Friday, 1 May 2009

HRH Prince Charles at the Mayday Summit 2009

HRH Prince Charles' Mayday Network is in its third year, and this year's London event at Old Billingsgate Market saw a new format, in line with His Royal Highness' exortation to make climate change fresh and new so that we don't flag in our efforts to address it.

He acknowledged that the current economic situation makes life much harder for business leaders, whose plate must seem very full already without having to consider climate change as well. But the network's name was chosen with care - mayday (m'aider) being the most urgent international distress call. Despite the efforts of the network and others, this call has gone largely unanswered.

Expert opinion - including Lord Stern and the Pottsdam institute - concur that a 4 to 5 degree rise in global temperatures is now looking more likely unless urgent action is taken. This will mean war, famine, flood and hurricane plus the displacement of billions of people. Two months ago it was calculated that we had just 100 months to take the necessary action to prevent this outcome. The doomsday clock, symbolised by the network's dandelion logo, is ticking.

According to His Royal Highness, if we strain every sinew we could still arrest the worst effects of climate change. But only by acting across sectors and ever increasing numbers will we make it clear to the World leaders that urgent action must be taken at the Copenhagen sumnmit. It is crucial that they enter into the Copenhagen negotiations with the demands of business leaders ringing in their ears, because the effects of climate change are more wide ranging and long lasting than the current economic crisis.

More optimistically, Prince Charles acknowledged some of the successes of the May Day Network. For example, the launch of the May Day Journey, a website that provides a first port of call for any business, large or small, that wants to act on climate change. The initial step is to measure, report and work to reduce carbon emissions, and the creation of sector initiatives is accelerating this vital work. In addition, the Marketing Society Alliance is seeking to establish a common language for the communication of climate change issues.

Finally, His Royal Highness stated that collaboration and leadership are at the heart of the May Day Network, and it's vital that we grow the network, especially to include small businesses and non-profit organisations. He exorted us all to recruit 10 more members each, at least, encouraging others to sign up and get started on their own May Day journey. With a marketplace of over 50 businesses, round tables and even a theatrical production, the event provided plenty of inspiration to do just that.

No comments: