For fifty years, The Prince of Wales has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future.
In the context of global challenges that include the climate crisis, 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.
His Royal Highness believes that economic and social development will best succeed when it works in harmony, rather than in conflict, with Nature.
“There is an amazing amount that can be done. It is a combined responsibility of all of us, the public sector, private sector and civil society.”
Over the decades, The Prince of Wales has launched a number of sustainability initiatives aimed at delivering practical outcomes. In late 2019, His Royal Highness launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council 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.
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.
In May 2017, His Royal Highness was awarded The GCC Global Leader of Change Award for his outstanding contribution to global environmental preservation and protection and for his passionate vision for a better future for humanity.
In November of 2017, The Prince delivered a speech at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta about conserving the ocean and the circular economy.
In September 2018, His Royal Highness received a special Lifetime Achievement Award from GQ Magazine for Services to Philanthropy. In an interview for the publication to celebrate the award The Prince discussed the importance of sustainable fashion, saying, “I have always believed that living on a finite planet means we have to recognize that this puts certain constraints and limits on our human ambition in order to maintain the viability of the planet.”
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.
Their Royal HIghnesses' 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
The Household of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall started measuring and reporting its emissions in 2007. Since then significant changes have been made to reduce fossil fuel use and replace it with renewable energy. Across the residences, about 90% of energy (including green gas and electricity) for office and domestic use comes from renewable sources. Of this, about half comes from on-site renewable (solar panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps) and about half from electricity and gas purchased from renewable sources.
Measures taken to reduce carbon emissions include:
• The Prince of Wales first installed solar photovoltaic panels at Clarence House in 2010 and then installed a second array in 2016. There are also solar panels at Highgrove and the Home Farm.
• Ground-source and air-source heat pumps are used at Highgrove;
• Energy-efficient boilers at Clarence House reduce gas consumption;
• Electricity use is closely monitored, including the use of smart meters;
• Electricity and gas is purchased from renewable sources where possible;
• Mains gas use is backed by Green Gas credits, which represent biomethane produced by an anaerobic digestion plant near Poundbury;
• Other measures to conserve energy include the use of fluorescent and LED lighting, motion-sensitive lights and ongoing works to improve building insulation.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the first and most important stage in minimizing the Household’s carbon footprint. The Household balances out its emissions to zero by investing in sustainable forestry and projects that reduce deforestation.
For more information on the Household's carbon footprint see the Annual Review.
Water, Waste and Travel Across the Household
- Rainwater is used to flush the toilets in the Orchard Room at Highgrove;
- A grey-water system at Birkhall cuts water use by collecting rainwater and reusing water from bathrooms;
- Reed-bed systems at Highgrove and Llwynywermod provide a natural way to treat wastewater;
- The Household also uses a range of cleaning products that are designed to reduce their impact on waterways.
- 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 fertilizer and generate renewable energy;
- 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.
- The majority of the Households plastic waste is recycled. The Household is taking action to reduce its single plastic use. It has used glasses and ceramic mugs and cups rather than disposable cups for over a decade. Kitchens have chilled water dispensers connected to the mains so plastic bottles aren’t needed.
Travel, around the UK and throughout the world, forms an essential part of Their Royal Highnesses’ work and emissions vary each year according to Their Royal Highnesses' schedule of engagements. The carbon impact is taken into account during planning along with cost, logistics and security considerations.
Some of the initiatives taken in this area include:
- Organizing travel so as to reduce carbon emissions, taking into account security, logistics, cost and other considerations;
- The Prince’s own Aston Martin runs on bio-ethanol made from wine wastage and a cheese by-product;
- The Prince uses a fully electric Jaguar I-Pace when travelling to engagements in London.
The Prince of Wales first addressed the issue of plastics pollution in 1970. Since then, His Royal Highness has used his position to highlight the issue in the UK, the Commonwealth and internationally.
There are 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers. It is not difficult to imagine the mountain of refuse that we will have to deal with somehow.
In March 2020 The Prince became the first Patron of Surfers Against Sewage, a Cornwall based charity working to protect the nation’s coastlines from plastic pollution. The organisation operates a programme of community led beach cleans and runs a plastic free schools initiative.
In March 2019 His Royal Highness visited the laboratories of Polymateria and met with scientists working to create a more sustainable solution for plastics by speeding up the biodegradation process. Read more about the visit here.
Internationally, The Prince’s work on the topic include delivering the keynote address at the 2017 Our Ocean conference in Malta and a visit to Auckland based charity Sea Cleaners during Their Royal Highnesses’ 2019 tour to New Zealand.
Sustainable Market Initiative
The Prince of Wales created the Sustainable Markets Initiative in 2019 with the support of the World Economic Forum, to accelerate a transition to sustainable markets and a decarbonised global economy. As the world increasingly focuses on the climate and biodiversity crisis, the Initiative is calling on governments, businesses, investors and consumers to take the urgent and practical steps required to transition to more sustainable practices
Sustainable Markets are designed with the intent to ensure the economy operates in favour of people and planet while contributing to growth and prosperity. The Prince of Wales’ role is to help convene, advise and champion the work of the initiative while also showcasing global best practice and responding to expressions of interest related to sustainable market creation. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, The Prince of Wales has joined Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, to launch “The Great Reset” as a global call to action, rooted in HRH”s Sustainable Markets Initiative, to learn the lessons from the crisis and to accelerate progress to a more sustainable future.
We now at last have a hugely important opportunity to reimagine our world through the lens of Sustainable Markets, and to put people and planet at the heart of global value creation
Click here to hear the rest of His Royal Highness’ speech launching the Sustainable Markets Council at Davos in January 2020.
To learn more about the work of the Sustainable Markets Initiative and recent roundtable meeting, please click here