New York City – In the face of deadly extreme weather events, record-breaking temperatures, and escalating carbon pollution levels, Britain’s Prince William, along with billionaire entrepreneurs Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, delivered a message of hope and optimism to a gathering of leaders and influencers at the upscale Plaza Hotel. This summit served as the platform for announcing the finalists of Prince William’s third annual Earthshot Prize, offering five awards of £1 million ($1.2 million) each to companies and organizations pioneering innovative solutions to combat climate change.
Prince William emphasized the power of optimism and hope as drivers of change and innovation, acknowledging the importance of realistic concerns about the state of Earth’s climate. He urged people to believe in the potential for positive change, stating, “There is hope; there are people out there doing incredible things that will have massive impacts on our futures.”
The Earthshot Summit showcased 15 diverse finalists from around the world, highlighting initiatives aimed at reducing air pollution in London through innovative vehicle tire solutions, curbing livestock methane emissions via new seaweed feedstocks, and employing DNA technology for more sustainable textile dyes.
During his visit to New York City, Prince William also took a moment to connect with nature, revealing that he had enjoyed a morning jog in Central Park. In a video shared on social media, he expressed his delight at the sunny weather and the opportunity to get some fresh air.
The summit’s speakers emphasized the transformative potential of technology in addressing climate change. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder turned philanthropist, spoke about the significant innovations that have taken place since 2015, underscoring the positive impact these advancements can have on the fight against climate change. Gates highlighted last year’s Earthshot Prize winner, a company exploring methods to safely store carbon dioxide using rock-like resources, which could help reduce temperature rises if achieved at a cost-effective scale.
Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen discussed the financial aspects of climate change, focusing on the concept of “net-zero investments” that exclude funding for industries and firms emitting heat-trapping gases. Yellen introduced “Principles for Net-Zero Financing and Investment,” outlining best practices for financial institutions committed to achieving net-zero goals. She also announced a pledge of $340 million from philanthropic organizations, including the Bezos Earth Fund and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to support financial institutions in developing and executing robust net-zero commitments.
Prince William concluded his visit to New York City by visiting firefighters at FDNY Ten House, the station that responded first to the World Trade Center on 9/11. He greeted people lined up to see him, engaging in brief conversations and shaking hands with well-wishers.
The Earthshot Summit, inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s moonshot effort, offered a vision of a world capable of addressing climate change through innovation, technology, and global collaboration.