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Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has been criticized for his use of private planes over the summer. The criticism came after he and his wife used private planes four times in 11 days. Prince Harry is an avid supporter of efforts to combat global warming and as such, his use of private planes this summer caused widespread disapproval. The Duke defended his use of the planes at the launch of a recent eco-tourism event. He said, “I came here by commercial. I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial.” He continued, “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.”

Prince Harry also said that he donates money to offset the carbon footprint of flying private. Although, this situation has drawn wider criticism of wealthy people who speak about needing to save the environment actively harming it through the use of private jets and other methods. Carbon offsetting is often cited as being the justification for wealthy people to fly private, however, the benefits of carbon offsetting are dubious. Carbon offsetting has been described as a way for rich people to avoid feeling guilty about the damage they are doing to the planet. The UN Environment Programme even voiced their concern about the use of carbon offsetting. The UNEP wrote a report in June 2019 entitled, “Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail-free card” which cautioned against relying on carbon offsets and warned that much more needs to be done to stop global warming.

The use of private planes by celebrities and wealthy people has been under more scrutiny since 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg travelled by boat from Europe to the US this summer. Thunberg was invited to climate conferences in New York and Chile but could not go as she refuses to travel by plane due to the impact it has on the environment. She was able to travel to the conferences when the owners of the racing boat, Malizia II, offered to take her to the US by sea. The Malizia II is a carbon-neutral racing boat which utilises renewable energy as its power source.

There have been comparisons between the private plane controversies and Greta Thunberg’s commitment to helping the environment. Questions have been raised over the dedication that other wealthy and powerful people have to actually saving the environment.

Difficult words

Avid (adj): Having an enthusiastic interest in something.

Ensure (v): To make certain.

Offset (v): To balance.

Justification (n): The action of showing something is right.

Dubious (adj): Something that cannot be trusted.

Scrutiny (n): Criticism or inspection.

Neutral (adj): To be impartial or unbiased, not choose a side.

Renewable (adj): Able to be renewed or used again.

Dedication (n): Being committed to something.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Avid A. Balance
2. Ensure B. Used again.
3. Offset C. Impartial
4. Justification D. Make sure.
5. Dubious E. Inspect
6. Scrutiny F. Uncertain
7. Neutral G. Commitment
8. Renewable H. Eager
9. Dedication I. Reason

True or False?

1. Prince Harry is being commended for his use of commercial planes. T / F

2. Prince Harry is a massive supporter of fighting global warming. T / F

3. The Prince said he uses commercial planes 50% of the time. T / F

4. The Duke said he uses private planes for security reasons. T / F

5. Prince Harry has never offset the carbon footprint caused by his use of private planes. T / F

6. Other wealthy people have not been under scrutiny even though Prince Harry has been. T / F

7. Carbon offsetting is frowned upon by the UN. T / F

8. A young girl travelled by boat from Europe to Asia. T / F

9. Greta Thunberg refuses to travel by train. T / F

10. People have been questioning wealthy peoples’ commitment to saving the Earth. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. he / The criticism / and / private planes / wife / used / came / after / his

2. the / defended / planes / Duke / of / use / his / The

3. a / June / The / 2019 / UNEP / report / in / wrote

4. conferences / New York / and / invited / Thunberg / to / Chile / was / in / climate

5. was / to / travel / to / She / able / conferences / the

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

Private Raised Carbon
Disapproval Comparisons Commercial
Refuses Boat Damage

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has been criticized for his use of (1)__________ planes over the summer. The criticism came after he and his wife used private planes four times in 11 days. Prince Harry is an avid supporter of efforts to combat global warming and as such, his use of private planes this summer caused widespread (2)_______________. The Duke defended his use of the planes at the launch of a recent eco-tourism event. He said, “I came here by (3)_____________. I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial.” He continued, “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.”

Prince Harry also said that he donates money to offset the carbon footprint of flying private. Although, this situation has drawn wider criticism of wealthy people who speak about needing to save the environment actively harming it through the use of private jets and other methods. Carbon offsetting is often cited as being the justification for wealthy people to fly private, however, the benefits of (4)___________ offsetting are dubious. Carbon offsetting has been described as a way for rich people to avoid feeling guilty about the (5)____________ they are doing to the planet. The UN Environment programme even voiced their concern about the use of carbon offsetting. The UNEP wrote a report in June 2019 entitled, “Carbon offsets are not our get-out-of-jail-free card” which cautioned against relying on carbon offsets and warned that much more needs to be done to stop global warming.

The use of private planes by celebrities and wealthy people has been under more scrutiny since 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg travelled by (6)________ from Europe to the US this summer. Thunberg was invited to climate conferences in New York and Chile but could not go as she (7)___________ to travel by plane due to the impact it has on the environment. She was able to travel to the conferences when the owners of the racing boat, Malizia II, offered to take her to the US by sea. The Malizia II is a carbon-neutral racing boat which utilises renewable energy as its power source.

There have been (8)_______________ between the private plane controversies and Greta Thunberg’s commitment to helping the environment. Questions have been (9)__________ over the dedication that other wealthy and powerful people have to actually saving the environment.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Have you ever flown by private plane?
5. Do you think famous people should prioritise safety or global warming?
6. What do you think about the Prince’s reasoning?
7. What is your opinion of carbon offsetting?
8. Does it matter if prominent people are hypocritical?
9. Do you do anything to help the environment?
10. What can be done to solve the global warming crisis?
11. What do you think about Greta Thunberg going to America by boat?
12. How can we do more to help the environment individually?
13. Is it right to expect famous or wealthy people to not use private planes?
14. How can we stop rich people from doing things that are damaging to the environment?
15. What do you think about people who promote being good to the environment and then use private planes?
16. Is it okay for famous people to use private planes to warn people about global warming because they can reach more people?
17. What would you do if you were in Prince Harry’s position?
18. Do we need more climate activists like Greta Thunberg?
19. Are celebrities in your country criticised for not being eco-friendly?
20. Do you think about your carbon footprint when you fly?