The Prince of Wales urges business leaders to move faster on climate change

By Vanora Bennett

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The Prince of Wales opened the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s 29th Annual Meeting on Wednesday with a powerful pre-recorded video message.

The Prince of Wales tells EBRD 2020 Annual Meeting world must reach net-zero carbon before its 2050 target date 

Read the speech

The Prince of Wales opened the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s 29th Annual Meeting on Wednesday with a powerful pre-recorded video message, urging business leaders to be “even more ambitious, and even more radical” in moving towards a low-carbon future, as “time is rapidly running out”.

At the meeting, the EBRD is seeking permission from its governors to make a majority of its investments green by 2025. The Bank is a leader in worldwide efforts to keep global warming below 2C, which are focussed on cutting greenhouse gas emissions to reach “net zero” emissions – no more greenhouse gas emitted than can be saved by carbon capture - by 2050.

The Prince of Wales urged the business community to go further still. “If we have the resolve to shift our trajectory, we must start now by bringing forward our net-zero target – I am afraid 2050 simply suggests we have room to delay. We do not,” he said in the recorded speech released at the opening of the two-day meeting.

“International financial institutions and development banks such as the EBRD have an absolutely crucial role to play in this.  After all, we know that it is not a lack of capital that is impeding our progress, but how we deploy it,” he added. 

Referring to the global coronavirus pandemic of 2020, The Prince said it “exemplifies the devastating impact global threats can pose to human and economic wellbeing.  As recent reports reaffirm, human-induced climate change and industrial activities are destroying, degrading and fragmenting Nature at an unprecedented rate – affecting the life-sustaining systems on which we all depend.” 

The Prince of Wales is already working to develop what he calls “coalitions of the willing” to stimulate recovery by taking climate action further.

Last month, at the opening of Climate Week, he called for a six-point “Marshall Plan for Nature, People and Planet” to advance a “blue-green” recovery and set the course for a sustainable future rooted in a new economic model – in other words, a circular bioeconomy that puts Nature and the restoration of Natural Capital back at the centre of the entire process.”

 “Achieving a sustainable future is the growth story of our time and can, in fact, fuel our post-pandemic recovery in a way that pays dividends for decades to come. But after so much delay, procrastination and ceaseless talking, the window for action is rapidly closing….Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less – it is, I am afraid, up to all of you to lead the way out of the mess we have created – now!”

The Prince of Wales, who has a lifelong commitment to making the future greener, has long ties with the EBRD.

In 1993, he opened its current headquarters at Exchange Square, in the City of London, highlighting the important role it had to play in “generating and sustaining the right momentum”.

During the message, HRH praised the development bank for being “dedicated to the transition to sustainable markets ever since its founding nearly 30 years ago” and said how encouraging he found it that “in your vital work on the green economy it seems you may possibly have taken my words to heart.”

The EBRD’s new Green Economy Transition (GET) approach for 2021-25, seeking majority green investment, forms part of the Bank’s overall strategy for the next five years.

If approved, GET 2021-25 will be the EBRD’s new blueprint for supporting its countries of operation pursue a green, inclusive and resilient recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

 

The window for action on climate change is rapidly closing, The Prince of Wales has told the EBRD 2020 Annual Meeting.

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GET 2021-25 will build on the success of an already ambitious GET approach for 2015-20, which the EBRD launched in the run-up to  the Paris climate conference, where countries agreed to take action to keep global warming below 2C.

The first GET approach has already taken EBRD green investments to 46 per cent of its total investment last year, from an average of 24 per cent in the decade to 2015.

The EBRD is pursuing its ever more ambitious green strategy while continuing to offer short-term support to its countries and clients to address the implications of Covid-19. 

All EBRD investments in 2020-21, worth €21 billion, are already committed to helping these countries counter the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

An emergency support programme for infrastructure providers is helping ensure the provision of vital services and the continuation of sustainable infrastructure projects despite acute pressure from the pandemic.

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