The Duke of Cambridge has told Britain’s Overseas Territories they are “on the front lines” of climate change.
Prince William called for keeping the pressure on world leaders to tackle climate change as he addressed delegates gathered at the Foreign Office in London.
William, 39, speaking to representatives from 14 territories, said: “You are all on the front lines.
“Your contributions to global emissions are negligible, yet you face the dire consequences of rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and destruction of coral reefs.
“Climate change threatens the very survival of territories, your lifestyles and the future of all your peoples.
The meeting was the first face-to-face meeting in three years of the Joint Ministerial Council, which brings together British ministers and the leaders of the Overseas Territories (OTs), which are found in some of the most remote places on Earth.
Almost all territories are vulnerable in one way or another to sea level rise and face habitat loss and increasing natural disasters due to climate change and invasive species such as than rats.
The future king said he was happy the territories voiced concerns for their future at the United Nations Cop26 climate change conference in Glasgow earlier this month.
These are Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory and Cayman Islands, to the sovereignty areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, Falkland Islands , Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan. da Cuhna, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
William added: “I am delighted that the Overseas Territories were represented at Cop26 and that you were able to voice not only your concerns but also your efforts to deal with the immense problems you are facing.
“But we must keep up the pressure if we are to reduce emissions and support those on the front lines of climate change. We must continue to tell your story.
The Duke praised the initiatives taken across the territories to combat the worst effects of climate change.
He said: “The challenges you face as a result of climate change can seem overwhelming.
“But I believe that with urgency and optimism comes action. And humans have an extraordinary ability to make the impossible possible.
Land losses and migrations are expected in some areas such as the Pitcairn Islands.
Natural disasters are expected to become more frequent and longer, including drought in the Mediterranean and storms in the Caribbean, where two hurricanes caused £ 3.2 billion in damage in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands in 2017.
The 14 TOs contain around 94% of all unique species for which the UK is responsible and have marine areas that span over 2% of the world’s ocean surface.
They contain around 3,300 species that don’t exist anywhere else and there are potentially 1,800 to 2,100 other undiscovered species there, scientists estimate.