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Prince William rallies against climate denialism at Earthshot Prize

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Singapore: Prince William has issued a rallying cry against the forces of climate change denialism and defeatism at his annual Earthshot Prize for environmental innovation, where five winners from around the world were awarded $1.91 million.

The heir to the British throne was in Singapore on Tuesday night for the gala awards ceremony, at which Oscar-winning Australian actress Cate Blanchett was a presenter and high-profile attendees included former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Prince William, right, joins actress Cate Blanchett on the Earthshot Prize green carpet in Singapore on Tuesday night.Credit: Getty Images

In a speech at the event, Prince William said the achievements of the winners and finalists were a reminder that “the spirit of ingenuity and the ability to inspire change surrounds us all”.

“I choose to believe that future generations will look back on this decade as the point at which we globally took collective action for our planet … the moment we refused to accept the voices of denial and defeatism and instead became the architects of change towards a healthy and sustainable world,” he said.

“We owe it to the generations that will follow us to work together both for their future and for the future of our planet.”

This Earthshot winners were announced in five categories – protecting and restoring nature, clean air, reviving oceans, waste eradication and tackling climate change – with each receiving prize money of 1 million pounds ($1.91 million) and a year of technical support to assist in taking their projects to the next level.

The recipients were Accion Andina, a South American initiative to protect native forests in the Andes Mountains; Hong Kong-based GRST, which has developed a new way to build and recycle lithium batteries for electric cars; global non-profit WildAid Marine Program, for its efforts to combat illegal fishing; India’s S4S Technologies, whose solar-powered dryers and processing equipment help farmers preserve food; and US-headquartered Boomitra, for promoting land restoration on three continents with its soil carbon credits market.

Sea Forest, the Australian seaweed farming start-up that aims to play a major role in the reduction of methane emissions in cattle and other livestock, was one of the 15 finalists from more than 1100 nominations.

Sam Elsom, the founder of Sea Forest, is a former fashion designer.Credit: Adam Gibson

The Tasmanian company is growing the native Australian seaweed asparagopsis, which has been shown to dramatically lower methane production in cattle, turning it into a supplement to add to farming feed.

“I think I heard Bill Gates talk about it being the Nobel Prize of the environment. So it’s pretty exciting, super prestigious and obviously an amazing recognition of our work,” Sea Forest founder Sam Elsom said.

Former New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern has turned her focus to conservation since leaving politics.Credit: Getty Images

“We’re a very big team down in Tasmania so it’s just super exciting, particularly because we’re in a regional community and we’re on what I think is a global stage tonight.”

The competition was introduced in 2020 by Prince William’s Royal Foundation charity and Sir David Attenborough to support game-changing innovation and is marketed as the most prestigious environmental award in history.

The name of the awards was inspired by former United States president John F. Kennedy’s 1962 moonshot speech rallying the American public behind the Apollo space programme.

Wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin, son of the late Steve Irwin and among the award presenters in Singapore on Tuesday night, said his father would have embraced the Earthshot concept.

“He reached the world like no one else. He inspired an entire generation, the entire world. Earthshot is doing the exact same thing,” he said.

“This is a prize that is so massive … it’s a scale and a magnitude that we really haven’t seen before. And that’s exactly what Dad did in his day. He was bringing wildlife conservation to a scale that was a first for the world. If he was around today …. he’d be here tonight. He’d be in his khakis – there’s no way you would have gotten him in a suit – but he would have loved it, mate.”

Prince William also took part in a dragon boat race, spoke at a summit for his United for Wildlife organisation and was meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a four-day visit to Singapore.

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