UK’s Prince William to unveil environmental prize finalists
LONDON — Britain’s Prince William will announce Friday the first finalists of his multi-million-pound environmental prize, which he said he had set up in response to world leaders’ uninspiring response to the climate change crisis.
William, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, announced two years ago he would establish an “Earthshot Prize” with the aim of encouraging the world’s greatest problem-solvers to find answers to the planet’s biggest environmental problems.
Innovators will vie for the prize by creating new technologies, policies or solutions that mitigate climate issues. On Friday, he will reveal the first 15 finalists, with the five winners, who will collect one million pounds each, announced on October 17.
In an introduction to a book about the prize, “Earthshot: How to Save our Planet,” the prince said the facts looked “terrifying.”
“Humans have taken too many fish from the sea. We have cleared too many trees, burnt too much fossil fuel, and produced too much waste,” William, 39, wrote. “The damage we are doing is no longer incremental but exponential, and we are fast reaching a tipping point.”
The prince said he had come up with the idea for Earthshot following a visit to Namibia in 2018 and then being “hit by a wave of global pessimism” at climate change talks, which he feared could foster a growing sense of despondency.
“The headlines were dominated by a sense that world leaders were not moving fast enough,” he said. “There was widespread finger-pointing and political and geographical division. To those of us following at home, it wasn’t an inspiring sight.”
William said he was also inspired by his father Prince Charles and late grandfather Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, who both argued for decades about the importance of conservation and the impact of climate change.
The prize deliberately echoes the ambitious “Moonshot” project of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his goal for the 1969 moon landings.
“It was an incredible demonstration of our talent for making the impossible possible,” William said. “I wanted to recapture Kennedy’s Moonshot spirit of human ingenuity, purpose, and optimism, and turn it with laser-sharp focus and urgency on to the most pressing challenge of our time – repairing our planet.”
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