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Harry criticises climate change deniers

The Duke of Sussex, speaking in Botswana, said he could not understand how anyone, from children to leaders, denied the science.

The Duke of Sussex during a tree planting event with local children (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Duke of Sussex during a tree planting event with local children (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent in Kasane, Botswana

The Duke of Sussex has strongly criticised climate change deniers, just days after schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg accused world leaders of failing to act.

Harry’s comments were made during a brief visit to Botswana, and he described how the nation was a refuge for him following the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Prince of Wales took his son to Africa after Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, a decision the duke said allowed him “to get away from it all”.

Harry, who was highlighting a forest conservation project in the northern town of Kasane, said there was “undeniable science and facts” behind climate change, and he could not understand how anyone, from children to leaders, denied the science.

He did not mention any individuals by name, but his comments are likely to be interpreted by commentators as a veiled rebuke to climate change sceptic US President Donald Trump.

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Harry was highlighting a forest conservation project in the northern town of Kasane (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The president, who has described climate change as a ruse by the Chinese to hurt US manufacturing, has said: “We should be focused on magnificently clean and healthy air and not distracted by the expensive hoax that is global warming!”

Speaking on the banks on the Chobe River, where he helped young children plant Natal mahogany trees, he highlighted the activism of Ms Thunberg, who has sparked the global climate strike movement and addressed a UN one-day summit on the issue this week.

The duke said: “This last week, led by Greta, the world’s children are striking.

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The Duke of Sussex helps plant a baobab tree (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“There is an emergency, it’s a race against time and one in which we are losing, and everyone knows it.

“There is no excuse for not knowing, that I think the most troubling part of it is – I don’t believe there is anybody in this world that can deny science, undeniable science and facts.

“Science and facts that have been around the last 30, nearly 40 years, and it’s only getting stronger and stronger.

“Genuinely I don’t understand how anyone in this world, whoever we are, you, us, children, leaders, whoever it is, no-one can deny science, otherwise we live in a very, very troubling world.”

The duke’s climate change stance was criticised after he reportedly took four private jet journeys in 11 days during the summer with Meghan, a decision apparently at odds with his views on supporting the environment.

In response Harry said he spent “99% of my life” using commercial flights but occasionally needed to ensure “my family are safe”.

Botswana is a place Harry loves and knows well, and he reportedly whisked his wife there in 2017 to mark her 36th birthday – a year after their love blossomed in the nation during a brief visit soon after they met on a blind date.

Meghan’s engagement ring not only features diamonds from the personal collection of Diana, but a stone from Botswana.

I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa Prince Harry

The duke, who also helped plant a large baobab tree as part of the project to recreate forest habitat along the banks of the Chobe River, said coming to Botswana gave him: “A sense of escapism…a real sense of purpose.”

Harry added: “I came here in 1997, 1998, straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all.

“But now I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa.”

After planting the large Baobab tree, Harry was the centre of a performance where he was feted and praised by a group of Sentebale Let Youth Lead advocates.

The youth leaders, from the duke’s Sentebale charity which supports young people living with HIV, recreated a confidence boosting activity from camps staged in Botswana to support youngsters with the virus.

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The Duke of Sussex on the Chobe river in Kasane, Botswana (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Called super camper, children are praised to boost their confidence using singing and dancing.

Harry laughed as one young advocate gave a poem-style tribute to him.

To smiles and laughter from dozens of young leaders, the young man said: “You make us feel like royalty.

“You left baby Archie and his mother to come and spend time with us, we appreciate you and love you.”

The duke then sat down with the young advocates to listen to issues they wanted to raise at a health centre in Kasane.

Harry ended his visit to the country by taking a boat trip on the Chobe River with service personnel to learn about the challenges the military and government face combating poachers by patrolling the waters.

The riverbanks are usually teeming with wildlife, especially elephants, but only a few hippos were spotted some distance from the duke’s boat.

PA

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