‘In high-consuming countries such as the UK, the time has passed where we have the luxury of choosing between system change or lifestyle change – we now need both.’ – Lewis Akenji lead author of 1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards a Fair Consumption Space for All,
Prince Charles has a big problem. His forbears have accumulated and extracted wealth from the whole planet. And he has now inherited this accumulated, camel-sized carbon footprint which he has to somehow get through the eye of the carbon budget needle. He is still choosing to fly by private jet, helicopter, move about in oversized SUVs and owns massive homes, whilst in full knowledge of the climate emergency. Does he see himself as a leader or just a freerider?
His call for ‘system change’ won’t solve his particular accumulated stuff problem. A similar problem exists for all those who are part of the top 1% global wealthy. Calling for system change when you are the system merely detracts from the fact that the world’s richest 1% cause double CO2 emissions of poorest 50%.
Christ said to the rich man, “sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” and then “he (the rich man) went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
But my overriding compassion is for global citizens, who have done little to nothing to contribute to the climate crisis, and yet and even now, at 1.1 degrees celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, are being drowned, burnt alive, starved, gasping for clean water, unable to breathe, boiled alive, destroyed by hurricanes, extreme weather, from climate related disease,
It is absolutely imperative that we, who have contributed most to global warming (wealthy citizens in countries like UK, Canada, Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand etc) start reducing our carbon footprints towards the net carbon zero target of 0.7 tonnes per year as soon as possible.
Aiming for 0.7 tonnes, means you have done everything in your power to try and achieve this ambition. You have deeply engaged with your own carbon footprint and are heading in the right direction. Understanding more clearly what are the further levers of change required; you are able to communicate with other citizens with integrity and insight, from lived experience. Whether you have achieved this target or not is not the most important thing. The process is far more important
The Epic struggle
So many of our epic stories from the Hunger Games to the Pied Piper of Hamelin, have prepared us for this moment in the history of humanity.
“the Pied Piper led the children to the top of Koppelberg Hill, where he took them to a beautiful land, where he made them walk into the Weser as he did with the rats, and they all drowned”.
Are we going to allow our children to be led by the Pied Piper off the climate edge cliff and into the sea?
Wild card has offered Prince Charles a way of rewilding his current estate. Wildlife expert Chris Packham led more than 100 children to deliver a petition to Buckingham Palace, calling on the royal family to re-wild their estates. This would be an important step. Because wealth, at this moment in human history, comes with immense responsibilty. The Royal Family owns 1.4% of land in England alone.
The Hunger Games
“it isn’t helpful, I don’t think, to do it in a way that alienates people.” – says Prince Charles
Prince Charles apparently doesn’t like the Insulate Great Britain protests. The ones where ordinary people sit in the road to try and get their voices heard. Does Prince Charles think the Insulate Great Britain protest is just about the UK? And about being popular? Leading up to COP26 this is much more about the whole interconnected world. A world audience: Because if the UK, who is hosting #COP26Glasgow can’t be bothered to insulate its own citizens, what chance do other global citizens have? So just because the gas guzzlers in the UK don’t like it, don’t think the whole world hasn’t clocked what is really going on in the UK
It is ironic that the movie the Hunger Games, closely depicts any major city in the world, where the rich affluent control the games/government and the poor/hungry can only watch from the side lines. Or sit in the road to draw attention to their plight.
Are we keeping our side of the bargain? Are we mobilising at speed and scale to minimise our greenhouse emissions? By decarboinsing heating and transport and stopping flying? Are we calling for carbon rationing which give a fair share of the remaining carbon budget to all global citizens? Anyone can make a difference But Prince Charles can choose to stand with the people. As his grandfather did in WW2. Not elevate himself above them
Unfortunately Prince Charles had his own ‘let them eat cake’ moment recently saying his classic Aston Martin runs on wine and cheese. Any solution must be able to be scaled up Wine and cheese for your vintage car; how does that scale up? Biomass burning from trees felled on your vast estate; how does that scale up?
Solar on every viable rooftop, insulation, heat pumps, cycling, walking, public transport, trees, rewilding? These all can be scaled up This is what standing with the people means. This is what leadership means. Not elevating yourself above the people.
We are in an epic struggle (together) right now, to stop the most precious things; our children, our fellow creatures, our trees and natural world being sacrificed at the altar of overconsumption, power, status and greed. Where we choose to stand in this struggle will define us. We can’t avoid that.
If Prince Charles thinks he can’t make a difference, this observation may be useful;
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – Dalai Lama
What do I mean by carbon rationing?
It is strange what humans cling to. Even knowing they are making the problem much much worse. But here is the maths (based on the Paris Agreement)
3-2-1 tonnes per person by 2030-2040-2050. Globally, citizens and society need per-person consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions targets of 2.5 (tCO2e) in 2030, 1.4 by 2040, and 0.7 by 2050 in order to keep global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees.
But remember every person who lives beyond 0.7 tonnes carbon per year, is still adding to cumulative emissions (making it worse) So any person who really gets it, will be heading straight towards the 0.7 tonnes ASAP.
The changing role of the monarchy in a climate and ecological emergency
What is the changing role of the monarchy in a climate + ecological emergency?
- Not to display great wealth + be a draw for international tourism.
- To stand with the people as they make this enormous transition to a net carbon zero world. This is a cultural metamorphosis for the Royal Family too
I am not a ‘radical’ but I am highly ambitious. And why would I not be ambitious for our children’s future? For our children to actually have a future. If you are unambitious, maybe it is time to wonder why?
The emissions of the wealthiest 10 percent alone could send us beyond the agreed limit in the next nine years. This would have catastrophic results for some of the most vulnerable people on Earth who are already facing deadly storms, hunger and destitution – Nafkote Dabi, Climate Policy Lead at Oxfam