King of a dead planet

Photo: John Englart

David Attenborough has formed an alliance with the heir to the British throne, the Duke of Cambridge, to campaign for zero carbon by 2030, writes Alan Davies. Failure to reach zero carbon within ten years, as Attenborough and the Duke of Cambridge have rightly pointed out, could do irreparable damage to the ecosystems of the planet.  They have done this just as Sir Keir Starmer throws the environmental gains of Corbynism – zero carbon by 2030 in particular – in the bin and Boris Johnson promises net-zero carbon by 2050, by which time it will be too late. Maybe this pressure from a high profile member of the Windsor family can make him change his mind again.  

It is an issue that reflects the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming – published in October 2018 – which adopted the 1.5°C maximum temperature increase target, which, it said, could be reached as soon as 2030 giving us just 10 years. This goes to the heart of the debate in the environmental movement, and is a deadline the whole political class have been desperately trying to avoid ever since.

Windsor and Attenborough have launched a new, Nobel type, award called Earthshot – a global prize designed to generate proposals that can defend and regenerate the planet over the next ten years. It will make five £1m awards each year to support environmental solutions.

Its aims and objectives are to:

  • Protect and restore nature.
  • Clean our air.
  • Revive our oceans.
  • Build a waste-free world.
  • Fix our climate.

What will come out of it we will see, since it is vulnerable to crack-pot solutions rather than serious proposals. It is however, a sign of the times and a recognitions the scale and urgency of the problem. It is also a defence of the scientific evidence on which the future of the planet rests.

David Attenborough has not only radicalised sharply in recent years but has done more than anyone else, though his relentless campaigning and his stunning documentaries, to bring the scale and implications of ecological crisis into popular consciousness. It is true that the Duke has shown little interest in the ecological crisis in the past, and he is clearly not doing this to defend the legacy of Corbynism. He might, however, have taken a sobering look at objective reality, or had it pointed out to him by Attenborough. In any case there is not much fun in being king of a dead planet.

We should, therefore, welcome any discussion on the future of the planet that this initiative might generate. Meanwhile, we could offer some suggestions to be going on with:

  • Tax the polluters to fund the transition to renewables.
  • End industrialised agriculture and deforestation
  • Abolish the internal combustion engine.
  • Retrofit the house stock to zero carbon.
  • Protect jobs in the changeover.
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4 Comments on King of a dead planet

  1. Jonathan Pitts // 9th October 2020 at 6:01 pm // Reply

    Good proposals. This is the kind of radical (from the root) and ambitious thinking that we need from our global leadership. It then needs to be translated into programmes and actions.Sieze the time!

  2. Tim Gillibrand // 10th October 2020 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    Hi I’m disappointed that Socialist Resistance are so overwhelmed by the climate crisis that they feel it necessary to uncritically endorse the reactionary positions presented by the aristocracy and wannabe celebrity politicians. Even before getting in to any analysis and critique of what’s being proposed the fact that Attenborough is a patron and Windsor is fully signed up to the ideology of Population Matters would indicate that anything they have to say on social and environmental issues should be treated with the upmost scepticism.

  3. No reasonable reading of this short piece could lead to the conclusion that it’s an uncritical endorsement of what Attenborough and Windsor say. The main point it makes is that two high profile members of the British ruling class have taken an initiative which opens a space for discussion. Alan then goes on to make some proposals which go beyond anything that Windsor is likely to endorse. Tim’s engagement with the article shows that there is a discussion to be had.

    If members of the ruling class start talking about these issues it would be foolish of socialists not to engage with what they are saying, particularly when, as in Attenborough’s case, his thinking seems to have been affected by XR’s protests.

  4. lt is good Socialist Resistance welcome any discussion on the future of the planet that the earthshot competition might generate.I think socialist ecologists should enter the competition so that protection of the environment can viewed from a socialist perspective.My idea in relation to countering climate change would be to introduce a worldwide means tested green tax payable by countries in accordance to their wealth and the ability of their inhabitents to pay. Those not working or on benefits or both would not pay the tax.Many people may welcome the tax as their contribution could help save the planet and the rich would have their wealth used constructively.Regulators and observers should be employed to ensure that the green tax fund would be spent wisely and not corrupted. Taxation sinc e time of the Egyptians has been used to collect capital to fund projects and this would be the
    biggest project ever to save the planet.

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