This month Prince Charles announced the launch of his Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, in which he encourages private companies around the world to support his aim of persuading companies to “put saving the planet at the heart of their business strategies”. In a speech, given remotely to the One Planet Summit in Paris, he urged business leaders from all over the world to support his Charter to “bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people and the planet over the coming decade”, adding that “sustainability should be a core value to give our children and grandchildren the future they deserve”. Already the Charter is backed by large corporations such as the Bank of America, Unilever, Astrazeneca and Coutts.
There are nearly 100 recommendations in the Terra Carta, including green energy, carbon capture, sustainability labelling and restoration of habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon and the South East Asian deltas.
Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016, caused by the water in the ocean being too hot; the coal industry is making global warming worse by mining and burning coal.
The Reef also suffers from pollution and destructive fishing practices using dynamite or cyanide.
The Amazon slows down global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide; 4281 square miles were destroyed from August 2019 to July 2020.
South East Asia is suffering hugely from the impact of climate change, caused both by greenhouse gases emitted by developing economies such as China and India, and also by its own reliance on coal and oil and extensive deforestation. Deforestation alone accounts for half of Indonesia’s emissions, whilst clearing forests and draining peat swamps releases thousand of tons of carbon dioxide, as does burning the dry peat.
Another huge problem is plastic pollution; it’s estimated that every day approx. 8 million pieces of plastic end up in our oceans, up to 5000 items of plastic have been found per mile of beach in the UK and over 150 plastic bottles litter every mile of the UK’s beaches. The impact of this on marine life and seabirds is devastating. These are just a few examples of the rate at which our planet is being destroyed.
Prince Charles gives a bleak picture of what will happen if companies don’t act now: “Time is fast running out and we are rapidly wiping out, through mass extinctions, many of nature’s unique treasure trove of species”… “Timelines for change must be brought forward if we are to make a transformative shift by the end of the decade, and before it is quite literally too late”.
Whilst the Charter is aimed at large corporations, as they can make the biggest change, we can all have an impact and do our bit. Replacing a plastic drinks cup with a reusable plant fibre one is a good place to start.