Perhaps irrelevant to some—coming from a man who owes both his wealth and prestige to the antiquated (though persistent) privilege of being born into a royal family—Prince Charles of England again waded into quasi-radical polemics on Wednesday as he told a crowd of financiers and global elites that the "current form of capitalism" must come to an end if humanity wants to save itself from the perils of global warming and climate change.
In a speech to a "stratospheric group of financial, economic and business experts” at the Inclusive Capitalism Conference in London on Tuesday—and an audience that included IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and former U.S. President Bill Clinton—The Prince of Wales pushed for those gathered to accept the need for what he called the "fundamental transformation of global capitalism."
"We can choose to act now before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable and resilient society," he said. "There will, of course, be hard choices to make, and, take it from me, in the short term, you will not be popular with your peers, but if you stand firm and take the kind of action that is needed, I have every confidence the rewards will be immense."
The German newspaper Deusche Welle asked if the idea of "inclusive capitalism" was the "new big thing?" — reporting that
[it] was claimed that institutional investors and business leaders assembled at the meeting represented companies that together control about 30 percent of the world's total stock of financial wealth under professional management. [Event organizer] Lady de Rothschild suggested that the amount of influence in the room was sufficient to change the capitalist game, if those assembled could come together behind a common approach - but cautioned that developing a more inclusive capitalism would be a journey that takes time.
The tone of ICI seems rather noblesse-oblige. Time will tell whether the "Inclusive Capitalism Initiative" bears any fruits other than more of the sort of conferences at which extremely wealthy people arrive at in private jets to spend a pleasant few hours together and reassure each other that they're doing their best for society.
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On Charle's speech, the Sydney Morning Herald adds:
[Prince Charles] highlighted the growing plight of the world's most vulnerable people and the unprecedented environmental change that he said was undoubtedly compounded by man-made global warming and the great strain put on nature's life-support systems.
"These changes threaten to undermine all of the progress we have achieved, unless we can create a much more sustainable and inclusive approach," he said.
"If there is a price to pay for achieving the necessary transformation, it will be our abandoning of the next, seemingly easy, short-term solution that our current form of capitalism thinks is necessary and, instead, focusing on approaches that achieve lasting and meaningful returns."
On Twitter, though many found the irony simply too much, reactions to Charles' remarks were sparking dialogue about the nature of capitalism in the context of climate change: