Green Queen (and King)
The Royal Family has long followed that tradition of upper-class British environmentalists who see no contradiction between saving wildlife and shooting it (Peter Scott, who founded the Wildlife & Wetland Trust, stocked his first reserve with wildfowl he had ‘winged’ with his shotgun). But what does the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III mean, if anything, for wider Sustainability?
The late Queen’s sense of duty was legendary and that extended to being very discreet when it came opining publicly on any issue deemed ‘political’. She was patron of many environmental organisations, including the RSPB and CyclingUK, but the most intriguing glimpse of her personal views came ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference where she was overhead expressing irritation at the continued preponderance of talking over doing. Her official address to the Conference made this point more diplomatically, but equally firmly, so we were left in no doubt as to the Queen’s commitment to tackling climate change.
The new King’s passion for Sustainability is much better known, most recently through his ‘Terra Carta’ set of environmental pledges, but also through his regenerative organic agriculture on his estate and converting his Aston Martin to run on bioethanol made from food waste. Former advisors Tony Juniper and Jonathon Porritt both confirmed the Prince’s concern about climate change is deeply felt. A commentator on Times Radio this morning reported the King is concerned about whether new PM Liz Truss’s commitment to the country’s Net Zero target is genuine, and will be pressing her on this.
Personally, I’d love to be a fly on the wall if and when the King talks to Truss’s Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is both a dyed in the wool monarchist and a climate sceptic. Will he be able to ignore a suggestion from the Monarch? I suspect Charles will be more likely to make Rees-Mogg see sense than any number of academic papers. [Note for Sustainability practitioners – if someone won’t listen to your arguments, have a think about who they would listen to.]
We shall see!