In Glasgow the green games are well underway, with a roll call of world leaders reading from the COPacabana hymn sheet to a genuflecting press corps. British premier Boris Johnson claims it’s ‘one minute to midnight,’ Prince Charles believes ‘time has literally run out’ while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres argues ‘we are digging our own graves.’ Cheery stuff.
And where there’s media, there’s celebrity too, with every camera-loving eco-warrior quick to jet in. Jeff Bezos eulogised about his, er, rocket trip to space with star turns also provided by yacht-loving Leonardo Di Caprio and the New York-residing SNP supporter Brian Cox. Angry adolescent Greta Thunberg meanwhile had to make do with an unwashed mob outside.
But of course, no orgy of celebrity self-love would be complete without the Sussexes crashing the party. Harry and Meghan have issued an edict from America, informing the world of just how they intend to save it. The exiled royals have pledged their charitable foundation/self-promotion vehicle Archewell will go net zero by 2030 by working with an independent consultant to track internet use, commutes, and electricity in home offices.
The California couple write they have ‘actively made choices to offset and balance their carbon footprint’ but note, sadly, that ‘nearly every activity in daily life results in the release of carbon into the atmosphere’. They added that they will be looking at ‘what they eat’ and ‘how often they eat it’ as well as their commute and use of heating and electricity in order to cut down their footprint.
Naturally, such a statement would not be complete without a Hollywood-sized humblebrag, with Archewell declaring that ‘our co-founders, Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have a long-standing commitment to the planet, both together and prior to their union, with global projects and partnerships dating back over a decade.’
No doubt laudable stuff but Mr S has to ask: just how much of a commitment is this pledge, given Archewell’s minimal output? The charity lists three wings on its website – Archewell Audio, Archewell Productions and the Archewell Foundation. The first of these was the new podcast production company, launched to much fanfare in December 2020. Not a single podcast has since been released by the couple, despite their professed ‘love’ of the medium for connecting ‘one another without distraction.’
Archewell Productions meanwhile lists just two projects: one a ‘docu-series’ on the (twice-delayed) Invictus Games that won’t be released until next year and the other an animated series that centres on the heroic adventures of a 12-year-old girl who is ‘inspired by influential women from history.’ With the working title ‘Pearl’, Archewell’s commitment appears to extend to Meghan serving as one of five executive producers among others such as Elton John’s husband David Furnish.
The final prong of this philanthropic trident is the Archewell Foundation which lists five ‘projects and partnerships’ – including one with Jose Andrés, the chef best known for his spat with Donald Trump and who wrote the couple a hagiographic tribute in this year’s Time list of the world’s most influential people. Most of the projects appear to focus on Harry’s work on tackling disinformation – a subject he’d know all about – while the accompanying ‘news’ section lists 40 press releases in 21 months on a scattergun of topics ranging from Black History Month to Harry’s Oprah Winfrey documentary.
Moreover, the couple’s words ring somewhat hollow when one compares rhetoric to reality. Just last month the couple appeared onstage at the Global Citizen Live event, which promoted, in part, cutting American emissions in half by 2030. Hours later they jetted out of New York on a private plane to Southern California, a flight which should have emitted about 65 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
It came just weeks after the good Duke of Sussex took two private jets in a row to attend a polo match – how very sporting. Still, it can’t beat the time he was reported to have stayed at the Google climate summit in 2019 on a a gas-guzzling ‘superyacht’, of the kind that emits 7,020 tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 19 tons per day.
And then there’s Harry’s decision to publicly and financially back an ‘ethical’ Wall Street fund that invests in oil and gas. The £1 billion fintech firm Ethic was described by Meghan as a place where her husband’s values ‘aligned’ but last month was revealed to be investing in the Baker Hughes Company, which provides the oil and gas industry with products and services for oil drilling.
Hardly very net zero of him. Let’s hope by 2030 the couple have managed to align their values with their own actions.
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