William: Reaching politicians with will to tackle climate issues ‘another story’

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·3-min read

The Duke of Cambridge has said reaching politicians with the will to tackle the planet’s environmental issues “is another story” – as he appeared on a climate change podcast.

William also said during his online appearance that he wanted his Earthshot Prize to elevate winners to “household names” and that the royal family has been part of the “environmental debate” for a long time.

The future king launched his £50 million Earthshot Prize earlier this month, which aims to recognise solutions, ideas and technologies that “repair the planet”.

He was joined by fellow Earthshot council member Christiana Figueres on the Outrage And Optimism podcast which she co-hosts.

Ms Figueres said monarchies could play an important role in countries where “democratic systems are really struggling to pick up the responsibility” and asked William if he had used his position to speak to people and help drive positive change.

He replied: “Absolutely. I think there isn’t anyone who I have spoken to that isn’t in (agreement) with that statement, Christiana. Everyone knows this is where we’re headed and these are the important issues we need to tackle.

“I think getting to those in the political world with the will to tackle things is another story.”

He went on to praise teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg, a positive example of the “younger generation”, who like others was a “good advocate and leading light”.

Outrage And Optimism is a weekly podcast which has featured guests from Ms Thunberg to US politician John Kerry.

It is co-hosted by ex-UN climate chief Ms Figueres, political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac and Paul Dickinson, the founder of environmental charity CDP.

With the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales both long-term advocates for the environment, William said: “I think my family has naturally had an opportunity here to support and to be a part of the environmental debate for a long time because it’s been at the forefront of a lot of conversations and a lot of issues for many, many years and people have talked about it for a long, long time.

“But we need the action now and that’s what these next 10 years is about.”

Sir David Attenborough has supported William's Earthshot Prize from its early days. Kensington Palace/The Earthshot Prize
Sir David Attenborough has supported William’s Earthshot Prize from its early days (Kensington Palace/The Earthshot Prize)

The Earthshot Prize takes its inspiration from the Apollo Moon landings, nicknamed Moonshot, which helped advance mankind’s technological achievements.

The prize features five categories – or Earthshots – which organisers say, if achieved by 2030, would improve life for all.

Every year from 2021 until the end of the decade, winners in the Earthshots will each receive £1 million after being picked by a judging panel of the duke and other leading figures including Sir David Attenborough and Shakira.

Speaking about his environmental competition, which he hopes will become the Nobel Prize of the environmental world, William added: “And the Earthshot Prize is about finding solutions. It’s about highlighting and raising people’s voices and genuine, tangible solutions to some of the hardest environmental problems to face.

“And if we can do that and elevate these people to become household names, these solutions to become household solutions, then we feel we’ve brought an added dimension to the debate which hasn’t been there before.

“Which is really helping allow some of the big issues and some of the real, optimistic, positive solutions to fixing our climate to the fore.

“And that’s what the prize is about, it’s highlighting individuals.”