Prince Harry's Carbon Pledge Pressures Royals Day After Queen Omits Him From Speech

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle laid down the gauntlet to the royal family on climate change—by pledging to reach net zero by 2030.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex published the plans for their Archewell Foundation online a day after Queen Elizabeth II failed to mention them in a COP26 speech praising Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Philip's record on the environment.

Harry and Meghan name-checked the conference in a statement on their website which also affirmed their "long-standing commitment to the planet" dating back "over a decade."

The statement read: "As global leaders convene for COP26 to commit to solutions for our climate crisis, all of us at Archewell, led by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, share our pledge towards a more sustainable future by becoming net zero by 2030.

"Our co-founders, Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have a long-standing commitment to the planet, both together and prior to their union, with global projects and partnerships dating back over a decade."

Archewell will use Prince Harry's eco-tourism firm Travalyst and the couple's role with ethical investment firm Ethic to help reach the goal, the statement said.

One interesting aspect of the commitment is that it may be hard for the royal family to match from castles and palaces that are hard to make energy efficient due to their age and listed status.

While Meghan and Harry have been criticized for using private jets they may find they now fly less frequently than working royals who do overseas tours on request from the British Foreign Office.

Prince Harry Hugs Meghan Markle
Prince Harry puts his arm around Meghan Markle at Global Citizen Live on September 25, 2021 in New York City. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have vowed to reach net zero carbon emissions with their Archewell Foundation by 2030. NDZ/Star Max/GC Images

The royals, including Harry and Meghan, took between them 94 private jets and 191 helicopter journeys along with other scheduled flights in the year 2019 to 2020 using public money.

The figures are from before the coronavirus pandemic grounded much international travel, and it is yet to be seen whether the royals will return to that frequency global visits.

The announcement, though, came hot on the heels of the queen's praise for Harry's brother, father and grandfather for their work on climate change.

Elizabeth, 95, told world leaders including President Joe Biden: "It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them."

Earlier in her pre-recorded message on Monday night she had said of Philip: "I remember well that in 1969, he told an academic gathering: 'If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time ... If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.'"

Archewell's statement said: "We are a young company, but today, Archewell joins our co-founders in committing to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

"Achieving net zero carbon emissions means making a series of choices over time to make that footprint as small as possible, while compensating for any remaining emissions through high-quality carbon removal projects.

"As an organization, we will work with an independent consultant to track all Archewell-related activities from our inception (internet use, commutes, and electricity in home offices, for example) to understand our collective footprint.

"Using 2022 as our baseline year, they will develop a plan for Archewell that aligns with the latest guidance from leading organizations, like the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), while offsetting remaining emissions until we achieve net zero in 2030 and beyond."

Queen Elizabeth II Addresses COP26
Queen Elizabeth II's pre-recorded video message to COP26 delegates, in which she praised the climate change work of Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Prince William but not Prince Harry. It was broadcast at an evening reception at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Buckingham Palace via Getty Images