May 1, 2007 / 2:59 PM / 13 years ago

War spirit can beat climate change: Prince Charles

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain can lead the fight against climate change using the same spirit of grit it displayed in World War Two, Prince Charles told business leaders on Tuesday.

Britain's Prince Charles waves to members of the Welsh Guards as he leaves a ceremony at a European Union Force's base near Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, March 1, 2007. Britain can lead the fight against climate change using the same spirit of grit it displayed in World War Two, Prince Charles told business leaders on Tuesday. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

The heir to the throne has already flaunted his personal green credentials, at a time when fighting global warming is high on the British political agenda, and on Tuesday urged top industry executives to do the same for business.

“Just think what they did in the last war,” he said, referring to Britain’s allied victory against Germany. “Things that seemed impossible were achieved almost overnight.”

“Business has that power and can really make a difference.”

At a May Day summit, the Prince addressed heads of British and other European businesses ranging from Boots and Marks & Spencer to EDF, KPMG and F&C. And he used the date to recall his days in Britain’s navy, and evoke the urgent danger posed by climate change.

“When I was serving in the Royal Navy ... “May Day, May Day, May Day” was the distress call used in cases of emergency.”

“It still is - and this is an emergency we face.”

Prince Charles recently pledged to exchange private planes and helicopters for public transport and biodiesel cars. He has improved energy efficiency at his country homes and provided bicycles to his London staff — all to reduce his carbon footprint.

The May Day business and climate change summit invited companies to make pledges to cut their contribution to climate change, and it did not fall on deaf ears.

Casting electronic votes, the majority of the 110 top executives assembled in plush surroundings at St. James’s Palace felt business could do more to fight climate change than government.

EDF Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz pledged to cut the utility’s energy use by 30 percent and its transport carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2012.

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