Prince Charles says firms must prioritise climate change fight

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles said companies must put nature and sustainability at the heart of their business models because the world is “literally at the last hour” in the fight against climate change.

Charles, 71, who has long campaigned on green issues, said the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic presented an unprecedented opportunity for a shift towards a sustainable model.

“I’m afraid we are literally at the last hour. And there is real urgency for action,” the prince told the Green Horizon Summit, designed to mobilise the financial sector in the run-up to a U.N. climate change conference next year.

“We know now what we have to do to rescue the situation, rather than going on, talking about it.”

He outlined 10 immediate actions that could make a significant difference from mobilising investment in sustainable infrastructure to increasing carbon capture use and storage to “buy us precious time” as the world moves to a net zero economy.

“We must start accounting for natural capital on companies’ balance sheets,” he said. “Without this firms simply cannot tell the true value of their asset base nor how damaging their operations may be on the natural world.”

Charles’s call came the day after Britain’s financial watchdog said from January companies listed on the London Stock Exchange would have to improve disclosures on the risks they were facing from climate change.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak also told parliament that a Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) would become mandatory by 2025, going beyond “comply or explain” to support the greening of the UK economy.

In September, Charles called for a military-style response to the threat of climate change reminiscent of the U.S. Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe, saying the world was facing a catastrophe.

“With the urgency required, I hope you will join me to drive a new Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet, led by the private sector to align our collective efforts and resources for the highest possible impact,” he told the summit.

(This story refiles to amend word “hour” in quote)

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Kate Holton