Prince Charles says people should walk and cycle more to help preserve their own health, as well that of the planet – and in an attack on climate change deniers, pointed out that organisations such as the UN and the health profession would be unlikely to be behind a "half-baked conspiracy."
The heir to the throne, speaking at the Royal Society in London, cautioned governments not to heed those who underplay the impact of climate change, and to act now to combat its effects, reports the website Responding to Climate Change.
He said: “The gravity and immediacy of the threat it poses to us and our children and grandchildren is accepted by constituencies that can scarcely be accused of being part of some half-baked conspiracy dreamt up by extreme environmentalists intent on undermining capitalism.
“These constituencies include the UN, the World Bank; The Pentagon and the UK Ministry of Defence, the CIA, NSA. … and, I’m happy to say, nurses and doctors.
“The Intergovernmental COP21 climate change negotiations that will take place in December provide perhaps our last opportunity to set targets that will keep the world to below two degrees of warming,” he went on.
“Should we miss this moment the chances of success are, I fear, vanishingly small. We must ensure that there is a real willingness to act and that such actions are meaningful in quality and scale.”
He urged people to get around on two legs, or two wheels, for their own health, as well as for the wellbeing of the planet.
“Actions which are good for the planet are also good for human health,” he said. “Taking a more active approach to transport by walking and cycling and adopting healthy diets reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and more – saving lives and money.
“Reductions in air pollution also result – with separate and additional benefits to human health. A healthy planet and healthy people are two sides of the same coin.”
Last year, Bloomberg reported that a monitoring station on London’s Marylebone Road had the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide – generated by emissions from diesel vehicles – anywhere in Europe, running at more than twice the permitted EU level.
Public Health England said last April that more than 3,000 Londoners died in 2010 alone as a result of particles called particles called PM2.5s which also come from diesel vehicles.
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett told Bloomberg last year: “Fifty-six percent of journeys we make in Britain are less than 5 miles. If you turn a significant percentage of those into walking and cycling journeys, then you’ve made huge progress.”
Governments of EU member states were required to reduce air pollution to “safe levels” by 2010, with some countries granted a five-year extension to 2015 if they could show they could comply by then.
The UK is unlikely to meet its target for reduction of emissions from diesels for another decade, and faces fines of some £300 million a year from the European Commission as a result.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.