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Prince William blows up billionaire space race, urges focus on saving Earth

LONDON – Prince William delivered an apparent blow during the billionaires’ space race on Thursday, saying the world’s greatest minds should focus more on saving Earth than looking beyond the horizons of our planet.

In a BBC interview broadcast Thursday morning, the Duke of Cambridge warned of a “rise in climate anxiety” among young people around the world whose “future is fundamentally threatened” by the climate crisis.

“We need some of the greatest brains and minds in the world determined to try to fix this planet, not to try to find the next place to go to live,” said William, 39.

A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge told NBC News they had nothing more to add.

The royal’s comments came just a day after “Star Trek” actor William Shatner became the oldest person to go to space, traveling aboard the Blue Origin rocket and capsule developed by the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Shatner and three other crew members drove Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket to the edge of space on Wednesday.LM Otero / AP

The actor, who said the trip had left him “filled with emotion,” had previously allayed concerns about billionaires like Bezos, Elon Musk and British tycoon Richard Branson using their wealth to invest in space travel instead. than investing in social causes.

The trio compete to usher in a new era of commercial space travel with rival business ventures.

“It’s their money,” he told NBC News in an interview in July. “They can do whatever they want with it.”

Bezos, the richest man in the world, described his own inaugural space flight as part of building a road to space “so that our children and their children can build a future.”

“We have to do this to solve the problems here on Earth,” he said in July.

But William advocated a more grounded approach. It is “crucial to focus on this [planet] rather than giving up and going into space to try to think of solutions for the future, ”he told the BBC.

William follows in the footsteps of his late grandfather Prince Philip and other members of the royal family by focusing on the environment.WPA Pool / Getty Images

William pursued an active environmental program as part of his royal duties, as did other members of the Royal Family.

Her father, Prince Charles, did decades of environmental work.

“It has been a difficult road for him. He’s had a really tough ride on that, and I think he’s proven he’s way ahead of the curve, ”William told the BBC.

The Duke said it would be an “absolute disaster” if his own son, Prince George, was “sitting here talking” about saving the planet in 30 years.

William created the Earthshot Prize, which aims to find solutions to the planet’s problems through new technologies or policies. The top five winners, who will each receive $ 1.4 million, will be announced at a ceremony on Sunday.

The interview also comes as world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of the month for COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family will attend the summit, which has been touted as a landmark in the fight against the global climate.

“We can’t have smarter speech, smarter words but not enough action,” said William.

But US climate envoy John Kerry tempered expectations for the conference, conceding in an Associated Press interview published on Thursday that talks will likely end with countries still below their emission reduction targets. .

Reuters contributed to this report.