Climate top of Swedish king’s agenda

King Carl Gustaf sorts out his recyclables in his private kitchen, runs a pellet-fired boiler at Drottningholm palace and talks about climate change whenever he goes on state visits - but he doesn't drive a 'green' car.

“I perhaps don’t practise quite what I preach,” he said in an interview with TT on Tuesday.

“But in the garage we have two biogas cars and two ethanol cars. And Madeleine, she drives a hybrid car, which her dad doesn’t do yet,” he said.

King Carl Gustaf likened the unusually warm autumn to a wake-up call, but he says he is not worried.

“Humans are creators and smarter than that, we’re going to deal with this. I’m glad the greenhouse effect has appeared on the agenda – now it’s discussed daily both in the Swedish and international mass media,” he said.

His own eyes were opened to the “massive, important and serious” climate changes taking place when he and Crown Princess Victoria travelled between Luleå and Stockholm on the ice-breaker Oden two years ago. They were accompanied by international climate researchers, including Bob Corell, an American, and Will Steffen, from Australia.

The journey was an international environmental symposium which the king initiated in 1992.

After the conference on the ice breaker the king has sought to return to environmental and climate issues whenever he speaks publicly and when he has private discussions on state visits.

“I often raise the issues. I talk about energy matters when we visit different projects and industries.”

The king also requested a pellet-burning boiler for Drottningholm, the palace outside Stockholm, which was previously heated by oil.

“I started going on about this five or six years ago. Then I wanted the heating system to use straw but we’ve settled on the pellets,” he explained.

“It means that we save 1.5 million kronor a year and reduce emissions by 90 percent.”

But does the king sort his plastic bottles from his tin cans in the royal kitchen?

“I do sort things out for recycling in our private kitchen, where we have different containers. At Drottningholm we have litter sorted for recycling in the park. And a few weeks ago I checked what happened at the palace in Stockholm – it’s very well-organised.”

The king’s own environmental interest comes from his mother, Princess Sibylla, he said. As a child he used to wander with her through the forests of Drottningholm and on the islands of Ingarö, Alvaret and Öland:

“She loved nature and the air. I got that from her, that’s the foundation.”