The Elite Privilege of Climate Doomsayers: Prince Harry And His Fellow-Travelers

Written by Vijay Jayaraj on September 13, 2019

We all like vacations, especially when they’re well-deserved, after long, hard work. But the self-proclaimed climate custodians don’t want you or me to take long-distance flights lest we worsen climate change.

For those of us who are not sure how air travel will impact the state of climate, the proposal to abandon flights appears a morally appropriate choice.

But why is such a proposal applicable only to commoners like us, and not to the elites?

The major problem with the proposal to reduce air travel is that it comes from leaders and celebrities who themselves travel by air extensively, often in private jets, or on gas-guzzling yachts.

Last week, Prince Harry made the headlines for his advocacy of sustainable travel initiatives during the launch of an eco-tourism project in Amsterdam. But a few news media took him to task for his frequent use of private jets.

This summer, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan used private jets four times in 11 days. When questioned, Harry responded “Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe—it’s generally as simple as that.”

Though one can’t help wondering at the prince’s choice to ensure his family’s safety at the expense of the safety of billions of families around the world ostensibly threatened by the global warming his travel worsens, I support his personal choice of using a private jet. What I don’t support is his hypocrisy.

Harry projects himself as a climate-change activist and recommends a lifestyle of reduced emissions—for everyone else. But if he had stayed true to what he preaches, he would not have used a private jet to Ibiza to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

Neither would have he used a private jet for their visit to Nice, France, which could have been done on one of the 20 different scheduled commercial flights available on that day, helping him avoid around 7 times more emissions per person.

But the “I can use but you cannot” entitlement thinking is not exclusive to prince Harry and Meghan.

Last month, Prince Harry, prominent celebrities like Leonardo Di Caprio, Barack Obama, Katy Perry, Bradley Cooper, Mark Zuckerberg, and others attended a 20-million-dollar private Google climate event on an Italian Island. Most of these “climate leaders” travelled by private jets, expensive yachts, and helicopters.

The event was sheer hypocrisy. These are the very same people who exhort us to take bikes to our work, perform business meetings via Skype, and reduce air travel. But they use high-emission modes of luxury transport. They could easily have avoided using 114 private jets for the single event if they really had believed in what they preach.

Here is what they really believe: They believe in the use of private jets over commercial airliners, but only for the elites—a circle of people in Hollywood, the political arena, and Silicon Valley.

Every year, the United Nations’ climate conferences attracts a large number of private jets. Yet, the UN and its climate doomsday attendees believe that everyone else should live an emission-free lifestyle.

Greta, currently in the United States, will go on to attend the annual UN climate conference in Chile, where she will be joined by delegates from around the world, mostly travelling by emission-intensive commercial planes, plus hundreds of private jets.

The yacht ride that Greta had across the Atlantic was doomsayers’ desperate attempt to promote “climate action.” The entire operation was a public relations disaster, as Greta’s low-emission travel was cancelled out by the need for the crew who are to bring the yacht back to Europe to travel by air.

The problem with Prince Harry, the UN, and company is not that they use private jets, but their hypocrisy. Even worse, they stand by their choices and refuse to admit their hypocrisy.

The modern climate doomsday movement and its doomsayers have an elite privilege mentality. They want us to think twice before booking a flight but have private jet trips readily scheduled in their itineraries for themselves in the months ahead.

Don’t let the elites and celebrities ruin your holiday plans. Explore the world. No climate doomsday looms.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), a Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.