Environment

Prince William says fixing climate change more important than space tourism

Prince William's comments come as Hollywood actor William Shatner becomes the oldest person to go into space.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Demo-2 launch in May 2020. Image: Daniel Oberhaus (2020) (CC BY 2.0)

Elon Musk's SpaceX Demo-2 launch in May 2020. Image: Daniel Oberhaus (2020) (CC BY 2.0)

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has said wealthy businessmen should focus on ways to solve climate change rather than engaging in space tourism projects. 

The prince spoke to the BBC ahead of the first Earthshot Prize, which looks to reward people with big ideas for saving the planet from catastrophic climate change. 

Speaking about the current space race and the drive to promote space tourism, William said: “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live.

“I think that ultimately is what sold it for me – that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future.”

His comments come as Hollywood actor William Shatner became the oldest person to go into space this week, jetting off in a capsule built by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. 

The duke told Adam Fleming of BBC newscast that he had “absolutely no interest” in going to space, pointing out that there was a “fundamental question” over the carbon cost of space flights.

The prince also touched on the rise in “climate anxiety” among young people due to their “futures basically being threatened the whole time”.

“It’s very unnerving and it’s very, you know, anxiety making,” he said.

The prince launched the Earthshot Prize last year, offering five prizes of £1m to people offering exciting solutions to the climate crisis, with winners to be announced in late October.

William is not the only royal to have expressed concerns over the environment, with his father, Prince Charles, having spoken publicly about climate change for a number of years.

In the interview, William said his father had a “rough ride” when warning about climate change, adding: “It’s been a hard road for him.”

He said Charles was inspired by his own father, the late Duke of Edinburgh, who “talked about climate change a lot more, very early on, before anyone else thought it was a topic”.

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