Prince William: 'No choice but to succeed' with climate change

10 October 2020, 23:17

Prince William has said there is no choice but to succeed when tackling climate change
Prince William has said there is no choice but to succeed when tackling climate change. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Duke of Cambridge has warned that there is "no choice but to succeed" when tackling climate change over the next 10 years.

Prince William praised humanity's ability to solve and overcome monumental problems while recording a Ted Talk in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

He said he will remain optimistic in the face of adversity as he gave an address under the canopy of an oak tree in the castle grounds.

The future king said: "Over my grandmother's lifetime, the last 90 years or so, our impact has accelerated so fast that our climate, oceans, air, nature and all that depends on them are in peril.

"This oak has stood here for centuries but never has it faced a decade like this.

"We start this new decade knowing that it is the most consequential period in history. The science is irrefutable.

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Prince William | This decade calls for Earthshots to repair our planet | TED Talks

"If we do not act in this decade, the damage that we have done will be irreversible and the effects felt not just by future generations, but by all of us alive today.

"How can we hope to fix such massive, intractable problems? It may seem overwhelming, but it is possible.

"Humans have an extraordinary capacity to set goals and strive to achieve them."

William spoke as part of the launch of Countdown, a global campaign to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Other notable speakers at the event included Pope Francis, Al Gore and Jane Fonda.

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It comes after the duke rolled out an ambitious Nobel-style £50 million Earthshot Prize on Thursday.

The worldwide competition aims to encourage the public, scientists, businesses and even cities to come up with ideas and technologies to "repair our planet" within 10 years.

During the Ted Talk, the prince told viewers he has long been inspired by US president John F Kennedy's 1961 "moonshot mission" to land a man on the moon within a decade.

He said: "In taking that giant leap for mankind, the team behind the moonshot united millions of people around the world in awe that this crazy ambition wasn't so crazy after all - and along the way it helped the invention of breathing equipment, CAT scanners and solar panels.

"But now, rather than a moonshot for this decade - we need "earthshots".

"We must harness that same spirit of human ingenuity and purpose and turn it with laser-sharp focus and urgency on the most pressing challenge we have ever faced - repairing our planet."

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The Duke of Cambridge set out five goals that he hoped would be ticked off within 10 years: protecting and restoring nature, cleaning the air, reviving the oceans, building a waste-free world and fixing the climate.

William said the global response to the coronavirus pandemic was an example of what can be done when people in power come together and act.

"We've built hospitals overnight, repurposed factories, poured billions into the search for a vaccine and better treatments, and we've been inspired by heroes emerging in every community across the world," he said.

The duke concluded: "I'm determined to both start and end this decade as an optimist.

"Whilst our generation represents just a blip in the lifetime of these magnificent oaks, we have the power and potential to ensure that they, and all life on earth, thrive for another thousand years and more.

"But only if we now unleash the greatest talents of our generation to repair our planet. We have no choice but to succeed."