Prince Charles urges world to react to climate change with same urgency as coronavirus

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

Prince Charles has called for the same level of response to climate change as coronavirus as he said “we must put ourselves on a war footing”.

The Duke of Cornwall was speaking at a WaterAid event on Tuesday when he drew the comparison between climate change and the deadly virus sweeping the globe.

He told a roundtable at the charity, of which he is president: “With the urgency that now exists around avoiding irreversible damage to our planet, we must put ourselves on what can only be described as a war footing.

“The current battle against the coronavirus at least demonstrates, if nothing else, how quickly the world can mobilise when we identify a common threat.”

He also later described the virus as contributing to a “perfect storm” of threat multipliers to the environmental issue.

Charles attends an event hosted by WaterAid, of which he is president. (Getty Images)
Charles gave a speech to delegates at a WaterAid event. (Getty Images)

On Monday, he and other members of the Royal Family had to employ alternatives to handshakes as they attended the Commonwealth Day Service in Westminster Abbey.

Prince Harry elbow bumped with Craig David, while Charles held his hands together and used the namaste greeting.

Charles’s meeting with WaterAid representatives, in the King’s Cross area of London, focused on how climate change affects drinking water availability.

WaterAid works to provide clean water, decent toilets and hygiene knowledge across the globe, and states that 3.6 billion people live in areas where water is scarce, due to issues like drought or flooding contaminating supplies.

Read more: Protesters arrested moments before Royal Family attends Commonwealth Day Service

Also present with Charles was Prince Albert of Monaco, a long-term supporter of WaterAid, environment minister Lord Goldsmith and senior representatives from global companies like the World Bank, Unilever and international water organisations.

Charles used a namaste greeting on Monday instead of shaking hands. (Getty Images)

The prince told the delegates: “I’m hugely grateful to WaterAid and all the other partners who are here today for bringing water and climate into focus in this – it literally is vital – super year.

“Somewhat of course now interrupted by other horrors like coronavirus, which makes it all much more complicated, so we end up with a perfect storm now of threat multipliers in all directions.”

His comments come after Extinction Rebellion said the dramatic reaction to coronavirus proves government can take greater action to combat climate change.

Read more: Coronavirus quarantine shows climate change 'is solvable', Extinction Rebellion says

The environmental group pointed to a media report on how pollution has dropped in China as attempts to stop the virus spreading led to factories being shut down.

Reacting on its Facebook page, Extinction Rebellion wrote: “Proof that the climate and ecological emergency is solvable and that the solution has nothing to do with population.”

The outbreak of the virus has had a large impact on economies across the world, with stock markets tumbling in response to the outbreak and companies losing money.

More than 80,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in mainland China, while more than 100,000 have been declared globally.