Mayday Mayday Mayday! Low carbon business summitMay 2, 2007 at 2:53 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, HRH the Prince of Wales, Low carbon economy, May Day, Prince Charles, Speech | 1 Comment
HRH the Prince of Wales is a fantastic climate change ambassador. He is in tune with most of the British public on this issue, I think, as are prominent businesses like Marks & Spencer and Alliance Boots. In fact, American friends who visit are often surprised how far ahead British high street stores are when it comes to climate change action—way beyond general awareness.
Last year I was fortunate to be allowed on a school day behind the scenes on the Royal Estate here in Windsor, and was impressed with the focus on conservation going on every day there. From caring for native creatures and ancient growth forests, with environmentally sensitive bee-keeping, pest hunting and logging practices, for example, to the care and attention the staff expressed and demonstrated to elementary school children throughout, it was a day I will never forget. Delicious organic ice cream from the Royal Farm Shop on the estate was supplied to all at the end of a hot but fascinating day.
The Royal Farm Shop sells eggs that are laid a short distance away, and friends are always surprised that the shop goods are no more expensive than regular stores. Though they do sell luxury delicacies if you are looking for a special gift from Windsor this is a great place for a coffee and browse off the beaten track.
After noting the CFL bulbs in every single lamp I’ve examined on the Royal Estate and inside Windsor Castle Now, I find with interest this report on Prince Charles’ May Day 2007 speech—which I like to consider a Mayday distress signal, or request for help “M’aidez!”—addressed to business leaders:
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Last Updated: 1:51am BST 02/05/2007
The Prince of Wales yesterday urged business leaders to think of the Second World War when they came to tackle climate change.
“Things that seemed impossible were achieved almost overnight,” he told an audience of more than 1,000 business leaders at a May Day business summit on developing a low carbon economy.
He said: “The reason we are all here is because if the scientific consensus is right, we need to act very rapidly indeed.”
Unless people in the developed world reduced their carbon footprint urgently, there was no reason why others should do anything, he told business leaders including Stuart Rose chief executive of Marks and Spencer, and Richard Baker, chief executives of Alliance Boots. Participants at the event, sponsored by six leading companies and the Carbon Trust, were invited to pledge how much carbon they would save.
Marks and Spencer promised to become “carbon neutral” within five years by reducing its electricity use by 25 per cent, buying green energy for its stores and by 20 per cent “carbon offsetting.”
Alliance Boots committed to a 30 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.
Prince Charles argued that “business as usual” would no longer be possible in a changing climate.
“Climate change is not just about whether we have longer, drier summers in this country. It is about vast movement of people escaping either flooding or droughts; it is about uncertain production of food and lack of water and it is about increasing social instability. All these things will have a huge effect on the world economy and so they will affect each and every one of us,” he said.
“I would just like each of us to spend a little time thinking about the costs of not getting this right.
“I do not want my children and grandchildren, or anyone for that matter, saying to me ‘Why didn’t you do something when it was possible to make a difference and when you knew what was happening’.”
Prince Charles said that we no longer argued about the importance of making investments in health, education or the social safety net though to do so would always be argued about.
In the 21st century it was necessary to learn to invest in maintaining the environmental conditions for continued economic development and that had to start with climate change.
A roomful of senior business people in St James’s Palace – the proceedings were broadcast to nine other locations around the country – were asked to vote electronically on 10 propositions.
Some 61 per cent disagreed with the proposition that the risks of climate change had been overstated and 57 per cent agreed strongly with the proposition “I feel a growing responsibility to change the way I live to reduce the impact of climate change”.
Fewer than 30 per cent thought that the Government had much influence on limiting climate change.
Fifty-eight per cent thought business could have a real influence in bringing down fossil fuel emissions.