Climate change has ‘huge impact’ on Syrian conflict – Prince Charles

Britain's Prince Charles © Steve Parsons
Failure to properly address climate change issues has played a role in the rise of terrorism and instability in Syria, Prince Charles has said in an interview.

Speaking to Sky News in an interview to air Monday, the heir to the British throne claimed climate change “has a huge impact on what is happening.”

“There’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land,” he said.

Prince Charles told the broadcaster: “We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem…it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move.”

Prince Charles’ comments echo the findings of a report published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which highlighted the effect of a 2007-2010 drought on the conflict in Syria.

Asked if Britain can afford to address climate change in a time of budget cuts and austerity, the 67-year-old prince said: “The trouble is if we don’t, this is the awful thing, if we don’t it’s going to get so much worse, then life will become very, very complicated indeed, and what we’re experiencing now will be as nothing to the problems.”

The interview, which was recorded prior to the deadly Paris massacre, comes ahead of a major UN climate change summit in Paris next week, where more than 100 heads of state will try to secure an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Charles is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the conference.

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The prince has long been a passionate advocate for environmental issues. In 2009, Charles addressed the UN’s last major climate change summit in Copenhagen. In 2007, he founded the Prince’s Rainforest Group to search for a solution to tropical deforestation.