Jthere is no shortage of environmental problems to be solved. And today in Boston, Mass. – in a ceremony marked by celebrity appearances and calls for action from around the world – Prince William, through his Earthshot Prize, awarded more than $6 million to help accelerate five solutions for address issues of conservation, air quality, oceans, waste and climate change.
The annual Earthshot Prize, an independent charity founded by Prince William and the Royal Foundation in 2020, awards $1.2 million each to winners in the five categories. The initiative aims to bring the same level of urgency and ambition to today’s environmental challenges as John F. Kennedy’s “moonshot” space race challenge. (Marc and Lynne Benioff, owners and co-chairmen of TIME, were among the philanthropic supporters of the effort.)
Among the jury selecting this year’s prestigious awards are naturalist Sir David Attenborough, actress Cate Blanchett, musician Shakira and Christiana Figueres, former president of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The winners were selected from a pool of 15 finalists from 10 different countries and included, among others, grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting forests and conserving biodiversity, as well as start-ups exploring battery technology. clean and alternative leather derived from waste.
This year’s winning solutions “prove we can overcome our planet’s greatest challenges”, the Prince of Wales said at the ceremony. “And by supporting and developing them, we can change our future.”
Here are the 2022 Earthshot Prize winners:
Mukuru Clean Stoves tackles clean air in Kenya
Mukuru Clean Stoves is a women-founded business, made up mostly of women, that aims to bring cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 950 million people rely on highly polluting wood and charcoal for cooking, an estimated 1.67 billion by 2050. The startup was founded in 2017 by Charlot Magayi, who sold charcoal as fuel. in Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, and whose daughter was badly burned by a coal stove, prompting a search for a better solution. According to the company, the Mukuru stove emits 90% less pollution than cooking over an open fire, and 70% less pollution than using a traditional stove. Costing just $10, the stove is powered by biomass created from charcoal, wood, and sugarcane; fuel expenses are also half that of traditional sources.
Kheyti protects and restores nature in India
The start-up Kheyti has developed a “greenhouse in a box” to help the world’s estimated 570 million smallholder farmers protect their crops from unpredictable weather and pests, two challenges made worse by climate change. According to the company, its modular greenhouses are 90% cheaper than standard greenhouses, use drip irrigation to help use 98% less water than outdoor crops, and can increase yields sevenfold compared to to typical farming methods. With the training provided by Kheyti, farmers are able to double their income, according to the company. So far, some 1,000 farms use the greenhouses; by 2027, the company hopes to reach 50,000 farmers.
Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network helps revive Australia’s oceans
Australia’s Indigenous Rangers work to protect the Great Barrier Reef from storms and ocean acidification, as well as terrestrial environments from wildfires and degradation. Yet in Queensland, Australia, only 20% of those rangers are women. Over the past four years, the Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has helped train more than 60 women to combine modern conservation techniques, such as the use of drones, with the sharing of traditional knowledge. The data collected by this network provides vital information on ecosystems in order to better protect them. The organization’s hope is to gain enough support to help spread these conservation methods around the world.
Notpla’s circular waste solution in the UK
Looking for an alternative to fossil fuel-based plastics? London-based start-up Notpla (short for “not plastic”) was launched in 2019 by Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Carcia Gonzalez, who both studied in an Innovation Design Engineering program jointly run by Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art. Together they created biodegradable algae-based packaging for everything from liquids to food. Notpla is tackling environmental issues on two fronts: firstly, its eco-friendly alternative to plastic can help make a dent in the estimated 6.3 tonnes of plastic waste that currently clutters the streets and seas around the world, and secondly, algae on which the product is based can capture carbon 20 times faster than trees. So far, Notpla has provided over one million takeaway containers to JustEatTakeaway.com, a global online food delivery marketplace.
Project 44.01 in Oman turns CO2 into rock
This Oman-based start-up takes its name from the molecular weight of carbon dioxide: 44.01 grams per mole. In an effort to reduce the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, 44.01 sucks CO2 from the atmosphere using direct air capture technology, dissolves it into the atmosphere. water, then pumps the resulting carbonated water into underground veins of peridotite—an igneous rock formed from the Earth’s mantle, where it is stored in a process known as mineralization. Their system is powered by energy derived from heat, sunlight and biofuels. Founded by Talal Hasan, 44.01’s first project in Oman, home to the world’s largest concentration of peridotite, will mineralize 1,000 metric tons of CO2 each year through 2024, emissions equivalent to driving 215 gasoline-powered cars for a year. It also hopes to expand internationally and store 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2040.
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