.’
Prince Charles told scientists in a separate speech that he feared for the future of French cheeses.
The prince, who was awarded the Francois Rabelais prize by France’s Institute of Sciences and Arts, said: ‘The distinctiveness of local cuisine is one of the most important ways we identify with the places and regions we love. In a microbe-free, progressive and genetically engineered future, what hope is there for the old-fashioned Fourme d’Ambert, the malformed Gruyere de Comte or the odorous Pont-l’Eveque?’
Toxic: Only just visible in the dense smog, a man cycles through the city of Fuyang, north-east China, yesterday. Further south, Beijing factories were ordered to limit production and schools were forced to keep children inside as pollution reached dangerous levels