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Going outside the climate crisis square

You can’t help but marvel at the creative thinking of some people as they try to combat climate change.

What bigger opponent is there in life than Mother Nature herself? The sheer size of the task hasn’t deterred some of the world’s sharpest scientific minds as they come up with practical ideas to help clean up the planet.

This week in Singapore, the best of those innovative minds gathered for the Earthshot prize. Founded by the Prince of Wales, the organisation’s awards evening highlighted the many and varied solutions to tackle climate and biodiversity issues.

The key message was one of hope. For the many thousands of people around the world who have been crushed, in one way or another, by climate change this year, hope is about all they have left. Extreme heat this year underscores the importance of finding novel ways to, at the very least, lower carbon emissions. New record highs for heat in 2023 and global warming have driven unprecedented disasters, such as Canada’s wildfires and floods in Libya and Greece, to name just a few.

Five projects picked up a tidy sum of money for their efforts, but more importantly, some much-needed publicity that might eventually provide even more money to help fund their ventures. That publicity rides on the profile of Prince William, a global figure with more reach than most. Who knows, some uber-wealthy venture capitalists might make some initial enquiries, having seen the type of potential on show at Earthshot. They will want to make a dollar or two out of any investment they may make, but then, you can’t make a tiger change its stripes.

Prince William, eager to make the most of the spotlight, sought to ignite some fire within those watching. He said that people would one day “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.”

Stirring stuff.

His Royal Foundation launched the ambitious 10-year initiative in 2020, with the goal of funding 50 solutions to some of the planet’s most urgent environmental problems.

Among the five 2023 winners was a lithium-ion battery recycler.

Hong Kong-based GRST, which developed a new way to build and recycle vital lithium-ion batteries, won in the category of “Clean Our Air.”

Among the other winners in Singapore was WildAid Marine Program, which is scaling marine enforcement to end illegal fishing [a round of applause from this end of the globe]; S4S Technologies, which makes processing equipment to combat food waste; Acción Andina, a community-based initiative to protect native Andean forest ecosystems; and Boomitra, which aims to incentivise land restoration through a verified carbon-credit marketplace.

For a bit of extra punch, the biggest name in the environment zoomed in to take part in the awards ceremony. Sir David Attenborough, a member of the Earthshot Prize Council, appeared by video link to tell the audience, “we can live both well and responsibly on our planet”. A simple message we could all take on board.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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