“We can save the planet without closing highways or blocking ambulances”

It’s really annoying, the Queen has been overheard complaining recently, when people talk and don’t. She is believed to be referring to the lack of commitment to the upcoming Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow, where world leaders are meeting to negotiate a new deal to block rising global temperatures. “Extraordinary, isn’t it? I’ve heard of Cop… I still don’t know who’s coming. No idea, ”she stormed to the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, Speaker of the Welsh Parliament, at the opening of the Senedd.

As someone who has already made huge changes in their way of life to save energy and the planet, one can understand the monarch’s frustration. Long before sustainability was a buzzword, the queen embraced energy-efficient LED lighting, renewables, electric cars, beehives and insect hotels. During a visit to the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute earlier this year, she made it clear her belief that climate change means ‘we’re going to have to change the way we do things’.

You would think the very real threat of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and potentially deadly weather conditions would push any leader to run for the party. Yet closing your eyes is an age-old habit. As the Earl of Devon, a passionate environmentalist, points out, we have known since 1780 that the empire was destroying the natural world. “The early pioneers knew it but we forgot it,” he says. “We have managed to hide it, by packing consumption in the Third World. We were too amazed by all the treasures we were exploiting the landscape. It’s fascinating to watch historical oblivion – climate change is something we have chosen to ignore.

After taking over his family seat, Powderham Castle, six years ago, Lord Devon came to the conclusion that when it comes to living more sustainably, we have to look back and move forward. “We may have invented the iPad, but we still use the earth the same way,” he says. “We can learn a lot from the past. »He is inspired by the agricultural and constructive practices of his ancestors, but also from a more recent past; his father was an avid recycler, long before it became common practice.

“Sustainability is a state of mind and a way of life,” agrees Dr. Keith Powell, a seventh generation farmer from the Black Mountains. “My father always taught me that it is not viable not to cultivate sustainably; he saw that what you take out of the environment you have to put back in place. It’s a challenge we should savor rather than avoid.

Prince Charles, who now runs his Aston Martin on bioethanol made from waste wine and a cheese by-product, insists that it is the common responsibility of all of us to work in harmony rather than ‘in conflict with nature.

The first step, according to Lord Devon, is to believe that we can each make a difference – whether it’s by planting a million trees, which Powell set out to do, or switching to an electric car.

“We have been dead to the environment for too long, ordering countless parcels online and living an unsustainable practical life,” says Lord Devon. “But now we all have to do better personally. ”

“Our deer park has operated exactly the same for 300 years”

Charlie Courtenay, 19th Earl of Devon, conducts Powderham Castle in Devon, which has been in his family since the 14th century.


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