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Prince Charles says his Aston Martin runs on wine and cheese byproducts

The future king is committed to lowering his carbon footprint, but experts warn the solution isn’t practical for most people

Prince Charles is seen next to his Aston Martin DB6 during a visit to the new Aston Martin Lagonda factory in Wales on Feb. 21. (WPA Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON — Prince Charles has spoken out about his personal efforts to combat the climate crisis, which include pumping wine and cheese byproducts into his Aston Martin sports car and installing solar panels at his royal residence, Clarence House.

Speaking to the BBC about his carbon footprint ahead of a U.N. climate summit later this month, the heir to Britain’s throne said the vehicle, which he has owned for more than 50 years, runs on “surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process.”

The royal’s car has been converted so that it runs on a biofuel known as E85 — which is blended from 85 percent bioethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline.

While this means the fuel is more sustainable, there are disadvantages to using the substitute, which is made from biomass such as sugar, wheat or corn. Vehicle engines need to be modified to be powered by the substance, and the need for biofuel crops means greater demands on forestland.

“On a large scale biofuels do more harm than good, driving deforestation and land use change that worsens the climate crisis,” Greg Archer, a director at a European clean transport group, told the Guardian newspaper.

Archer warned motorists not to mistake the future king’s method as “a serious solution to decarbonize vehicles.”

The prince has spent decades campaigning for a more sustainable future and earlier this year appealed to world leaders to come together to help fight the crisis.

“Let us join forces and waste no more time,” he urged during January’s One Planet Summit.

In the interview with the BBC, Charles said action to combat the climate emergency was taking “too long.” He added that he understood the frustration felt by young people because “they see their future being totally destroyed.”

Speaking via video message on Oct. 12, Britain's Prince Charles advocated for clean energy and an end to coal fired plants. (Video: Reuters)

“I totally understand the frustration,” he said. “The difficulty is how do you direct that frustration in a way that is more constructive rather than destructive.”

In recent weeks, protesters from the activist group Insulate Britain have blocked key roads across the nation, leading to widespread chaos and angry confrontations. The group is demanding that the government insulate all social housing by 2025.

Separately, activist Greta Thunberg blasted the world’s “so-called leaders” during an impassioned speech at Italy’s Youth4Climate summit last month, accusing politicians of failing to act amid the climate emergency and describing their promises as decades of “blah blah blah.”

Charles seemed to agree with Thunberg that there is a lot of chatter among officials and not enough concrete action.

“They just talk,” he told the BBC. “The problem is trying to get action on the ground.”

The U.N. climate summit, known as COP26, will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from the end of this month until Nov. 12. The conference will host leaders, scientists and campaigners as they review the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and work to protect communities impacted by climate change.

Officials in attendance are expected to present 2030 emission-reduction targets, which include curtailing deforestation and working to phase out coal.

During the interview, the prince and camera crew strolled through the lush green gardens of the royal Balmoral estate, a space he has dedicated to his first grandson, Prince George.

He said other steps he has taken to reduce his carbon footprint include not eating dairy products once a week and using electric vehicles.

On social media, responses to the prince’s admissions were mixed. Some critics noted that the royal family frequently travels by private helicopter, flights that aviation experts say generate 10 to 20 times the amount of carbon emissions as regular flights.

Last year, Clarence House was forced to defend the prince after he flew 125 miles on a private aircraft to make a speech about lowering aircraft emissions. The Daily Mirror reported that the entire journey — which included a stopover to see his mother, Queen Elizabeth II — cost at least 12,000 pounds (about $16,300) and caused carbon emissions of around 2.5 metric tons.

“The prince is not personally involved in decisions around his transportation arrangements, though he ensures all carbon emissions are offset every year,” a spokesperson said at the time.

Others on social media joked that they felt a deep connection to the prince’s dairy-and-alcohol-fueled car.

“I must be an old Aston Martin, as I run on exactly the same,” wrote one Twitter user.

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