By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
Hapless Prince Harry and his duchess have once again scored an environmental own goal, with the noted eco-warriors choosing to take a carbon-spewing private jet back to Los Angeles, after attending a September climate action event in New York City.
This is far from a unique event for them and in fact, they’ve flown private 21 times during the past two years, according to GEO TV, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle blasted for leaving NYC in a private jet.
Now, I admit I thought the decision of the former spare and his missus to decamp from Old Blighty to LA was a shrewd move. Rather than being distracted by their earnestly expressed good intentions, I thought instead of the grifting opportunities open to them in this hemisphere, where the couple currently has a pretty clear field. Back in the old country, the Queen has her throne and her castles. Prince Charles and Prince William, due to their position in the order of succession, are not going anywhere: they’re closely bound to staying put. (And Prince Andrew, a former frequent princely visitor to our shores, surely understands this isn’t a good time to see America.)
I’ll leave aside the snark for a moment. Harry and Meghan’s brand is to carve out a higher profile to engage with pressing issues of the day. Fair enough. Rather than reflexively scoff at their declared interest per se – as IIRC Bill did when Monica sought to share her thoughts on educational policy – let’s take them at their word.
The climate crisis tops the list of catastrophes civilisation faces. And it’s unfolding now, throughout the world, in the form of extreme storms and fierce wildfires, among other unprecedented events.
I think we should take support for addressing the problem wherever we find it.
So, they have my attention. And what have they done with it?
Squander it, by yet again, as reported in Prince Harry and Meghan Took a Private Jet From an Event About Climate Action – by Marie Claire publication not renowned for bashing Royals:
We’ve already discussed why Prince Harry should opt to start flying commercial rather than continuing to jet-set in private planes, but apparently it bears repeating. That’s because Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left their whirlwind NYC jaunt on a private plane, mere hours after they appeared onstage at the Global Citizen Live event, which promoted, in part, cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2030. Ugh.
Now, it’s not as if this is the first time the couple has been criticised for their obvious hypocrisy. The first time I remember an uproar over their carbon-spewing ways was when they attended the Goggle climate summit in 2019, flying there via private jet and kipping on a carbon-spewing super yacht, as reported by The Sun, YACHT WAS HE THINKING? Eco warrior Prince Harry ‘stayed on a gas guzzling super-yacht during Google’s environment summit where he railed against the evils of selfies’.
After the barrage of bad publicity, you would think that Meghan and Harry might have reconsidered their future travel choices – that is, if they wanted their concerns over climate change to be taken seriously.
No such luck. I wouldn’t be writing this if the couple had only availed themselves of private air travel to rush back to Old Blighty for the death or illness of a close family member.
But that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Last month, Harry was called out for taking a private’ jet back to LA in August after participating in a charity polo match in Colorado. On the plus side, polo ain’t NASCAR – I think it’s an environmentally-friendly sport. Polo ponies, not motorcars.
After that private jet escapade, criticisms seeped into the ‘quality’ press, including The Independent, PRINCE HARRY CRITICISED AFTER FLYING IN PRIVATE JET AFTER CHARITY POLO MATCH:
Harry, who is outspoken about the impact of the climate crisis and previously described it as one of the “most pressing issues we are facing”, was dubbed a “hypocrite” by royal commentators and members of the public on social media.
According to a report by Transport & Environment, a single private jet can emit as much as two tonnes of carbon dioxide in just one hour. Private jets are up to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, but are twice as likely to be used for short trips under 500km (approximately 310 miles).
In May, the duke warned that mental health and climate change were linked and told Oprah Winfrey: “I know lots of people out there are doing as best they can to try and fix these issues, but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off.
Okay, I get it.
Switch off the tap.
A simple solution.
So, what did the dynamic duo do the next time they flew cross-country? Surely by now, they knew what they should do, yes?
Alas, in for a penny, in for a pound. Perhaps they thought we wouldn’t notice.
Back to Marie Claire’s take on that recent cross-country flight, the one back to LA after the climate action event:
Look, rich people gonna rich. And given the threats and scrutiny Prince Harry and Meghan Markle come under, you can kind of understand why they want to make their whereabouts hard to track, especially while traveling. They’re also held to an enormously high standard, higher even than some of their other royal family counterparts…
But surely flying a private jet from New York City to Southern California—a single flight which, according to Blue Sky Model, emitted about 65 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere—isn’t the only way to protect themselves. The fact that Harry and Meghan insist on flying private feels worse because they want to be seen, first and foremost, as advocates for change. Their purported reason for moving to the U.S. and stepping away from their royal duties in the first place was to spend more time on the causes they care about—the Archewell website even has as its slogan, “Shared Purpose, Global Action.” And climate action is one of the topics that they’ve brought up again and again.
I do think it’s actually worse that Harry and Meghan seem to understand that climate change is a real threat rather than being completely clueless. Yet although they talk the talk, they’re not willing to walk the walk. Over to Marie Claire again:
That’s why, when they call for global change and then refuse to reflect those same changes in their own lives—probably the easiest place for them to create change, if you think about it!—it makes their message feel hollow and hypocritical. Like, you want us plebs to cut our emissions without applying it to yourselves? By virtue of Harry’s birth, they have one of the biggest platforms of any couple alive. That’s a huge amount of responsibility, and it’s great they want to use it to create a better world. But what good is calling for change when they undercut their message through their very actions?
So stop it with the private jets, Harry and Meghan. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.
Okay. So far, Harry and Meghan haven’t thought it necessary to alter their carbon-spewing behavior. I’d like to imagine it might be possible for them to start walking the walk, but perhaps that’s too much to expect from a man who’s spent a good part of his life within heartbeats of the throne.
What about other members of the private jet set? Are Harry and Meghan unique? Surely the number of people opting to fly private must be dropping, as it’s no longer possible to deny how rapidly climate change is occurring?
Actually, the opposite is happening, as this CNBC article. Private jet rage grows as a record number of fliers strain the system, causing plane shortages, which I linked to this morning discusses:
Private jet fliers are facing increasing delays, cancellations and lack of available flights as the industry struggles to serve a record number of new fliers, while facing supply chain troubles.
July was the busiest month ever for private jet flights, with more than 300,000 flights, according to Argus International. While business usually cools in the fall, September saw nearly 300,000 flights and Argus projects October’s pace will break the July record.
The flood of new private jet customers — driven by health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic and the rapid creation of wealth — is now taxing an industry geared for slower growth. A shortage of new and used planes, delays getting aircraft parts, crew and pilot shortages, catering snafus, and air traffic problems are combining to create a growing number of delays and cancellations, according to industry executives.
So, not only has the use of private jets not dropped – it’s surged. Look, I get it. The pandemic has made each of us alter our ‘normal’ behavior. I understand why people who don’t have to mix with hoi polloi don’t want to do so in the midst of the pandemic. But as Harry reminded us, the climate tub is over-flooding. It’s about to come crashing through the ceiling. Clearly, we must shut off the tap.
Note that the CNBC article describes how many of those availing themselves of private jet services, aren’t practicing any offsetting austerity. Private jets are just another arena in which the rich can exercise their privilege and behave badly. I’ll spare you further details as they’re too depressing but the article lays them out for those who are made of sterner stuff.
Unfortunately, per CNBC, with no end in sight:
The big question is whether the more than 10,000 customers who started flying private for the first time during the pandemic will stick around if the problems continue to mount. Gollan said that while customers may complain about service issues, none of the 300 it surveyed said they planned to go back to commercial airlines.
That’s more bad news for the planet. The only silver lining here is that the pandemic has caused regular jet travel to crater.