Yes folks, with his slack jaw and rosy cheeks, Prince Charles has been in the news again, but not for the reasons I have just led you to believe. This time, it isn’t about creative accounting in the bedroom. Instead, Charlie boy is back at the rostrum, imploring the world to follow his example by returning to the life of the low-born serf – having naught but an entourage of over 150 estate workers to help maintain some semblance of modern-day civilisation. Because, you know, that’s what it’s going to take to save the planet. We all need to go carbon neutral, just like our Charles. And just to make sure we all get the message, he has been telling us so, with all of the diplomatic and non-credentialed immunity one can muster from being a guest speaker at the G7 Summit.
You might think that the world would know better than to accept the expert authority of a toff who believes in homeopathy, speaks to his rubber plants and has on his bucket list the ambition of becoming a tampon. But we live in strange times in which the pupil has become the teacher, and the loony landed gentry have bought up all the moral high ground and evicted the plebs. We’d like to give voice to our own opinions, but who are we? We don’t have anyone to clean our polo boots, let alone someone who is paid to clean the boots of the bloke who cleans our polo boots. So I guess our role is just to shut up and wait for Boris to reveal to us all what our personal priorities had been all along. Even so, it would be nice to see some degree of leadership-by-example from those who are privileged enough to have every bat-shit crazy word recorded and reported on the evening news as if some sort of sermon on the mount.
So, as far as burning bushes go, just how climate-friendly is our right, royal, regal regaler, His Royal Highness, the Prince of a country the size of Wales?
I Have Here the Data
Fortunately, the princely Charles is good enough to publish annual reports declaring to the world just how much progress his estate is making in its race towards carbon-neutrality. The latest report, issued June 2018, and compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), makes for some interesting reading. It gives a breakdown of carbon dioxide emissions from household energy use and from official travel, both domestic and overseas. Figures are given for 2016, 2017 and 2018, enabling some appreciation of progress. Firstly, there is the household performance, for which the report says of 2018:
“Total energy use remained fairly constant this year and the proportion of energy from on-site renewable sources remained at 39%. Net emissions fell by 6% due to reductions in fossil fuel use and greater use of energy from renewable sources.”
Seems fair enough until one notes that 2017 had seen an increase on 2016, so the two year reduction is far less impressive. In fact, it is absolutely nothing to write home about.
Then there is the domestic travel:
“…emissions from official UK and other travel have fallen by 10%.”
Okay, I suppose. But then the report says:
“A very busy schedule of overseas engagements, following a relatively quiet prior year, resulted in an increase in emissions from official overseas travel of 286%.”
I beg your pardon!
“I said, a very busy schedule of overseas engagements, following a relatively quiet prior year, resulted in an increase in emissions from official overseas travel of 286%.”
Not such good news then. And it doesn’t end there, because the above are figures for official travel. In addition, the report states:
“Emissions from other travel comprise non-official staff and private travel and vary each year with the amount of travel undertaken and the modes of transport used.”
What? Like the helicopter used to attend a polo match 60 miles down the road? A private helicopter, I suppose, is a mode of transport when all is said and done. But so is the sedan chair. A climate-friendly prince might have chosen the latter for such a short trip.
But to His Royal Credit
I don’t know about you, but I am not getting a picture of continual improvement here. That, however, would be to miss the essential point. Who needs to improve, continually or otherwise, when you’ve got a ready supply of carbon credits to cash in? So the bottom line of the report reads as follows:
Total Co2 equivalent emissions, 2017: 1,703 tonnes
Total Co2 equivalent emissions, 2018: 3,271 tonnes
Carbon credits purchased, 2017: 1,703 tonnes
Carbon credits purchased, 2018: 3,271 tonnes
Net emissions after credits, 2017: 0 tonnes
Net emissions after credits, 2018: 0 tonnes
Now I grok it. It really doesn’t matter at all how you perform when you have a magic carbon credit machine at your disposal. You can wipe out any increase at the stroke of a pen. And that means you can take that private jet to Davos to meet up with Greta. All you need to do is to remember to turn up the knob on the carbon credit machine before you leave the house. It really is that simple. It also explains how one can contemplate expending 200 gallons of aviation fuel travelling to a polo game, rather than the 4 gallons of petrol we evil, climate trashing plebs might have opted for.
In fact, I really can’t for the life of me understand why Charles is always going on about sacrificing for the greater good. With credits in your valet’s back pocket there’s no need to sacrifice anything. Charles may have by far the biggest carbon footprint of any of the royals, but then the others don’t seem to have his bottomless pit of carbon credit to call upon. That’s why he gets to fly the evangelist flag. And that’s why he gets to fly around the world, farting out tonnes of carbon dioxide in his trail, in his self-promotional but ultimately futile bid to share a Nobel Prize with someone – anyone.
And that is why, I’m out.
I have just been notified on good authority that the feature image for this article is that of Lord Charles and not Prince Charles.
What can I say? I made a mistake. I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to run a BBC Fact Check.