The Prince of Wales is taking part in a new project to expose the impact that major corporations have on the environment.
The project, which currently focuses on Commonwealth nations, shows those companies causing high levels of pollution and failing to accurately disclose information on their emissions. It threatens to take legal action against them unless they change their ways soon.
Known as the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative (CCLI), Prince Charles’s new project aims to publicise and develop environmental laws in Britain, Australia, South Africa and Canada that would enable investors to take polluting firms to court. They hope that, by making investors aware, these measures will bring about a change in corporate behaviour and attitudes towards the environment.
The wheels of action started moving earlier this year, when Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned company directors in the UK that they could be held legally responsible for failing to meet environmental standards and manage climate change risks.
The CCLI was officially launched on the first day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on Thursday. Prince Charles, who attended the event along with his parents, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, gave a speech at the business forum, addressing the issue of climate change. He said mankind could be left facing a “perfect storm” if drastic action isn’t taken soon.
Charles is providing support for the CCLI through another of his projects, Accounting for Sustainability, which was founded in 2004 with the view to change corporate behaviour. The initiative is also backed by the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, activist lawyers at ClientEarth, and members of the band Coldplay.
“Climate change poses significant risks for pension funds and companies, in addition to that faced by society as a whole,” said Jessica Fries, executive chairman of Accounting for Sustainability.
“Trustees and company directors need to ensure that they respond appropriately. A proper understanding of the legal and fiduciary responsibilities is key. This new initiative will explore the issues faced and help to develop a response.”
James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, added: “The days of treating climate change as a fringe concern are over and the potential for climate change litigation against companies or individual directors is growing. They urgently need clarity on their responsibilities, so this initiative is timely.”
The Prince’s latest initiative comes as he prepares to address scientists and world leaders at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December, Charles will make a keynote speech as he aims to help talks to agree on a deal that will cover carbon emissions beyond 2020.
Prince Charles also recently spoke with Sky News over climate change and the environment when he told the channel’s Royal Correspondent, Rhiannon Mills, that climate change was causing the ongoing refugee crisis and conflict in Syria.