The future King has used the Royal Family’s soft diplomatic power as he officially launched a UN-hosted biodiversity conference in Kunming, China. Prince Charles warned attendees humanity is bringing devastation upon itself by not respecting and protecting nature.
And he argued the world’s biggest polluters, which also count China, must adopt a “polluter pays principle”.
A similar move would accelerate the green economy by “properly pricing carbon”.
This would make carbon less appealing not just from an environmental point of view but also less financially profitable for businesses and governments.
Prince Charles, who had been invited to speak at the United Nations’ conference by Chinese President Xi Jinping, laid down a three-point plan to save the planet in his opening remarks at this morning’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity.
First, he urged world economies to put “nature at the heart of our economy”.
Second, he explained his “polluter pays” principle, as a way to push governments to adopt greener solutions.
Finally, he said leaders should rethink “our land, food and health systems”, using more sustainable practices.
In a video message recorded from his UK residence, Prince Charles told the conference’s attendees: “It is a humbling realisation that everything we need to survive, the food we eat, the water we drink, the oxygen we breathe, depends on the work of other species and the eco-system they create.
READ MORE: Prince Andrew ‘blocked from Charles’ royal banquet’
“Yet, we continue blindly to wipe out species that hold the secret to so many innovative and sustainable products for the future.
“We seem intent on testing our unique world to destruction.”
Prince Charles then paid tribute to China’s traditions, possibly trying to sway its leadership to make significant commitments to cutting the country’s carbon emissions and reducing the impact its fast economic growth is having on the planet.
He continued: “But, as Chinese culture has long understood, our interrelationship with nature is critical for our own health and that of everything around us.
“When we protect lands and oceans, we in fact protect ourselves.
“Nature bounces back, bringing with her all the benefits on which life depends.”
Prince Charles’s invitation to the biodiversity conference comes amid the backdrop of a complicated relationship between the Prince of Wales and China.
In October 1999, the heir to the throne did not attend the state dinner taking place during the official visit to the UK of the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
In 2015, he missed another state banquet, this time thrown to welcome Xi Jinping.
However, Buckingham Palace stressed ahead of this state visit the Prince of Wales would meet the Chinese president several times during his stay in the UK.
At the time, these moves were perceived as snubs to the Communist leaders, partly due to Prince Charles’s close relationship with the Dalai Lama – the spiritual leader of the disputed territory of Tibet.
This morning’s speech by Charles comes as the UK is preparing to host the UN’s climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow.
The heir to the throne has called this conference “the gamechanger the world so desperately needs”.
He will be among the royal guests carrying out a series of engagements during the first few days of the summit.
He will be joined by the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
COP26 begins on October 31 and will last until November 12.