Earthshot – for world’s environmental problems

Published October 12, 2020, 2:33 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Prince William of Britain, grandson and second-in-line to the throne after his father Prince Charles, launched Friday the Earthshot Project that will award five one-million-pound ($1.29-million) prizes a year for the next ten years for protecting and restoring nature, clean air, reviving oceans, waste reduction, and climate change.

The prizes will seek to stimulate worldwide efforts to solve the world’s worsening environmental problems. “By 2030, we really hope to have made huge strides in fixing some of the biggest problems the earth faces,” Prince William said. Nominations open on November 1 for the first awards which will be given out in autumn next year.

In three of the categories – protection and restoring nature, clean air, and waste reduction – individual nations would benefit from their own moves. Two would benefit the entire world:

• Projects for reviving oceans would benefit the many island nations around the world, including the Philippines, which are increasingly suffering from wastes of many nations pouring into the oceans, killing fish and other animal life, and turning so many areas into floating garbage dumps.

• Projects for climate change would benefit the entire planet. The most dangerous of industrial emissions, carbon dioxide, is causing the world’s temperature to rise, causing the polar icebergs to melt, raising ocean levels, and inundating low-lying islands.

The Global Carbon Project, established in 2001 to quantify global greenhouse emissions, said that between 1750 and 2018, the United States, released 397 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, followed by China with 214 billion, Russia with 180 billion Germany with 90 billion, United Kingdom with 77 billion, Japan with 58 billion. The industries may have been responsible for their development in these centuries but they also spewed huge amounts of carbon dioxide that raised temperatures that affected the entire planet.

Last month, in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping of China, now the planet’s biggest carbon emitter, made what was described as a “jaw-dropping” announcement – that China will start cutting its carbon emissions and end its net contribution to climate change before 2060. That may be a long way in the future – 40 years – but it is the first concrete goal set by any country.

United States President Donald Trump has rejected the Paris agreement on climate change while criticizing China for being the world’s largest source of carbon emissions today. It is hoped that China’s recent announcement of its goal of zero contribution to climate change will move the US and other nations to take action, like China, on their respective pollution.

The Earthshot Prize launched last Friday should stimulate governments and private industries around the world to take steps to solve the world’s great environmental problems and to start doing it now.