Prince Charles urges countries to incorporate nature into new economic growth model
Prince Charles yesterday lent his voice to growing calls for a more effective means of measuring economic growth, warning the world must shift from a model of rampant consumerism to one more in tune with the opportunities presented by a healthy environment.
In a speech to the Low Carbon Prosperity Summit at the European Parliament in Brussels, the Prince warned that a “business as usual” response to rising demand and competition for energy, land and other resources was no longer an option for the global economy.
“I cannot see how we can possibly maintain the growth of Growth Domestic Product (GDP) in the long-term if we continue to consume our planet as voraciously as we are doing,” he said. “We have to move away from our conventional economic model of growth, based, as it is, on the production and consumption of high carbon intensity goods.
“We have to see that there is a direct relationship between the resilience of nature’s ecosystems and the resilience of our national economies. If nature’s capital loses its innate resilience – then how long does it take for our economic capital and economic systems to lose their resilience too?”
The Prince praised schemes like the UN’s The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report, which attempt to put a financial value on ecosystems, arguing that new models could offer “a different approach to profit and loss” that holds the key to developing a more sustainable global economy.
“It would be an economy that would, on the one hand, put much more emphasis on planning sustainable urban developments and helping businesses to maintain biodiversity and safeguard ecosystems, while, on the other, placing less reliance on those government subsidies and mechanisms which, perversely, can end up eroding the vital, natural components that provide us with our essential capital resources,” he added.
Prince Charles, who has often used his position to promote environmental issues, also criticised the “corrosive effect” of climate sceptics, arguing that they were being “reckless” in their promotion of discredited theories.
“I would ask how these people are going to face their grandchildren and admit to them that they actually failed their future; that they ignored all the clear warning signs by passing them off as merely part of a “cyclical process” that had happened many times before and was beyond our control,” he said.
“I wonder, will such people be held accountable at the end of the day for the absolute refusal to countenance a precautionary approach, for this plays I would suggest a most reckless game of roulette with the future inheritance of those who come after us?”
The speech was welcomed by Friends of the Earth policy and campaigns director, Craig Bennett, who praised the Prince’s calls for a new approach to measuring economic progress.
“Alice in Wonderland economics must end – we need a new approach which has the well-being of people and our planet at its very heart,” he said. “We have the know-how to build a safe, prosperous and sustainable society – and with bold political leadership it can become a reality.”
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