Charles celebrates green award - by flying to US with a 20-strong entourage

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The Independent Online

Prince Charles is making a round trip of almost 7,000 miles to Philadelphia and New York on a jumbo jet with 20 of his staff - to collect an award honouring his green credentials.

The Prince of Wales is due to pick up a Global Environmental Citizen prize from Harvard Medical School's Centre for Health and the Global Environment later this month from last year's recipient, former American vice- president, Al Gore.

Charles is to be praised for highlighting the importance of the environment.

Environmental campaigners yesterday accused him of "green hypocrisy", saying he should be accepting the award via video link instead.

Throughout his two-day visit with the Duchess of Cornwall on 27 and 28 January he also has plans to emphasise that climate change is a key international priority of the British government.

Travel costs for the trip, which comes 14 months after Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last visited the US and four months before the Queen undertakes a state visit there in May, will be met by taxpayers.

Charles and Camilla are planning to use scheduled flights to get to the US, instead of their usual method of charter flights, which stems from plans announced by Clarence House last month to make the Prince's household more eco-friendly.

It has been reported that the entire first and business-class sections of a jumbo jet have been booked for the trip. But aides insisted they would only book 20 seats if they did travel scheduled.

Official overseas visits using scheduled flights, instead of hiring a plane for themselves, would be considered if security allowed, aides said.

In the summer, the Prince will publish details of his own carbon footprint in his annual accounts and set a target to reduce substantially the carbon emissions of his office and household.

Environmental campaigners yesterday accused him of "green hypocrisy", saying he should be accepting the award via video link instead.

Joss Garman, spokesman for climate change action group Plane Stupid, said: "Flying to an environmental award ceremony is a bit like turning up to an Oxfam award ceremony in a stretch limo.

"Prince Charles may as well be picking up an award for green hypocrisy, especially since he could have used this to highlight the seriousness of climate change by accepting the award via video link-up."

Sian Berry, the Green Party's principal speaker, said: "The Prince of Wales said only three months ago that climate change was mankind's greatest challenge. I am disappointed to see that - much like Tony Blair - his recognition of the threat posed by climate change does not extend to toning down his personal flying habits. Why can't he set a genuine example and accept the award by video link instead?"

A Clarence House spokeswoman said receiving the award was part of a two-day visit which will also highlight urban redevelopment and youth regeneration. "They are going to the US at the request of the Foreign Office," she said.

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