LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles said on Wednesday the urgent global response to the coronavirus showed how the world could tackle climate change, and that recovery from the disease presented a chance to create a more sustainable future.
In a statement to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the heir to the throne, long an environmental campaigner, likened the impact of coronavirus on the world’s population with the effect human behaviour had had on the planet.
“If we look at the planet as if it were a patient, we can see that our activities have been damaging her immune system and she has been struggling to breathe and thrive due to the strain we have put on her vital organs,” Charles said.
“I am confident that we can use this crisis to reset our course by putting people and planet first,” he added.
The 71-year-old prince, who himself has recovered after suffering mild symptoms of COVID-19, has championed environmental causes for decades, warning that global warming and climate change were the greatest threats to humanity.
In his statement, he said people often only took necessary drastic action when there was imminent danger such as the one posed by the coronavirus.
“It has also shown us that it is indeed possible to find and scale up global solutions when we agree on a higher, common purpose,” he said.
To curb the spread of the virus, there have been lockdowns across the world, with less industrial activity, far fewer car journeys and vast numbers of flights cancelled, and Charles said this presented a roadmap for the future.
“We need only look to the improved air quality in some of the world’s major cities and the return of wildlife to our communities and waterways,” he said.
When the current crisis is over, Charles said he hoped the world would reflect on how it might help shape a more environmentally friendly future.
“As we move from rescue to recovery, we have a unique window of opportunity to learn lessons and position ourselves on a more sustainable path,” he said.
“Rarely do we have the opportunity to pause, reflect and reset our trajectory. I would encourage us all to reimagine the world we want and use all the levers we have at our disposal, knowing that each and every one one of us has a vital role to play.”
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)