While many debate the merits of offsetting carbon in ways such as planting new trees, Prince Charles has reportedly gone carbon-neutral. We have reported a few times already on some of the methods that allowed the royal household to reduce its carbon footprint by 9 percent in the last year, and the latest report issued by the prince's Clarence House office has shown that all 3,775 tons, between April 1, 2006 and March 31 of this year have been offset.

I am not one to get involved in politics, and I honestly don't know a great deal about the structure of the Government in the U.K, so I won't spend too much time dealing with the specifics on the breakdown of the Prince and Duchess's environmentally friendly work or the income spent on it. If you want to know more about those details, why not click here to read the official press release. What I do find rather notable is the fact that their household was able to reduce their carbon emissions by 9 percent in just one year. They have also gone on the record as setting a target to further reduce their footprint by 12.5 percent by 2012. Imagine if all high ranking officials took this approach.

From the report: "The Prince of Wales's Household has a policy of reducing its carbon and wider greenhouse gas emissions to the greatest extent possible, and to the extent that reductions cannot be achieved, offsetting the emissions."

For more, follow along after the break.

[Source: The Prince of Wales]

Let me just warn you in advance that the official document is a .pdf and is over 50 pages long. So, I verified that it is ok to copy the material (it is), and have pasted some of the interesting tidbits below:

"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... It is 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."

For the past 20 years The Prince of Wales has been doing what he can to raise awareness of the impact of mankind's activities on the environment, and in December 2006, at the launch of his Accounting for Sustainability project, His Royal Highness warned that time was running out in the race to counter the harmful effects on the planet of climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions Policy

The Prince of Wales's Household has a policy of reducing its carbon and wider greenhouse gas emissions to the greatest extent possible, and to the extent that reductions cannot be achieved, offsetting the emissions. As a result of this policy, since 2005 The Prince's Household – which is made up of his London home and offi ce at Clarence House, his residences at Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Birkhall in Scotland, as well as the offi cial activities of his staff, and the offi cial (excluding overseas travel) and private activities of The Prince and The Duchess of Cornwall – has been carbon neutral. To measure the Household's carbon footprint more precisely and to understand how to reduce it, His Royal Highness commissioned an environmental review in 2005. Undertaken with Forum for the Future, the review was completed in early 2007, and a new long-term environmental strategy drawn up. Reduction

Reducing the use of carbon-based fuels and improving effi ciency are central to reducing carbon emissions, and a number of measures have been taken or are being introduced to cut the Household's emissions. They include: the conversion at Birkhall and Highgrove to 'green' electricity from sustainable sources (Clarence House's electricity is sourced by Buckingham Palace from the national grid); the installation of woodchip boilers at both residences; the installation of new, more effi cient boilers at Clarence House; the installation of solar panels at Home Farm and Highgrove; and a host of smaller, energy efficiency actions.

Travel emissions make up a large part of the Household's carbon footprint, and when Their Royal Highnesses are travelling in the UK the aim is to reduce emissions through greater use of cars, trains and turbo-prop aircraft, and more use, where practical and possible, of scheduled fl ights. In addition, in accepting and arranging engagements, more consideration is being given to reducing travel distances; and, in order to reduce net emissions from car travel, The Prince's Jaguar and Land Rover have been converted to run on 100 per cent biodiesel from used cooking oil. Measures are also being taken to reduce staff commuter and work travel, and the Household has a policy of buying regional and organic food to reduce 'food miles' (and to support local farmers and biodiversity).

Overseas travel on behalf of the Government is the biggest single contributor to the Household's carbon footprint. It is often diffi cult to use scheduled fl ights for overseas travel because of the complexity of Their Royal Highnesses' programme, security considerations and other factors which will continue to require the use of private aircraft.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

In addition, the requirements of the overseas tours programme, which is determined by the Foreign and Commonwealth Offi ce rather than the Household, will mean that in some years emissions may rise, rather than fall, because of the greater distances required to be travelled on Government business to foreign and Commonwealth countries. As a result of the measures already taken, in 2006-07 the Household's carbon emissions fell by 9 per cent to 3,425 tonnes CO2. This fi gure does not include emissions from the Home Farm at Highgrove. There are still uncertainties with respect to the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions for the Farm, but it is hoped that a fi gure can be included in the 2008 Annual Review. While these fi gures have been prepared in conjunction with the Household's advisers, they have not been audited by a formally recognised third party. It is planned that the fi gures will be audited in the future.

Offset

In addition to enhancing energy effi ciency, and reducing carbon emissions as a result, The Prince has offset his Household's carbon emissions since 2005, excluding those from offi cial overseas travel before 2007. The offsets are achieved by investing, via Climate Care, a specialist agency, in sustainable energy projects and energy effi ciency initiatives. However, this is an evolving area, and the best way to achieve sustainable and effective offsetting is under continuing review by the Household and its advisers.

The future

While it is encouraging that emissions have been reduced by 9 per cent in the past year, more work needs to be done with the Household's advisers to identify where further reductions can be achieved. Despite the need for this further work, the Household is confi dent that it can exceed the UK's Kyoto target of reducing emissions by 12.5 per cent between 2008-2012; although, as mentioned previously, the achievement of this target will be determined to a signifi cant extent by the amount of overseas travel required by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Water and waste

Reducing water usage and improving waste management are also important to minimising the Household's impact on the environment. Various measures have been introduced to reduce water use, including the use of a reed bed sewage system at Highgrove and a roof-harvested rainwater irrigation system for the gardens. Household waste from residences and offi ces is recycled, and is used, for example, for compost in the gardens where possible. More action can be taken to reduce waste and to improve recycling, and this will be a major objective of 2007-08 once more precise measurement of the Household's waste has been undertaken. The Duchy of Cornwall, Duchy Originals and The Prince's Charities The Prince of Wales's Household makes up just one part of the overall environmental footprint of His Royal Highness's interests. Like his Household, the Duchy of Cornwall and Duchy Originals are working hard to improve their carbon effi ciency and their sustainability. All three organisations work together wherever possible. In addition, in 2006 The Prince requested that each of his core 18 charities undertake their own environmental review and establish their own targets for reducing their impact on the environment.

THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

The Prince of Wales has provided leadership on environmental issues for decades. The main themes to which he most often returns are the need for sustainable development, for responsible stewardship of our natural resources and for global co-operation to protect our environmental heritage.

With the threat posed by climate change receiving widespread media coverage, The Prince's main efforts during the year were focused on highlighting the practical differences businesses and ordinary people can make to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. One of the biggest events of the year was the launch at St James's Palace in December 2006 of The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability project, which is aimed at encouraging sustainable practices in businesses and other organisations by developing systems to help them measure more effectively the environmental and social costs of their actions. Before an audience of senior politicians from all the main political parties, top business executives and faith leaders, The Prince said the world was running up "the biggest global credit card debt in history. 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."

To reduce our reliance on that environmental 'credit', the project aims to provide tools and measures to allow organisations to put sustainability at the heart of their decision-making process and to report their environmental performance more clearly and consistently.

The Prince's own company, Duchy Originals, is leading the way in this regard by beginning to quantify how much greenhouse gas is emitted during the production of its goods. Once the data has been collected, Duchy Originals hopes to include it in an accessible form on its product labelling to enable consumers to make better-informed decisions. As well as doing what he can to tackle the issue of climate change, The Prince is also keen to help conserve natural habitats for animals and plant life. Last year he helped celebrate the 60th birthday of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), an organisation of which he has been President for almost half of its life. Hosting a reception at Clarence House in December 2006, His Royal Highness recalled as a 10 year-old visiting Slimbridge in Gloucester with The Queen, where Sir Peter Scott founded the WWT, describing the visit as one of the early inspirations for his interest in the environment.

The Prince's long track record of leading on environmental matters earned recognition in January 2007 when he received the 10th Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School at a ceremony in New York. The previous winner of the award, former Vice-President Al Gore, presented the prize, jointly with the actress Meryl Streep. Mr Gore described The Prince of Wales as a leader who had "brought people together to think and then act."

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