What have all the royals said about climate change?

From having two kids for environmental reasons to calling global warming the ‘greatest threat to humanity’

Laura Hampson
Friday 15 October 2021 16:37
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It seems the royals are championing everything eco at present, with many senior royals (including the Queen herself) commenting on the current state of climate change.

The comments made by royals including Prince William, Prince Harry and their father, Prince Charles, come ahead of two major environmentally-minded events that will be run or attended by the royal family in the coming weeks.

On Sunday 17 October, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to attend the inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony. Funded by The Royal Foundation, the global prize will reward those trying to find solutions to climate change.

In Glasgow later this month, the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William will all attend events at Cop26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is running from 31 October to 12 November.

What has the Queen said about climate change?

The Queen has spoken of her “irritation” around climate change inaction

Speaking of Cop26, earlier this week the Queen was caught speaking on a livestream at the opening of the Welsh parliament, expressing her frustration at climate change inaction and particularly for individuals who “talk but don’t do”.

She was speaking to the Duchess of Cornwall and the parliament’s presiding officer, Elin Jones about the upcoming Cop26 conference when she said: “Extraordinary isn’t it. I’ve been hearing all about Cop ... still don’t know who is coming. No idea. We only know about people who are not coming ... It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”

Earlier this year, the Queen visited the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute and said tackling climate change will mean we need to change “the way we do things”.

Regarding global warming, she said: “It does mean we are going to have to change the way we do things really, in the end.”

What has Prince Charles said about climate change?

Prince Charles has warned that climate change is the "greatest threat to humanity”

Speaking from his home in Balmoral earlier this week, the Prince of Wales said he could understand the “frustration” climate campaigners felt and why organisations like Extinction Rebellion have taken to the streets to call for action on climate change.

“I totally understand the frustration,” he said. “The difficulty is how do you direct that frustration in a way that is more constructive rather than destructive.”

The prince spoke of a “catastrophic” impact if action wasn’t taken and that he was worried world leaders would “just talk” when they met at the Cop26 summit later this month.

“The problem is to get action on the ground,” Charles said.

“All these young people feel nothing is ever happening so of course they’re going to get frustrated. I totally understand because nobody would listen and they see their future being totally destroyed.”

While he said he “couldn’t possibly comment” on whether the UK government was doing enough to combat climate change, he added that Cop26 is a “last chance saloon” for world leaders to tackle the ever-growing problem and that it would be a “disaster” if it wasn’t tackled properly.

“I mean it’ll be catastrophic,” he continued. “It is already beginning to be catastrophic because nothing in nature can survive the stress that is created by these extremes of weather.”

Charles has spoken often about the need for action when it comes to climate change. In September last year the prince called for a “Marshall-like plan” to tackle global warming.

He said: “At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and the planet.

“We must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign,” he added.

Speaking of the UK committing to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, he said we need to bring this date forward by 20 years. “2050 simply suggests we have room to delay. It is absolutely vital, given the enormity of the problem we face, that we make truly transformative progress along the road to net zero by 2030.”

In January 2020, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the prince said climate change posed the greatest threat to humanity.

He said: “We are in the midst of a crisis that is now, I hope, well understood. Global warming, climate change, the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats that humanity has ever faced and one largely of our own creation.”

What have the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said about climate change?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to launch their Earthshot Prize this weekend

With the couple’s Earthshot Prize launching this week, Prince William encouraged entrepreneurs to focus on sorting out climate change rather than sending people into space.

Speaking to BBC’s Newscast podcast, the duke said the world’s greatest brains and minds should be “trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live”.

During the same interview, William said it would be an “absolute disaster” if his oldest son, Prince George was still talking about climate change in 30 years.

“It shouldn’t be that there’s a third generation now coming along having to ramp it up even more,” he said. “And you know, for me, it would be an absolute disaster if George is sat here talking to you or your successor, Adam, you know in like 30 years’ time still saying the same thing, because by then we will be too late.”

Following an outing to Kew Gardens this week for Generation Earthshot - a way for young people to get involved in the Earthshot Prize - William and Kate released a statement which cited education as an important aspect when it comes to protecting our planet.

The statement read: “We must inspire in the next generation the optimism, confidence and enthusiasm to chase those solutions and to continue building a more sustainable future. We know that young children already identify the climate as one of their biggest worries, and Generation Earthshot aims to educate and encourage them that together we can find the answers.”

What have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said about climate change?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have said they’ll only have two children for environmental reasons

Earlier this year, Prince Harry voiced his concerns about climate change in the Apple TV+ special, “The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward”.

“With kids growing up in today’s world, pretty depressing, right, depending on where you live, your home country is either on fire, it’s either underwater, houses or forests are being flattened,” Harry said.

“Climate change is really playing a huge part in this as well as social media, and we just don’t - well, I mean, I know lots of people out there are doing as best they can to try and fix these issues - but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off.

“Are we supposed to accept that these problems are just going to grow and grow and grow and then we’re going to have to adapt to them and build resilience amongst the next generation and the next generation and the next generation?

“Or is there really a moment, a reckoning moment, post-Covid, where we can actually look at each other, look at ourselves and go ‘we need to do better about stopping or allowing the things that are causing so much harm to so many of us at the source, rather than being distracted by the symptom’.”

In 2019, Meghan and Harry revealed that they would have a maximum of two children, citing environmental reasons.

“I’ve always wanted to try and ensure that, even before having a child and hoping to have children – two, maximum,” Harry told Vogue.

“I’ve always thought: this place is borrowed. And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.”

Just this week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they had partnered with sustainable investing firm, Ethic. In a statement on their Archewell website, the couple said: “We want to rethink the nature of investing to help solve the global issues we all face.

“When we invest in each other, we change the world…”

Prince Harry also launched a global campaign this week to halt drilling in Africa’s Okavango river basin. The campaign is part of the work he’s doing with environmental non-profit Re:wild, where he has asked corporate oil drillers not to “pillage the ecosystem for potential profit”.

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