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Jakarta Post

Royals, billionaires join climate fight

  • M. Taufiqurrahman

    The Jakarta Post

Le Bourget   /   Wed, December 2, 2015   /  06:21 pm

At a conference where participants are mostly politicians and bureaucrats who speak mostly in jargon and acronyms, even the presence of the Prince of Wales could lighten up the room.

On the second day of the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris on Tuesday, Prince Charles used his regal presence to prod countries like Brazil and Indonesia to make pledges to save their tropical rainforests.

While most of the audience in Conference Hall 5 at the Le Bourget Convention Center in the suburbs of Paris were there only to get a glimpse of a member of the British Royal Family, the significant presence of the media could be effective in amplifying his message.

'€œThis could be the largest audience I have ever presided over,'€ The Prince of Wales said in a self-deprecating tone before launching into a 15-minute speech on the need for countries to set new ambitious targets to fight deforestation.

'€œDespite our best efforts we continue to deplete our forests,'€ he told the audience after outlining three practical ways to protect the world'€™s forests '€” protecting indigenous people living within and around forests, designing ecologically resilient landscape management and inviting greater participation from the business community.

The prince has been effective in his work with the business community through the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, through which he has worked with 23 global companies to promote sustainable practices.

On Monday, the group supported a call by governments and businesses to end fossil fuel subsidies.

In making the call, the Prince of Wales was joined in the venue by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who is known as a staunch environmentalist and has previously called for a ban on people taking showers to help save the environment.

The Prince of Wales and King Carl were only two among many luminaries who jetted to Paris to take part in COP21 to help the campaign against global warming.

On Monday, philanthropist Bill Gates joined US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande on stage to make an announcement that could spur the boom in clean energy.

In what was called Mission Innovation, 20 governments, including the US, pledged to double their spending on clean-energy research and development by 2020.

In another initiative, Gates led the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of 28 private investors who will commit some of their money to clean energy initiatives.

Gates himself has pledged US$1 billion to the project, while other tech luminaries including Facebook'€™s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon'€™s Jeff Bezos and Virgin'€™s Richard Branson are expected to follow suit.

Many state leaders speaking at COP21 have not always been in agreement on what to do in dealing with climate change.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the Paris conference was not the finish line but a new starting point '€” which set the bar low for others '€” while President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo said that countries needed to be realistic about dealing with climate change.

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