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Is the British Royal Family Really “Eco-Friendly”? - Gülce Özdilekcan



Inevitably, the most famous family globally is the British Royal Family. Besides the political effects on the United Kingdom, they symbolize a family that should be an example for the citizens. Therefore, every effort they make towards a public topic is widely publicized. In other words, they live their lives in front of the camera, which makes them a public figure that is taken as an example. We often talk about how social media is influential for most age groups today. It has overly increased in the last ten years and the way we perceive information has moved slowly towards social media. The way we use social media is by "following" what other people are doing, which has moved towards following influential people. Therefore, people worldwide can reach the British Royal Family and follow what they are doing. As we see celebrities promoting products and services to their followers, we often see that the Royal Family is doing the same by using their fame and their name. One of their duties is to promote social issues such as peace, unity, and many more, as we have seen throughout the family's reign.


Sustainability and promotion of it have been one of the scopes of the family as well for many years. Raising awareness is the primary goal for influencing the public for the Royal Family. "For more than four decades, The Prince of Wales has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future." His way of raising awareness is defined as making speeches, articles, books, and films. He aims to reach his goal of ensuring sustainability is by reaching the people and changing their minds towards the necessity of sustainability. He also defends that economic and social sustainability and development can be reached by not using up the natural sources but sustaining them. In my opinion, his claim about sustainability is fair; however, are they sufficient to change the way people see sustainability? As mentioned, they are the most famous family in the world, and they have influential power over the people all over the world, which makes them hold huge power over creating awareness over their followers. Have they done the best they could do to ensure a sustainable future, or is there anything more that they can do?


What have they done so far?

COP26

Towards the end of 2021, the COP26 conference was held in UK, Glasgow, to set some goals towards climate change and sustainability. 197 countries have attended the conference to discuss what could be done to change the way climate change is happening. “The package of decisions consists of a range of agreed items, including strengthened efforts to build resilience to climate change, to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to provide the necessary finance for both." They have set some goals for both the short and long term and revised what has been done before to control climate change and sustainability. The Queen of England has talked about this issue in an interview. She criticized the COP26 countries as "they are talking, but they are not reflecting their promises into acts." Prince Charles has agreed that they are only talking, but how they implement their promises will go towards a catastrophic end. However, there is a contradiction that both the Royal Family and the UK government have attended the COP26 conference, and they have done the same. They have discussed what can be done and promised some of the changes. These types of conferences were done before. However, were they promising enough that they would have a huge impact? The current situation shows that they are not.


Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council

“In response to the increasing threats posed by climate change and biodiversity loss, the Prince of Wales created the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, in September 2019.” As a usual way of solving problems, they have created a 10-step action plan. As the Prince of Wales has stated, it has a goal of optimizing the global future benefit. These steps can be summarized as using social media for awareness, investing in nature, making sustainable goods reachable and popular, etc. Prince Charles often states that the acts that should be taken regarding climate change should be revolutionary. The decisions taken by Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council should be revolutionary as well; however, in my opinion, they are not something new or revolutionary. In fact, it is pretty similar to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, No.13, which is called "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts," and its targets. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not revolutionary enough to reach Prince Charles' promises.


What can they do furthermore?

Observing what they have done so far, they have mostly organized conferences, meetings, set goals, etc. Above, I have given two near past acts that they have done regarding sustainability and climate change. Even though they criticize other countries and institutions as just talking without taking any actions, the acts that they are doing seem to be similar. As I have mentioned, they live in front of the public eye and, they don’t have the power for legislation. Therefore, they have the most power to influence the public by being an example since they cannot change legislation. They should be an example with their acts to change the mind of the public and create public awareness themselves rather than setting a goal for raising awareness.


I think that, even though they have been defending the environment and sustainability for decades now, they are not a perfect example themselves. They are not living in a way that is sustainable and completely environment-friendly. For example, the British Royal Family holds a huge amount of land in their hands. However, it is said that they are deforested and sometimes used for industrial reasons. “Prince Charles's Duchy of Cornwall, which has just six percent tree cover, compared with a European Union average of 37 percent.” These lands are seen as "ugly-looking," which is the opposite of the goals set by the Royal Family. Also, it is known that the Queen and her family loves hunting; therefore, the lands that she hunts often are set on fire to create a clearer landscape for bird hunting. Also, it is a well-known fact that there is a huge amount of energy used for the Palace, which is not eco-friendly.

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