Childhood friends in Oman who worked out out how to turn carbon dioxide into rock, stoves to reduce pollution, help for Indian farmers, oceanic protection and a seaweed alternative to plastic were the five projects to receive an Earthshot Prize this year.
The annual awards were created by the UK’s heir to the throne, Prince William, to fund projects that aim to save the planet. Each winner received £1m (AED4.5m) to develop their innovation on Friday at an awards ceremony in Boston, USA.
‘I believe that the Earthshot solutions you have seen this evening prove we can overcome our planet’s greatest challenges,’ Prince William said during the ceremony. ‘By supporting and scaling them we can change our future.’
The winning projects are based in Oman, Kenya, India, Australia, and the UK.
This is the second set of Earthshot Prizes awarded and the name refers to the ‘Moonshot’ ambition of 1960s America by then-President John F Kennedy, who pledged to get a man on the Moon within a decade.
The five Earthshots are: Fix our Climate, Clean our Air, Protect and Restore Nature, Revive our Oceans, and Build a Waste-Free World
Earthshot Prize Winners
Fix our Climate: 44.01, Oman – Created by childhood friends who have developed an innovative technique to turn CO2 into rock, and permanently store it underground. Talal Hasan’s project turns the gas into peridotite, a rock that is found in abundance both in Oman and globally, including the US, Europe and Asia. It offers a low-cost and safe alternative to traditional methods of storing carbon, such as burying it underground in disused oil wells.
Clean our Air: Mukuru Clean Stoves, Kenya – A start-up providing cleaner-burning stoves to reduce unhealthy indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook. It produces stoves that are fired by processed biomass made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane instead of solid fuels, which can lead to air pollution and accidents that claim four million lives each year.
Protect and Restore Nature: Kheyti, India – A pioneering solution for local smallholder farmers to reduce costs, increase yields and protect livelihoods in a country on the frontlines of climate change. Kaushik Kappagantulu’s Greenhouse-in-a-Box helps small-hold farmers protect their crops from extreme weather and pests, in a country that has been severely impacted by climate change.
Revive our Oceans: Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – A women led programme that combines 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea. It has trained over 60 women in both traditional and digital ocean conservation methods.
Build a Waste-free World: Notpla, UK– A circular solution creating an alternative to plastic packaging from seaweed. Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez have been able to create natural, bio-degradable plastic made out of seaweed. The company made more than one million takeaway food boxes for the food delivery platform Just Eat this year
They were chosen from a list of 15 finalists by a panel that includes Prince William, Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett, footballer Dani Alves, Fijian activist Ernest Gibson and singer Shakira.
Hasan, founder of 44.01 said: ‘We started 44.01 two years ago because we saw the very real impact of climate change here in Oman.Winning the Earthshot Prize will help us scale our solution around the world, and ultimately eliminate billions of tonnes of CO2. Climate change is the greatest challenge we have ever faced but being part of this amazing group of finalists give us hope.’
Magayi, the CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves, said 200,000 households in Kenya have had access to her product since she launched the business in 2017.
‘The Earthshot Prize is going to help us reach one million households,’ she said.
Paslier, co-founder of the London-based Notpla, said the project started eight years ago in a student kitchen.
‘We would have never imagined we would be here today. No one wants to live in a world full of plastic waste but it’s not too late to act,’ he added
Prince William and Princess of Wales Catherine handed out awards to the winners during a star-studded ceremony – with celebrities there including Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding, and David Beckham.
The Prince told the audience: ‘The innovators, leaders, and visionaries that make up our 2022 Earthshot Finalists prove there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our planet.
‘They are directing their time, energy, and talent towards bold solutions with the power to not only solve our planet’s greatest environmental challenges, but to create healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come.
‘I am so excited to celebrate these fifteen Finalists and see the five Winners of The Earthshot Prize announced in Boston – the hometown of President John F. Kennedy, who shared The Earthshot Prize’s belief that seemingly impossible goals are within reach if we only harness the limitless power of innovation, human ingenuity, and urgent optimism.’
On the foundation of the prize Prince William said: ‘The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth’.