Prince William capped a three-day visit to Boston with a meeting with President Joe Biden to share his vision for protecting the environment before attending a gala on Friday night, where he struck an upbeat tone to address the world’s environmental challenges by ” hope, optimism and urgency” to resolve.”
Paying tribute to the late President John F Kennedy, the Prince of Wales said his Earthshot award was inspired by Kennedy’s courageous 1962 Moonshot speech, which mobilized the nation to put astronauts on the moon. The same sense of urgency and scale is now required to protect the environment, William said.
“In the same way that the space effort created jobs, boosted economies and provided hope six decades ago, the solutions being carried by today’s Earthshot Prize winners can do the same,” William said.
The second annual Earthshot Awards offered £1 million (US$1.2 million) in prize money to each of the winners in five different categories: Conservation, Clean Air, Ocean Revitalization, Waste Removal and Climate Change. The winners and all 15 finalists will receive help to expand their projects to meet global demand.
The winners, announced at MGM Music Hall in Boston, were:
— A women-founded startup offering cleaner-burning biomass stoves in Africa
— A British company that makes biodegradable packaging from seaweed
— A “greenhouse-in-a-box” concept developed to increase yields on small farms in India
— A technique for converting atmospheric carbon into rocks in Oman in the Middle East
— A women-led effort to create a new generation of indigenous rangers in Australia.
Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle, live in Boston, and Billie Eilish, performing from afar, provided the star power for the glittering show. The event also included videos narrated by naturalist David Attenborough and actress Cate Blanchett. The awards were presented by actor Rami Malek, comedian Catherine O’Hara and actress and activist Shailene Woodley.
The animators tried hard to help.
“It’s the biggest crisis of our lives and I appreciate what Prince William is doing,” Malek said before entering the venue. “And over the next 10 years, I think the impact will be overwhelming. And with these innovators being recognized tonight, we can truly make the biggest change.”
Prior to the event, William met with Biden privately for 30 minutes after the two shook hands and spoke briefly in the cold near the water outside the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum. As William walked down the steps in his suit, Biden, in a black winter coat, called out, “Where’s your overcoat?”
William also met Caroline Kennedy, the Ambassador to Australia and the late President’s daughter. William toured the museum with Kennedy and told her her father was “the man who inspired our mission.”
William and his wife Kate previously attended a welcome Wednesday at City Hall and then a Boston Celtics game before the royal couple spent much of Thursday learning about the threats of climate change and the solutions in the works.
William succeeded to the throne with the death of his grandmother, the Queen, less than three months ago, but he has already been crowned Britain’s foremost environmentalist. This was evident during the visit to Boston, which was praised for raising awareness of pollution and climate change and the need to scale up solutions.
“I just appreciate that they’re using the platform and the public to raise awareness of meaningful climate work,” said Joe Christo, executive director of the Stone Living Lab, which researches nature-based approaches to climate adaptation and was among those the royal couple met in Boston Harbor on Thursday .
“I know his father is a big environmentalist,” he said. “He seems to be doing a great job of continuing that legacy.”
William is following in the footsteps of his environmentally conscious grandfather Prince Philip – Queen Elizabeth II’s late husband – and more recently his father and Elizabeth’s successor, King Charles III.
For decades, William’s father, in his former capacity as Prince, was one of Britain’s most prominent environmental voices – blasting the evils of pollution. Last year, he stood before world leaders at a UN climate conference in Scotland and suggested that the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss are no different than those posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Now that he is king, Charles is expected to be more careful about his words and, in accordance with the traditions of Britain’s constitutional monarchy, to stay out of politics and government policy. This year he did not attend the UN climate conference, which was held in Egypt.
The caution offers William an opportunity to take on that role as the royal family’s environmental advocate and speak more forcefully about the issues once associated with his father.
There is no better example than the Earthshot Prize.
“It’s a big deal for Prince William,” said Joe Little, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. “He knows he can get the attention of the most important people. That’s really the essence of the Boston trip.”
William and Kate got a first-hand look at some of the latest innovations at a green technology startup incubator called Greentown Labs in Somerville. Among them were solar-powered autonomous boats and low-carbon cement.
“Climate change is a global issue, which is why it’s so important for world leaders to speak out about the importance of taking action,” said Lara Cottingham, vice president of strategic policy and climate impact at Greentown Labs.
The couple’s first trip to the United States since 2014 is part of the royal family’s effort to transform its international image. After Elizabeth’s death, Charles made it clear that his monarchy would be a slimmed-down monarchy, with less pageantry and celebration than her predecessors. William and Kate arrived in Boston on a British Airways commercial flight.
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