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.