By Callie Brauer, Conservation Working Group
In December 2022, Boston was honored to be the site of the Second Annual Earthshot Prize presentation. This is an award sponsored by Britain's Royal Foundation and is an annual prize given to five winners each year for contributions to improving the environment. Prize money of one million pounds (sterling) is awarded to the winner in each of five categories.
The Earthshot Prize began in 2021 and will continue to 2030. Britain's Prince and Princess of Wales are the leaders of the foundation and were in Boston to present the prizes.
Category 1: FIX OUR CLIMATE
In the first category, FIX OUR CLIMATE, the prize was awarded to the Omani-based company 44.01. This company has created a technology to reduce carbon in the atmosphere by taking CO2 out of the air and injecting it into peridotite in the ground, accelerating the creation of rock. (For more, go to https://4401.earth/).
Finalists in category 1 included Lanzatech, a company that converts carbon into ethanol, which can be then used as sustainable fuel, packaging and textiles (lanzatech.com), and Low Carbon Materials, a UK-based company that creates additives to cement from reusable products (www.lowcarbonmaterials.com).
Category 2: CLEAN OUR AIR
In the second category, CLEAN OUR AIR, the winner was Mukuru clean Stoves, a Nairobi-based company that develops clean stoves from recycled materials. These stoves replace traditional charcoal-burning stoves that create pollution and danger in the home (https://mukurustoves.org/).
Finalists in this category were Roam Motors, another African-based company creating electric transportation that replaces CO2 emitting vehicles (www.roammotors.com) and Amphd Energy from Hong Kong, which has created a product called Enertainer which is an all-electric energy storage system that powers construction equipment (www.ampd.energy).
Category 3: BUILD A WASTE FREE WORLD
In the third category, BUILD A WASTE FREE WORLD, the winner was Notpla, a London based company creating sustainable packaging from seaweed, including bottles, food wrapping and paper for the cosmetic industry (www.notpla.com).
Finalists were an Indian company called Phool, which has created a sustainable alternative to leather called Fleather (https://phool.co) and the City of Amsterdam, which has committed to creating a circular economy. By 2050, the city plans to waste nothing and recycle everything.
Category 4: PROTECT AND RESTORE NATURE
In the fourth category, PROTECT AND RESTORE NATURE, the winner was Kheyti, an Indian company creating modular greenhouses for small-hold commercial farming. Plants in greenhouses require 98% less water and the yield is about seven times greater (www.kheyti.com).
The finalists were Desert Agriculture Transformation, a company based in China that has created technology that turns desert sand into soil (cqjtu.edu.cn/en/Research/Research_Programs.htm), and Hutan, a company based in Malaysia creating safe passageways for wildlife (www.hutan.org.my).
Category 5: REVIVE OUR OCEANS
In the final category, REVIVE OUR OCEANS, the winner was the Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network. This Australian company is training generations of indigenous women to manage land and sea conservation (https://qiwrn.com.au/).
Finalists were Seaforester, a Portuguese company creating solutions to climate change and building kelp forests (www.seaforester.org) and Dutch company Great Bubble Barrier, which developed a product that intercepts plastic pollution in rivers before it can reach the ocean (www.thegreatbubblebarrier.com).
Clearly there is a huge international effort to clean up our planet. The efforts of all these companies and organizations are amazing. While most of these companies are in the early stages, we hope their impact is felt around the world.
For more on the Earthshot Prize, click on earthshotprize.org.