William tells young people to ‘demand change’ at first Earthshot Prize

David Attenborough, Ed Sheeran and Mo Salah among celebrities to walk the green carpet

Peter Stubley
Monday 18 October 2021 01:07
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive at Earthshot Prize ceremony

The Duke of Cambridge vowed to “find the solutions to repair our planet” as the first ever winners of the Earthshot Prize were announced at an awards ceremony attended by Dame Emma Thompson and Liverpool FC striker Mo Salah.

Prince William was joined on stage by Kate Middleton as he urged young people not to “give up hope” and to “keep demanding change” to tackle the climate crisis.

Five innovative green projects from across the globe won £1m each at the event, which was televised by the BBC. Among the winners were projects restoring coral reefs, redistributing unwanted food to the disadvantage and a project battling the issues contributing to air pollution in India.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson, wearing a wedding dress made of 10 dresses from Oxfam, and Dame Emma Thompson were among those who trod the ceremony's green carpet at Alexandra Palace.

Kate arrived wearing an Alexander McQueen dress made for her in 2011, while her husband wore a dark green velvet blazer and a polo neck which co-host Dermot O'Leary later jokingly described as "looking very Bond".

Guests were asked by organisers to "consider the environment when choosing their outfit" for the awards inspired by the Apollo moon landings, nicknamed Moonshot, which helped advance mankind's technological achievements.

The event was launched by Coldplay who pre-recorded their performance, which was powered by 60 people pedalling bicycles, and Ed Sheeran later took to the stage to entertain the audience.

Kate presented the winning award in the protect and restore nature category to the government of Costa Rica, which has pioneered a project paying local citizens to restore natural ecosystems.

David Attenborough on stage at the awards ceremony

She said: "Nature is vital to us all. A thriving natural world, regulates our planet, nurtures our physical and mental health and helps feed our families.

"But for too long, we've neglected our wild spaces and now we're facing a number of tipping points.

"If we don't act now, we will permanently destabilise our planet and we will rob our children of the future they deserve."

Salah presented the first Earthshot Prize in the ‘Revive our oceans’ category, to the Coral Vita project which grows coral on land to replant in oceans, giving new life to dying ecosystems.

Watson awarded the Fix our climate prize to AEM Electrolyser technology which turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas.

Ed Sheeran performs on stage at the Earthshot Prize awards

The Harry Potter star said: "I've spent much of my working life, acting in fictional make believe worlds where the impossible, can be made possible.

"Now, we need to do the same thing with climate change here in the real world.

"There have been many other times in history where it's been said something couldn't be done, and then, people believed in a better world and made it so. (This) time is no different, I know that we can."

Dame Emma Thompson presented the award for Build a waste-free world to the city of Milan for its food waste project.

After having trouble with her microphone when she came to the stage, she joked: "I broke my mike by dropping it down the lav".

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the ceremony in “recycled” clothes

Later William spoke to the winners via a video call alongside Kate. He said: "I am so proud of you. Everyone here is amazed by the solutions.

"Real positivity and the fact it is solutions based keeps people smiling and feeling hopeful."

At the end of the event William took to the stage to tell the audience: “I want to say something to the young watching tonight.

“For too long, we haven’t done enough to protect the planet for your future, the Earthshot is for you. In the next 10 years, we are going to act.

“We are going to find the solutions to repair our planet. Please keep learning, keep demanding change, and don’t give up hope. We will rise to these challenges.”

Next year’s event will be held in the US.

Press Association

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in