NORMALLY I run a mile whenever a celebrity tells me to do anything. But in Prince William’s case I’m happy to make an exception.
This week he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, and his father, the Prince of Wales, in nailing his colours to the environmental mast. The Duke of Cambridge did not deliver a patronising woke lecture, which, as his brother Harry knows, is easy. Instead, he made a hard-hitting documentary calling for the same global effort to fight climate change as we have seen with Covid.
He’s right. Whatever the final death toll from the pandemic, it will pale compared with the relentless, long-term impact of climate change.
Two years ago the World Health Organization declared: “Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.”
If true, and Doomsday predictions are often over the top, that will be a death toll of five million in 20 years. And climate change won’t suddenly stop in 2050. Yet politicians, with eyes on short-term electoral cycles, obsess about coronavirus and dither about climate change.
William has gone a step further, announcing his £50million Earthshot Prize, which offers £5million a year for a decade for solutions to “repair the planet”.
Already dubbed the Noble Prize, it tacitly acknowledges one stark fact: politicians cannot be relied on to fix this mess. Our best bet is technology.
The Duke is keeping up a family tradition of genteel eco-activism. No sit-ins or chaining themselves to the barricades for the royals. Prince Philip was one of the founders of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961, alongside green greats such as Sir Peter Scott, the founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Sir David Attenborough and Prince William are passionate about ecology (Image: Kensington Palace/The Earthshot Prize/PA Wire)
Critics will point to the Duke of Edinburgh bagging a tiger in India in the same year and his love of shooting grouse. But his interest in nature was taken up with gusto by Prince Charles.
The Prince of Wales has been ahead of the game on green issues for decades, pioneering organic farming when it was dismissed as a fad. And only last month he warned that the global environmental crisis will “dwarf” the damage wreaked by coronavirus.
Along the way William’s privileged position has given him access to environmental giants such as Sir David Attenborough who, for a 93-year-old, has been hyperactive warning about the dangers facing the world.
William has been soaking up these influences for his entire life. He could have reacted against it but has instead embraced it. Now he has firmly taken the baton from his father to do his bit to save the planet.
But, many will say, why should we listen to Prince William? It’s easy for him to wag his finger. Unlike the rest of us, he’s never had to worry where next month’s rent will come from.
In a way, this is his strength. Precisely because he does not have the same everyday worries as the rest of us, he can take a step back and consider one of the greatest threats of our time.
Moreover, he has witnessed climate change himself. Back in Blighty, apart from recordbreaking hot summers and wet winters, which can always be dismissed as natural events, the impact of man-made climate change can be hard to prove.
But William and Kate have seen it in progress first hand, from the melting glaciers of the Himalayas in Pakistan’s Hindu Kush to the rising sea levels threatening island states such as Tuvalu in the South Pacific and on to the droughts of Africa.
William does not pretend to be an expert. His role is merely to facilitate experts.
He is like most of us in one key respect. He is a father, proud of his three nature-mad children. He shares the wish of every parent to leave the children a healthy world to live in.https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/widgets/established/general?fixedheight&webexpressnews&theme=express
William’s Earthshot Prize also hits on a vital need in tackling the environmental crises facing the world: hope.
Even he admitted that young Prince George was upset by Sir David’s documentary about extinction, and had told him: “I don’t want to watch this any more.”
That is a big danger. If all we ever hear about the environment is that we are going to hell in a handcart, everyone will give up. So William is doing his best to encourage the brightest and the best to find solutions.
He told Sky News: “This is me putting my stamp on what I can do in my position to really galvanise and increase the interest and tackle some of these issues and drive a decade of change to help repair the planet.”
I wish him luck.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK