Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Prince Charles, the imminent impact of Climate Change will dwarf the impact of Coronavirus. After years of denial, the world has no choice but to impact a climate action Marshall Plan.
The following is Prince Charles delivering a the opening keynote speech to Climate Week NYC.
My prediction is Prince Charles will be the last king of Britain.
An almost powerless constitutional monarch can be a source of stability, when the monarch behaves.
In 1975 the reserve powers of the British monarchy in Australia were controversially exercised to remove the far left Whitlam government, which many people believed was operating well outside its manifesto mandate. There was widespread fear Whitlam was trying to engineer a Cuban style Communist revolution.
The December 1975 election which immediately followed the removal led to a resounding defeat for Whitlam and his party, so the overwhelming majority of Australians supported Whitlam’s removal.
But the deal is the monarch is not supposed to be political. This game of holding a final resort over the heads of elected politicians only works if the monarch is widely trusted, if the monarch is prepared to stay in the background, and if people are confident the monarch will only exercise their reserve powers as a last resort, when the democracy itself appears to be in peril.
When you have an activist royal like Prince Charles, who refuses to stay in his box, who repeatedly attempts to usurp government authority and influence policy, and who takes polarising political positions which do not necessarily reflect the will of the people, monarchy ceases to be a source of stability.
The following is a transcript taken from the video closed caption text. I supplied the punctuation, sorry in advance for any mistakes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m delighted to have been invited to open this year’s critical climate week.
The borderless climate biodiversity and health crises are all symptoms of a planet that has been pushed beyond its planetary boundaries. Without swift and immediate action at an unprecedented pace and scale we will miss the window of opportunity to reset for a green blue recovery and a more sustainable and inclusive future.
In other words the global pandemic is a wake-up call we simply cannot ignore.
Having been at this now for well over 40 years, I have long observed that people tend not to act until there is a real crisis. Ladies and gentlemen that crisis has been with us for far too many years. Decried denigrated and denied, it is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a martial-like plan for nature people and planet, with the planetary emergency so critical, with the permafrost melting in Siberia for instance producing dire effects on global warming, and with the Pantanal in Brazil being consumed by unprecedented numbers of fires, we could no longer go on like this as if there was no tomorrow, and no ultimate reckoning for our abuse of nature.
So what do we do? Without doubt we must now put ourselves on a war-like footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign.
That way, working together we can combat this most grave and urgent challenge.
If we have the resolve to shift our trajectory we must start now, by bringing forward our net zero target.
I’m afraid 2050 simply suggests we have room to delay. Using the frameworks of my sustainable markets initiative, and the imperative of the great reset, and knowing that we are all familiar with the problem we face, I would just like to outline if I may five overall action areas of this Marshall-like plan, for which coherence strategies should be assembled.
First of all by COP 26, and using a future of industry approach, it would make a very great difference if each of the main sectors of the economy whether energy transport financial services and so on where to outline publicly accessible roadmaps that identify the steps to net zero from 2020 to 2030, along with plans for the protection and restoration of natural capital and biodiversity.
We have an incredible opportunity to create entirely new sustainable industries, products services, and supply chains. Moving together with clear road maps, we can create efficiency and economies of scale that will allow us to leapfrog our collective progress and accelerate our transition in these efforts.
We can also make sustainable options the trusted and attainable options for consumers, after all market leading companies have demonstrated that it is entirely possible to be profitable and sustainable at the same time.
In fact businesses and investments that are ESG aligned are increasingly outperforming those that are not, even in the current economic crisis.
To put these roadmaps into practice in operational terms, we need our financial experts along with our chief financial officers to help design the business and investment case to match growing demand for sustainable goods and services.
Secondly having listened to the wise and experienced business leaders who are involved in my sustainable markets initiative, I would also encourage countries themselves to work towards COP 26 by outlining publicly available road maps to net zero, which set out priority industries for transition, along with the actions required to restore or enhance biodiversity and natural capital.
It is absolutely vital, given the enormity of the problem we face, that we make truly transformative progress along the road to net zero by 2030, taking the tough decisions now rather than deferring them to the next generation.
With the roughly two-thirds of the emissions taking place in cities, and with a near doubling of the world’s urban population projected in the next 50 years, it is clear that the spatial planning of cities to allow for sustainable growth is imperative.
My foundation has been working with commonwealth partners to develop a mayor’s rapid planning toolkit, focused on secondary cities where more than half of the urban growth is projected, and where far fewer planning professionals exist.
As we seek to rebalance the urban rural divide and the need to address rural to urban migration, the physical implementation of secondary city plans is one of the areas that can have the most positive impact in the coming decades.
Cities and local government leaders can and must lead the way, and I would encourage if I may city leaders to showcase their city plans and sustainable building solutions at COP26 in order to accelerate further progress.
Thirdly by COP26 we need a global investment strategy for restoring harmony with nature. This includes major investment in nature-based solutions in sectors like agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Indeed for all the resources that we take from the earth nature’s contribution to the global economy is estimated to be worth more than 125 trillion dollars annually. That’s greater than the entire world’s annual GDP.
If we build conservation and nature-based solutions into our asset base and supply chains, we will be able therefore to drive significant economic growth for countries and businesses alike, including in areas such as the circular bio-economy ecotourism and green public infrastructure.
In order to accelerate the restoration of biodiversity and nature’s ecosystems in the short time left to us, it will be essential to target coordinated and globally trusted carbon offsetting funds, from the entire private sector to the recovery of natural capital and the reduction of carbon emissions, simultaneously.
To buy us crucial time as we transition, carbon capture use and storage will be utterly vital if we are to draw down on the excess of carbon that needs to be removed from the atmosphere. To have the impact required we must also think at scale global mega projects such as 30 by 2030, the great green wall, Africa 100, the 2020 initiative and many others have the potential not only to improve natural capital but also to increase opportunities in the green economy, while improving sustainable livelihoods and local economic growth.
If ladies and gentlemen we valued our natural capital properly our national and individual balance sheets might look very different indeed.
So let us start to articulate fully and clearly nature’s value, and begin building our business and economic solutions around the wealth that nature affords us, particularly if I may say so through the establishment of a long overdue and effective market for ecosystem services. Only this way can we rebuild nature’s unique capacity to sustain us.
Fourthly ladies and gentlemen by COP26 my great hope is that we might also see global financial institutions and institutional investors outline publicly accessible road maps, that define the steps to take their portfolios to net zero between 2020 to 2030. After all, we know that it is not a lack of capital that is impeding our progress, but how we deploy it.
We we must also explore how to reverse perverse subsidies and improve incentives for sustainable alternatives. Reorientating economic subsidies, financial incentives and regulations can have a dramatic and transformative effect on our market systems. For instance for many years i’ve tried to encourage the adoption of the polluter pays principle in order to provide the necessary incentives.
Public policy therefore has a critical role to play, particularly if I may say so in the possibility of the development of an effective equitable form of carbon pricing, perhaps one based on a citizen dividend model which could unlock a huge flow of investment into zero carbon technologies currently seen as uneconomic.
The good news is that on every pressing issue we face, there are solutions that are not just available but increasingly cost effective. At the same time there are trillions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds, in pension funds insurance and asset portfolios looking for investable and sustainable projects with good long-term value and rates of return.
It is time to align sustainable solutions with funding in a way that can transform the marketplace. This requires not only showcasing high potential investments, but that we reimagine financial analysis structuring and models of return.
I must say that I’m greatly encouraged that members of my sustainable markets initiative are starting to lead the way perfectly. We are on the verge of catalytic breakthroughs that will alter our view of what is possible and profitable within the framework of a sustainable future.
By COP26 we need a comprehensive strategy for science, technology and innovation, with clear entry points for investment in support of industry, country and city road maps.
With the enormity of these opportunities our science-based and economic systems are vital to finding and scaling the solutions we so desperately need. We’ve seen in the last decade how quickly sustainable technologies can move if there is a strong market signal and a clear sense of direction. This is absolutely crucial if we are to accelerate the pace.
As we consider these five areas, the exponential win-win benefit only comes when we find points of common interest and seek to leapfrog our collective progress. When industries innovators and investors understand the longer term direction and priorities of countries, they are better able to mobilize in order to partner with each other to invest and grow the market.
Similarly a market signal in one industry can rapidly mobilize others to act. Knowing the direction of travel is half the battle which is why these road maps are so critical.
The more we know about our shared ambitions for the future, the more we can help each other to get to the destination.
Ladies and gentlemen, achieving a sustainable future is the growth story of our time, and can in fact fuel our post-pandemic recovery in a way that pays dividends for decades to come, but the window for action is rapidly closing.
A new marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet is urgently needed if we are to align our collective efforts for the highest possible impact, and to save our planet from continued destruction.
I trust you will all agree that our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
With the aim of capturing the will and imagination of humanity ,while seeking to accelerate the identification of solutions, I’m launching a visual platform for short films called re-tv. I hope this can be one way to demonstrate what is now possible in the pursuit of a sustainable future, through my sustainable markets initiative. In the great reset I remain committed to working with coalitions of the willing, to push these efforts forward.
Billions of people around the world are waiting and longing for concerted action to right the balance of this planet that we have so rashly disrupted. Millions of younger employees of countless companies and corporations are desperate for action, not more words. It is their lives we are gambling with, as well as the ultimate survival of everything that tries to share this ailing Earth with us, so let’s get on with the urgent task of forming a global alliance to overcome the perverse obstacles facing us.