- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

LONDON — Putting his money where his environmentalist mouth is, Prince Charles is swapping gas-guzzling private planes and helicopters for commercial flights, train journeys and biodiesel cars.

A longtime champion of green causes, the heir to the throne says action is needed now to avoid leaving a ruined planet to the next generation.

“From February, we are going to look at the diary and see what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint,” a spokeswoman for the prince’s London residence, Clarence House, said yesterday on the condition of anonymity in line with royal rules. “Wherever possible, we will be making less use of helicopters and chartered planes and rely more on car journeys, scheduled flights and trains.”

The prince is also having his Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles converted to run on 100 percent biodiesel and is converting to the use of electricity from sustainable sources at his London and country homes, the spokeswoman said.

Energy-efficient boilers that burn wood chips are being installed at his country homes at Highgrove in southern England — where he farms organically — and at Birkhall in Scotland.

For the first time, the prince’s annual accounts published next summer will include details of his household’s carbon emissions and set targets to reduce this.

The royals have traditionally used private transport. But pressure to be more cost-effective has seen the scrapping of the royal yacht Britannia and cuts in the use of the royal train.

Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, recently took a scheduled train for the first time, to Norfolk in eastern England, but has not announced any plans to cut emissions produced by her palaces.

Charles, whose green views once led the tabloids to lampoon him as a “loony” who talked to plants, has also initiated a program to help businesses monitor cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The prince’s food company Duchy Originals, which generates more than $1.8 million a year for his charities, is measuring the levels of greenhouse gases it emits in producing everything from biscuits to bacon.

“We are consuming the resources of our planet at such a rate that we are, in effect, living off credit and living on borrowed time,” the prince said Wednesday at the inauguration of his Accounting for Sustainability program. “So it is, of course, our children and grandchildren who will have to pay off this debt and we owe it to them — and to ourselves — to do something about it before it is too late.”

Prime Minister Tony Blair told the group that the prince’s program will allow companies “to measure what it is they’re doing and … take the action necessary to reduce harmful practices.”

Environmental groups applauded Charles’ latest initiatives, saying Mr. Blair’s Labor government is not responding actively enough to calls to reduce global warming.

“As future king, his opinion will hopefully prove harder for our government to ignore,” said Green Party spokeswoman Sian Berry.

More than 20 years ago, Charles first espoused organic farming methods, local food sourcing and sustainable development.

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