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Prince Philip blasted ‘useless hand-wringing’ at conference 50 years before COP26 | Royal | News

Prince Philip speaks at World Conference on Pollution in 1970

More than 100 world leaders have pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030, as the COP26 summit’s first major deal was struck. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 110 leaders had agreed to the “landmark” commitment. An area of forest the size of 27 football pitches is lost every single minute of the day.

The countries that have signed the pledge cover roughly 85% of the world’s forest.

Brazil was among the signatories — a country where vast stretches of the Amazon rainforest are being cut down all the time.

Trees are a crucial defence against a warming planet. They absorb carbon dioxide, sucking in approximately a third of global CO2 emitted each year.

The summit is considered crucial if climate change is to be controlled and the planet is to be saved for future generations.

READ MORE: Prince Charles FALLS OVER on the stairs before COP26 speech

Prince Philip made a passionate speech 50 years before COP26. (Image: GETTY)

Boris Johnson and David Attenborough

Hundreds of world leaders are gathered in Glasgow this week. (Image: GETTY)

As it stands, our planet will have warmed by 2.7℃ by the end of the century. Global leaders hope to keep this temperature rise below 1.5℃.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported Mr Johnson told Prince Charles last night: “I just want to say you’re a prophet without honour and you’ve been right for a very long time.”

Charles has campaigned for more to be done about the climate change crisis for approaching 50 years, and his father, Prince Philip, had done the same before him.

The Duke of Edinburgh championed environmental causes throughout his life and helped found the World Wildlife Fund.

Prince Philip

The Duke made the speech at a pollution conference back in 1970. (Image: Twitter)

He sought to draw attention to the dangers posed by poaching, deforestation and pollution, alongside a host of other causes.

In an unearthed video, the Duke gave a passionate speech at the World Conference on Pollution in Strasbourg in February 1970.

He said: “It’s totally useless for a lot of well-meaning people to wring their hands in conference and to point out the dangers of pollution or destruction of the countryside, if no one is willing or capable of taking any action.

“The impassioned speeches will be so much effluent under the bridge unless it is followed by drastic political action.”

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Prince Charles and Prince Philip

Charles and Philip both attended the 1970 conference. (Image: GETTY)

He warned “time is fast running out” at the conference 51 years ago. Philip did, however, admit that “even naturalists drive cars occasionally”.

He later called for unity among environmentalists.

At the Australian Conservation Foundation in 1973, the Duke said: “It’s important for every faction in conversation to realise that we are all part of the same popular conservation movement and that, in spite of differences of emphasis within the movement, our only hope of making any impression on public, industrial or government opinion and outlook is to do our homework and to do our best to work together.”

The Queen referenced her husband’s fight against climate change in her COP26 speech last night.

The Queen's speech at COP26.

The Queen paid tribute to Philip in her video message last night. (Image: GETTY)

In a pre-recorded message, she told world leaders: “The impact of the environment on human progress was a subject close to the heart of my dear late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

“I remember well that in 1969, he told an academic gathering: ‘If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time.

“If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.’”

The Queen also echoed her late husband’s frustration at political hand-wringing in comments last month when she criticised world leaders who “talk but don’t do”.

Philip’s work lives on in his son and grandsons. Charles and Prince William are both in attendance at COP26, while Prince Harry has a history of speaking out on climate change action.

Sir David Attenborough has also recognised the Duke’s influence, not just at home but abroad too.

The broadcaster said during the BBC coverage of the Duke’s funeral: “He was right there at the beginning at a time when conservation didn’t mean much to many people. Even in the fifties and sixties he saw it universally.”

He added: “If people are aware that there are problems [with wildlife conservation], a great deal of that is due to him.”

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