Five innovators were given a £1m prize to fight the climate crisis at the Prince of Wales’ Earthshot Awards on Friday. 

Queensland’s Indigenous women rangers were among those to receive the £1 million (US$1.2 million) prize at the Earthshot Awards on Friday.

Prince William announced the five winning projects at a star-studded ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts, attended by celebrities including Billie Eilish, David Beckham, and Rami Malek. The projects were selected from 30 finalists among five categories inspired by the main issues of climate change we need to tackle: nature degradation, air pollution, ocean die-off, waste, and atmospheric CO2. 

The Earthshot Prize – named after US president John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge in the 1960s to land a man on the Moon before the decade’s end – was launched by Prince William and David Attenborough in 2020 to find and support projects to fight climate change and tackle biodiversity emergencies.

2022 Winners

Among the Earthshot Awards 2022 winners was UK-based Notpla, a startup developing a natural and biodegradable, seaweed-based alternative to plastic packaging. “No one wants to live in a world full of plastic waste but it’s not too late to act. There’s never been a greater time to use natural solutions to solve the plastic challenge,“ co-founder and CEO Pierre Paslier said after winning. 

The Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has won the Revive Our Oceans category with its project to preserve the highly-threatened Great Barrier Reef. Their work brings together 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with modern tools and technologies, including drones that monitor coral changes, forest fires, and land degradation.

The largest and longest reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is among the coral reefs most affected by coral bleaching and climate change. While major efforts have since been put in place to reduce coral bleaching, the scale of mortality has proven difficult for the reef system to regrow and replenish.

44.01, an Oman-based company named after the molecular weight of carbon dioxide that removes CO2 permanently by mineralising it in peridotite, won the Fix Our Climate category. The money prize will help the company expand its operations internationally, enabling local mineralisation without requiring CO2 transportation. Its goal is to remove 1 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2040.  

Mukuru Clean Stoves, a start-up providing cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya was awarded £1 million for its contribution to tackling indoor pollution and providing a safer cooking replacement to charcoal, which every year results in several respiratory infections and burning accidents.  

“Mukuru Clean Stoves began as a solution to a problem that I had felt personally in my own life. Today, we have an opportunity to transform the lives of millions, with cheaper, safer and more sustainable cookstoves and fuels,” says founder and CEO Charlot Magayi.

The final category, Protect and Restore Nature, was won by Kheyti, a company providing sustainable greenhouses to small-hold farmers in India that offers shelter from unpredictable elements and destructive pests and requires significantly less water and fewer pesticides than outdoor plants with yields seven times higher. 

Featured image by Earthshot Prize

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