Prince William says billionaires should put resources toward fighting climate change, not space race

Prince William
Posted at 1:47 PM, Oct 14, 2021

England's Prince William on Wednesday criticized the billionaires who are taking part in a private space race, saying that they could better spend their money protecting the world from climate change.

William made the comments while speaking with the BBC Newscast podcast.

"We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live," he said. "I think that ultimately is what sold it for me — that really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future."

William's comments went public a day after actor William Shatner became the oldest person ever to reach space when he and three others briefly flew 60 miles above the Earth aboard a Blue Origin rocket. The flight was the second human-crewed mission for the company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Bezos is currently in a private space race with fellow billionaires Elon Musk (the founder of SpaceX) and Richard Branson (the founder of Virgin Galactic). While Musk's SpaceX has landed valuable contracts with NASA, Bezos and Branson have both flew to the edge of space in their own spacecrafts earlier this year.

William, a former air ambulance helicopter pilot, told the BBC he has "absolutely no interest" in flying as high as space and added that he felt there were "fundamental" questions about the carbon emissions from rockets.

In speaking with CNN after his brief trip to space earlier this year, Bezos said he thought choosing between private space travel and fighting climate change was a false choice.

"We have to do both," he said. "You know, we have lots of problems here and now on Earth, and we need to work on those, and we always need to look to the future. We've always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both."

William, the second in line to the British crown, has taken on climate advocacy as part of his prominent role in the royal family.

He says he was inspired to do so by his father, Prince Charles. William told the BBC that his father "talked about climate change a lot more, very early on, before anyone else thought it was a topic."

William also said he hopes the world takes more action to stop climate change for the sake of his son, Prince George, and children everywhere.

Williams comments came just days before the Royal Foundation will announce the first five winners of its "Earthshot Prize." The winners — selected for their "simple but ambitious" climate goals and solutions for the planet — will receive a 1 million pound prize.