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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Prince's plea over climate change
Prince Charles at Home Farm

Prince Charles says climate change should be seen as the "greatest challenge to face man" and treated as a much bigger priority in the UK.

The prince unveiled his vision for the future of the environment, farming and food in an exclusive BBC interview.

He said climate change was "what really worries me", and he did not want his future grandchildren to ask why he had not acted over the issue.

He also encouraged consumers to buy regional produce to help UK farming.

The Prince of Wales spoke to BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee at his farm, Home Farm in Gloucestershire.

He said climate change was a big issue for the future of farming, and affected considerations such as which crops should be grown.

"We should be treating, I think, the whole issue of climate change and global warming with a far greater degree of priority than I think is happening now," he said in the interview on Radio 4's Today programme.

He said moves should be taken to ensure "there was something left to hand on" to future generations.

Small farms

The prince said his interest in farming started as a child when he had a "small patch" at Buckingham Palace where he would grow tomatoes.

He said growing things and eating what you produced was an "important part of one's connection with the soil" and tasted "infinitely better".

Prince Charles said small family farms were "vital" for the preservation of the English countryside and rural communities and that he believed in "food security".

"I think we would be foolish to expect that we can import everything from somewhere else and imagine that this is going to last forever, and ever and ever," he said.

He said factors such as climate change, global warming and the cost of fuel could make things "very complicated" in the future.

We could end up completely industrialising the landscape
Prince Charles

The prince said consumers could "make a huge difference" by the choices they made when shopping, as well as by pushing supermarkets and other retailers to do things "that perhaps they are not already doing".

"We spend far less on food, as a percentage of income, than on the Continent," he said.

But, he said, it was "incredible" that way British food had developed over the last 10 years.

The prince also spoke of his fears for the industrialisation of farming, and said agriculture must be thought of as a "culture" and not an industry.

"We've got to be a bit careful otherwise we could end up completely industrialising the landscape because it is efficient," he said.

The point here of course is that it is a global problem that can only be solved with global action
Sir David King
Chief scientific adviser

The Prince of Wales also said farmers always faced "some other worry around the corner" and that the opening up of markets and trading of produce made it "a real danger" diseases could be introduced.

He expressed fears over the possibility of bird flu, adding that he "felt deeply" for poultry farmers facing such concerns.

The prince said reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which has meant farmers are now paid to looking after the landscape rather than producing food, was "difficult for people who have been encouraged to look at life in one particular way".

But, he said, farmers must learn to work co-operatively.

'Leading the way'

Sir David King, the government's chief scientist, endorsed the prince's warning about the dangers of global warming.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Yes, I do agree with him, and I think I have gone on record saying much the same thing.

He needs to lead by example, cut down his travel and support renewable energy
Vicki Thomas, Llandrindod Wells

"The point here of course is that it is a global problem that can only be solved with global action. So, by putting it at the head of our G8 agenda alongside African poverty, I think that we [the government] did lead the way.

"But also, in setting out in 2003 our energy programme, the government stated that by 2050 we will reduce our emissions by 60%.

"That was the most clear statement from any government in the world on action that was being taken to deal with the problem."

Environmental campaigner and writer George Monbiot told the BBC that the prince was the second biggest carbon user in the country, after his mother, and he should take action himself.

He said he would have given Prince Charles more credit if he had pledged to "get rid" of his private plane and helicopter, as well as move into a smaller house "rather than using two homes which use about the same amount of energy as a medium sized town".

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02 Aug 05 |  Scotland
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28 Jun 04 |  Berkshire


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