Lawyers for Queen Elizabeth II successfully lobbied cabinet ministers to exempt the monarch’s private lands from one of Scotland’s major initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The exemption means the Queen, one of the largest landowners in Scotland, is the only person in the country not required to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy,” The Guardian reported Wednesday. “Her lawyers secured the dispensation from Scotland’s government five months ago by exploiting an obscure parliamentary procedure known as Queen’s consent, which gives the monarch advance sight of legislation.”
The UK-based paper describes that access as an “arcane parliamentary mechanism” that dates back to the 1700s. The finding comes from a series of documents, obtained under freedom of information laws, that “revealed how the Queen repeatedly used her privileged access to draft laws to lobby ministers to change UK legislation to benefit her private interests or reflect her opinions between the late 1960s and the 1980s”—and most recently, in the case of the climate law, in late February.
The Queen’s representatives swung into action after the government of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “heralded the bill as a key piece of legislation to combat the climate emergency” while taking on energy poverty, The Guardian says. When it introduced the heat networks bill, the government said it would cut emissions by the equivalent of 90,000 internal combustion cars by 2050, while saving participating households about £130 per year.
“The Scottish government’s commitment to helping ensure Scotland becomes net-zero by 2045 is unwavering,” Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said at the time. With buildings accounting for 30% of the country’s energy consumption, he added, “heat networks have huge potential to reduce emissions in our homes and buildings by providing more efficient, environmentally-friendly solutions.”
But that unwavering commitment was apparently not solid enough to withstand pressure from Buckingham Palace. The documents obtained by The Guardian “suggest Nicola Sturgeon’s government failed to disclose the monarch’s lobbying this year when a Scottish politician used a parliamentary debate to query why the Queen was securing an exemption from the green energy bill.”
All of which “appears at odds with the royal family’s public commitment to tackling the climate crisis, with Prince William recently joining his father, Charles, in campaigning to cut emissions and protect the planet,” the paper adds.