Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

Prince William launches £50m Earthshot Prize: ‘Dotty not to believe in climate change’

New award dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize for environmentalism’

Prince William said today those who don’t believe in climate change are “dotty” because the world is clearly at a “tipping point” for environmental destruction.

The Duke of Cambridge has launched the Earthshot Prize – dubbed the “Nobel Prize for environmentalism” – alongside naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Appearing on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, the prince said “there was no more pressing issue than the environment” and it was “his job, his responsibility” to highlight the catastrophic risk of runaway climate change.

The Earthshot Prize will award £50 million ($64.8m) over a decade to the best and most innovative ideas to combat environmental destruction.

DP World, in partnership with Dubai Expo 2020, are among the founding partners of the prize, which is the richest environmental award to date.

The duke was asked about his father Prince Charles, who previously acknowledged his outspoken views on the environment were regarded as “dotty” a few decades ago.

Prince William joked: “I regularly wonder what my father is banging on about. I’m sure every son thinks the same.

“Obviously with my father's environmental credentials he’s talked about this for a long time and long before people cottoned on to climate change.”

He said: “So, I’ve always listened to and learnt and believed in what he was saying.

“But I knew it was a very hard sell 40 years ago to predict and see some of the slow moving catastrophes we're heading towards.”

The prince, who is second in line to the throne, was pressed on whether it was risky for a senior member of the royal family to wade into contentious issues.

He quipped: “I think the dotty person now is the person who doesn’t believe in climate change.”

Prince William and Sir David Attenborough discuss the Earthshot Prize at Kensington Palace. Getty Images
Prince William and Sir David Attenborough discuss the Earthshot Prize at Kensington Palace. Getty Images

Sir David agreed Prince William’s assessment “summed up” the majority view now.

“Suddenly we see the writing on the wall,” he said.

The Earthshot Prize will make five awards of £1m each year for 10 years.

Prize open to 'crackpot' ideas

Backed by philanthropists, the prize will be awarded to the best ideas to achieve five "universal goals to repair our planet by 2030".

The goals include: protect and restore nature, clean the air, revive the oceans, build a waste-free world and fix the climate.

The aim is to find "new solutions" that have a positive effect on environmental change and improve living standards globally, particularly those communities most at risk from climate change.

The prize could go to a new technology, a new way of doing things or a new policy.

Prince William said he hoped the prize “reaches everyone around the world”.

"From communities, schools, right up to banks, governments, corporations – anyone and everyone is a part of this and anyone could find the solutions that we need."

Suggestions that "may sound crackpot" are welcome, Sir David said.

The Earthshot Prize council will be made up of Prince William and celebrities from entertainment, sport, business, charity and the environment.

The duke said the money would help people develop their ideas and make a difference to the world.

"We felt the one piece of the jigsaw that was missing was positivity," he said.

“There are a lot of warnings and negativity, which quite rightly there is, because we’re at a critical juncture.

“But there are many people who want to do the right thing by the environment. What they need is a catalyst, a bit of hope, a bit of positivity.

“The prize is about harnessing that optimism.”

Updated: October 8, 2020 03:44 PM

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