Prince William bemoans lack of 'political will' to tackle climate change

Victoria Ward
·3 min read
Prince William has spoken about the Earthshot Prize - Kensington Palace
Prince William has spoken about the Earthshot Prize - Kensington Palace

The Duke of Cambridge has criticised the lack of “political will” to tackle the environment, revealing that he gets “outraged” by the inaction, which keeps him awake at night.

As the Duke outlined his plans for the Earthshot Prize, a £50million global environmental award designed to encourage progress over the next ten years, he warned that it was time to “stop talking” and collecting data and to get on with creating change.

He told the Outrage + Optimism climate change podcast that there had always been a “very careful and slightly pessimistic approach” to the issue and a lot of discussion about what was wrong, yet very little action.

“Everyone knows this is where we’re headed and these are the important issues we need to tackle,” he said.

“I think getting to those in the political world with the will to tackle things is another story.”

The Duke praised the younger generation and figureheads such as Greta Thunberg, for spearheading a new “groundswell of opinion” by voicing concerns about the environment.

Prince William and Sir David Attenborough discuss the Earthshot Prize at Kensington Palace - Kensington Palace
Prince William and Sir David Attenborough discuss the Earthshot Prize at Kensington Palace - Kensington Palace

But he added: “If younger generations are up in arms about their future then I think the politicians and the political will should be there to listen and to act on what they are saying.”

Asked what outraged him about climate change, the Duke replied: “I get outraged by the inaction.

“That’s probably a bit of a cliche but that is what I get most troubled about. Especially as I’m in a position of responsibility if you like, or leadership. I feel I can do a lot more if given that ability.

“So therefore I don’t understand why those who have the levers, don’t. That’s what really upsets me and keeps me awake at night.”

The sentiment echoes that of his father, the Prince of Wales, who said in 2018 that climate change kept him awake at night.

More than 100 nominating partners will next month begin submitting nominations for the individuals, communities, businesses and organisations whom they believe could win the Earthshot Prize.

Five winners will be announced annually throughout the coming decade, each winning £1m, and it is hoped that worldwide recognition for their work will inspire worldwide business and government collaboration.

The Duke said: “All the conversations have happened, the science has been out there, the science is irrefutable. 

“We have the data. So let’s stop talking about it, collecting data, and let's actually provide the action and I think that’s what's going to be really needed over these next ten years.”

He admitted that when he was growing up, he thought that “tackling things negatively” was the way forward, by highlighting things that needed change.

But he said he had realised that such an approach did not necessarily work and that trying to galvanise people with positivity and optimism was more engaging.

“There has been lots of calling out and, quite rightly, saying ‘these are the problems and this is what we’re going to face,’” he said. “But there has been very little, kind of, ‘well actually, we can fix this, we can provide those solutions and we can, as human beings, turn this around.’ 

“We don’t need to be staring down the barrel of a gun for the rest of our lives until real problems start to appear.”