For more than four decades The Prince of Wales has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future.
In the context of global challenges that include climate change, deforestation, and ocean pollution, The Prince has promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend – among other things soil, water, forests, a stable climate and fish stocks. – endure for future generations.
For His Royal Highness believes that economic and social development will best succeed when it works in harmony with Nature, rather than in conflict with Nature.
Over the years The Prince of Wales has launched many different sustainability initiatives aimed at delivering practical outcomes. They range from The Prince’s Rainforest Project, Accounting for Sustainability and the International Sustainability Unit, to more grassroots initiatives run by Business in the Community such as Project Start and the Mayday Network of UK businesses. As well as addressing environmental challenges, The Prince promotes a more sustainable approach to planning and designing homes and communities in ways that enhance and add to the social, natural and built environment.
His Royal Highness’s sustainability work is based on the principle that environmental challenges in our increasingly interconnected world are best met by adopting integrated and holistic approaches to sustainability.
For example, The Prince’s Rainforests Project set out to find solutions to deforestation that would be economically viable, bring rural development and social benefits for people living in and around forests, while also protecting the vital ecosystems that harbour so many of the world’s wildlife species, store carbon and sustain water cycles.
The Prince of Wales delivers the keynote speech during a WWF event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Forest & Trade Network at St. James Palace, London.
The Prince of Wales walks through the rainforest during a visit to Maguari Village at Santaram, central Brazil
The Prince of Wales welcomes young green ambassadors to Highgrove and has a rare rainforest frog named after him
The Prince of Wales meets staff at Gill's Plaice sustainable fish shop during a visit to Aberdyfi, Gwynedd as part of his annual Summer visit to Wales.
Assistant farm manager Sean Bailey (left) shows a piglet to The Prince during a visit to Bunkers Hill organic pig farm, King's Lynn, Norfolk, 2011
The Prince of Wales (left) and George Clarke leave the sustainably constructed Prince's House as The Prince officially opens the 2012 Ideal Home Show, Earl's Court, London
The Prince uses his position to help raise public awareness about sustainability challenges and solutions through his speeches, articles, books and films. He is also Patron of a wide range of organizations working for sustainability, offering support and encouragement for their work.
The Prince of Wales convenes many different groups, from business leaders to Heads of State and from local community initiatives to scientific bodies, in order to find the best ways of making progress in meeting complex challenges.
Video: A film about The Prince and Global Sustainability
The Prince of Wales welcomes young WWF green ambassadors to his Highgrove home
The Prince of Wales gives a keynote speech on sustainable fishing
A video message for the World Oceans Summit in Singapore
The Prince of Wales gives a keynote environmental speech at Cape Town University
The Prince of Wales launches his rebranded charity, The Prince's Foundation for Building Community
The Prince of Wales has been an environmental leader for over 40 years.
In November 2012, The Prince was recognised as the acclaimed Lifetime Achievement Winner at the 7th International Green Awards. The International Green Awards' Lifetime Achievement Award is a prestigious accolade, bestowed to individuals who have been committed to the sustainability cause and inspired others to positive action.
As well as promoting sustainability through his work, His Royal Highness has taken many steps personally to live in a more sustainable way. Around half of his office and domestic energy use comes from renewable sources such as woodchip boilers, air-source heat pumps, solar panels and “green” electricity.
The Household strives to minimise its environmental impact across its activities, including travel, energy use and the indirect impact of the products and services it uses. The Annual Review provides further information on some of this work.
Carbon emissions and renewable energy
Between 2007 and 2012 the Household reduced carbon dioxide emissions from sources under its control by 41 per cent.
In 2011-12 almost a half of energy use for office and domestic use (mainly heating, lighting and office equipment) derived from renewable sources including wood chips, ground- and air- source heat pumps, solar thermal panels, solar photovoltaic panels and purchased electricity from renewable sources.
Some of the measures taken to reduce carbon emissions include:
- The Prince of Wales has installed solar photovoltaic panels at Clarence House and Highgrove to generate renewable electricity
- Biomass boilers have been installed in Highgrove, Birkhall (Their Royal Highnesses’ home in Scotland) and Llwynywermod which replace fossil fuels with sustainably-managed wood;
- Ground-source and air-source heat pumps have been installed on the Highgrove Estate. These take heat from the ground and air and can provide around four units of heat energy for every unit of electricity used;
- Electricity use is closely monitored, including the use of smart meters.
- Energy-efficient boilers at Clarence House reduce gas consumption;
- Electricity is purchased from renewable sources where possible;
- Energy-efficient light bulbs have been installed that use about a fifth of the electricity of incandescent bulbs;
- Staff ensure that lights, computers and other equipment are switched off when not in use.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the first and most important stage in minimizing the Household’s carbon footprint. Emissions from official travel by air are offset under the Government Carbon Offsetting Facility, along with government air travel. The Household contribute towards sustainable forestry projects in the UK and overseas to help balance out the remainder of its carbon emissions.
- A grey-water system at Birkhall cuts water use by collecting rainwater and reusing water from bathrooms;
- Rainwater is used to flush the toilets in the Orchard Room at Highgrove;
- Reed-bed systems at Highgrove and Llwynywermod provide a natural way to treat waste-water.
- Waste going to landfill is reduced by collecting a variety of materials for recycling;
- Food waste is composted where possible or collected to be turned into fertiliser;
- Paper is saved by printing double-sided, re-using paper or using electronic communications where possible. About 99% of paper is made with recycled materials. Looking at stationery more widely, more environmentally-friendly products such as water-based ink highlighter pens made using recycled paper are used where available.
Travel, around the UK and throughout the world, forms an essential part of Their Royal Highnesses’ work and its environmental impact is a significant factor in organizing travel arrangements.
Some of the initiatives taken in this area include:
- Organising travel so as to reduce carbon emissions, taking into account security, logistics, cost and other considerations;
- The Royal Train, which The Prince and The Duchess use for travelling between engagements in the United Kingdom, runs on used cooking oil;
- The Prince’s Aston Martin runs on bio-ethanol made from wine wastage and a cheese by-product;
- Using an ‘green’ taxi company in London.
Organic farming and gardening
In 1986, His Royal Highness decided to convert his own farm in Gloucestershire, Home Farm, to a completely organic system. Over twenty-five years later, Home Farm is not only a successful and viable working farm, but is a flagship for the benefits of a sustainable form of agriculture. The Prince is well-known for his belief in the clear advantages of organic farming and gardening and puts this belief into practice at the Duchy Home Farm and in his gardens at Highgrove, Clarence House and Birkhall.
- No artificial pesticides are used – this reduces the amount of potentially harmful chemicals that can get into the air, groundwater or food;
- No artificial fertilizers are used – these consume significant quantities of energy and water in their production and are responsible for large amounts of greenhouse gases;
- A popular vegetable box scheme at Highgrove supplies locally-sourced and fresh organic produce to people in the area;
- The Prince has planted 26 kilometres of hedges and thousands of trees at Home Farm to provide a valuable habitat for plants and wildlife;
- Vegetables are grown in the garden at Clarence House to help reduce food miles to food metres.
Looking beyond its direct impact, the Household also considers environmental and social issues in its procurement and works with suppliers on their own performance. Royal Warrant Holders, for example, are expected to demonstrate that they understand the environmental and social impacts of their business and that they have a policy and measures in place to address these. Support and advice is provided by Business in the Community, one of The Prince’s Charities.
Biomass Boiler at Highgrove
In December 2012, two new wood fuel boilers were installed on The Prince’s Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire. These use wood pellets, wood chips or miscanthus and provide heating and hot water for Highgrove House, the Estate offices and The Orchard Room.
The boilers will reduce the Household’s use of fossil fuels and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 90 tonnes per year.
The new boilers complement existing renewable energy technologies used on the Estate:
- Solar photovoltaic panels: these convert the sun’s energy into electricity for use on the estate. The Estate has an array of 128 solar panels generating a peak output of 29kW.
- Solar thermal panels: these use the sun’s energy to pre-heat water before it goes through the boilers.
- Heat pumps: these extract heat from the air and ground and use electric pumps to boost it for use in the greenhouses, gardeners’ mess and staff accommodation.
In 2012, about 45% of the Estate’s energy was obtained from renewable sources, including electricity purchased from renewable sources. The new boilers are expected to double this proportion to about 90%.