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4 Jun, 2020 15:51

Prince Charles sees ‘golden opportunity’ in Covid-19 pandemic as UK economy faces biggest recession in centuries

Prince Charles sees ‘golden opportunity’ in Covid-19 pandemic as UK economy faces biggest recession in centuries

The UK’s Prince Charles has said that the coronavirus crisis represents a global “reset moment” – one which seemingly allows leaders to ram through sustainability initiatives as cash-strapped citizens have no choice but to obey.

The virus’ “unprecedented shockwaves may well make people more receptive to big visions of change,” the heir to the British throne declared on Wednesday. He made the comments during a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum’s Covid Action Platform, announcing the unveiling of his ‘Great Reset’ initiative. Charles cited the dramatic changes wrought by the pandemic as proof that a revolutionary shift was possible, glossing over the destruction the outbreak has wrought on the lives of average Brits to outline his ideal green future.

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The project’s aim is to ensure businesses “build back better” in an environmentally-friendly fashion after shutdowns enacted in response to the epidemic left the UK economy in ruins. Businesses would be wise to “think big and act now,” the prince advised, noting “we have a unique, but rapidly shrinking, window of opportunity to learn lessons and reset ourselves on a more sustainable path.

It is an opportunity we have never had before and may never have again.

While details of the royal’s big plan were somewhat elusive, buried under an avalanche of buzzwords, it involves a series of industry- and issue-specific roundtables, a social media networking component and “virtual hubs” aimed at attracting young people and “fostering innovation” through “thought leadership and practical solutions.” He called for a “paradigm shift” that “inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace,” taking inspiration from the rapid transformation of industries such as mobile technology and space exploration to interweave sustainability into the financial system.

It’s not like the UK is in a position to say no, he hinted, threatening naysayers with several flavors of climate-induced doom. “We have no alternative because otherwise, unless we take the action necessary, and we build again in a greener and more sustainable and more inclusive way, then we will end up having more and more pandemics and more and more disasters from ever-accelerating global warming and climate change,” the prince proclaimed.

While Prince Charles stressed in a promotional video accompanying the big reveal that “global warming, climate change, and the devastating loss of biodiversity” are the chief threats facing humanity, the majority of Britons are likely to be more concerned with the devastating recession threatening to engulf the nation completely. The Bank of England warned last month that the UK economy could shrink by 30 percent by the end of the summer. The central bank’s dire predictions – its first official forecast since the pandemic took hold – warned that GDP could decline by 14 percent for 2020, the sharpest single-year drop in over three centuries. And while the Bank of England claimed UK families entered the crisis “in a stronger position than they were before the 2008 financial crisis,” the Office of National Statistics revealed in April that the economy was already headed south even before the lockdown was imposed in March.

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By the start of May, one-fifth of British retailers had permanently closed their doors, according to the British Chamber of Commerce. It also warned that while a third of the country’s economy was “shut down,” another third was only functioning “with some difficulty.” Some two-thirds of UK businesses have sought government assistance to pay furloughed staff, but help has been slow in coming. Still, the UK is behind only Singapore and Japan in terms of the amount of money it has pledged toward helping businesses recover from the crisis, earmarking the equivalent of 8.5 percent of its GDP – about £120 billion – for emergency loans, financing, and grants. This places the needy wholly at the mercy of the government – which, if Prince Charles has anything to say about it, will wrest serious sustainability concessions out of them before they’re allowed to go forward.

The UK has suffered greatly under the pandemic, recording the second-highest number of coronavirus deaths worldwide – over 39,000 as of Thursday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Public trust in the country’s response to the virus has also been shaken dramatically, with just 51 percent of respondents to a survey conducted last month reporting they approved of London’s handling of the epidemic – an 18-point drop over the previous month. Imperial College professor Neil Ferguson, the disgraced architect of the UK lockdown policy, probably didn’t help matters earlier this week when he quietly admitted his draconian stay-at-home restrictions were no better than Sweden’s no-lockdown response in terms of saving lives.

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