The Duke of Cambridge has criticized space racing and space tourism, saying the world’s biggest minds should focus on trying to fix the Earth.
Prince William’s comments, in an interview with Newscast on BBC Sounds, will be broadcast the day after William Shatner made history by becoming the oldest person in the space.
The 90-year-old actor, known for his role as Captain James T Kirk in Star Trek, took off from the Texas desert on Tuesday in a rocket built by Blue Origin, the space travel company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The prince, who was interviewed about the climate crisis ahead of his Earthshot awards, said: “We need some of the world’s largest brains and minds to be set on trying to repair this planet, without trying to find the next place to live.”
He also warned attendees at the Cop26 summit, where world leaders will meet in Glasgow later this month, against “smart talking, smart words, but not enough action.”
“I think Cop’s communication is very clear and very honest what the problems are and what the solutions will be,” he said. “We can’t have smarter words, smart words, but not enough actions.”
William expressed concern about rising climate anxiety among young people and said it would be an “absolute disaster” if his eldest son, Prince George, had to talk about the same issue in 30 years, when it would be too late.
“We are seeing an increase in climate anxiety. Now young people are growing up where their future is basically threatened all the time. It is very disturbing and worrying,” he said.
He added that his father, the Prince of Wales, known for his long-standing commitment to environmental issues, had a “very hard journey” when he started talking about the climate crisis.
William, who was interviewed by news presenter Adam Fleming, said his late grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, had begun to take an interest in environmental issues.
He said of Charles: “It has been a hard road for him. My grandfather started helping WWF a long time ago with his work on nature and biodiversity, and I think my dad advanced on that and talked a lot more about climate change, very soon, before anyone thought which was an issue.
“So yeah, he’s had a really tough trip on that, and I think he’s been shown to be well ahead of the curve. Far beyond his time warning about some of those dangers.
“But it shouldn’t be that there’s a third generation now that needs to grow even more. And you know, for me, it would be an absolute disaster for George to be sitting here talking to you or your successor, Adam, let him know in 30 years, whatever it is, still saying the same thing, because then we will be too late. “
He added that his view had changed since he had children: “I want the things I’ve enjoyed – outdoor life, nature, the environment – I want my children to be there, and not just my children, but those of all the other children.
“If we are not careful, we will steal our children’s future with what we do now. And I don’t think it’s fair. “
William discussed his Earthshot award, saying it was about creating action.