It’s been 805 years since King John first agreed to the Magna Carta, a royal charter that protected certain rights in England. While it ceases to serve much practical purpose today — its modern relevance has been wildly misunderstood — it’s a document of immense historical significance. It was arguably the founding moment where the UK inched towards democracy.
But while the British monarchy found the Magna Carta a bitter pill to swallow — all those pesky limitations on far-reaching powers! — that same ancient institution is now attempting to draw on its success to take on the planet’s biggest threat: the climate crisis.
It’s called the Terra Carta, or Earth Charter, a plan that will commit businesses to a decade of environmentalism.
Prince Charles launched the charter on Monday at the One Planet Summit in Paris, as he personally marked 50 years campaigning on the climate crisis.
The heir to Queen Elizabeth II’s throne is urging private industry to sign up to the plan that he hopes will "reunite people and planet” with nearly 100 actions to become sustainable by 2030.
Those actions include financial commitments to a future with low emissions and backing major international climate agreements.
The Terra Carta aims to raise $10bn (£7bn) in green investment before 2022 through the Natural Capital Investment Alliance. It’s being backed by huge international corporations including HSBC, Bank of America, and BlackRock — companies historically linked to the fossil fuel industry, according to the Guardian.
“Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavour, and to give their support to this ‘Terra Carta’ – to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people, and planet over the coming decade,” Charles said.
Today The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative (@TheSMI) announces the Terra Carta – an ‘Earth Charter’ that puts sustainability at the heart of the private sector.— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) January 11, 2021
The Prince will speak about the Terra Carta at the @OnePlanetSummit later today. pic.twitter.com/sPjFGrnAPn
“I can only encourage, in particular, those in industry and finance to provide practical leadership to this common project, as only they are able to mobilise the innovation, scale, and resources that are required to transform our global economy,” he added.