The prince says great minds should focus “on trying to repair this planet” not exploring space.
Prince William has suggested entrepreneurs should focus on saving Earth rather than engaging in space tourism.
The Duke of Cambridge said great brains and minds should be “trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live”.
He also warned about a rise in “climate anxiety” among younger generations.
William spoke to the BBC’s Newscast ahead of the first Earthshot Prize to reward those trying to save the planet.
The prize’s name is a reference to the “moonshot” ambition of 1960s America, which saw then-President John F Kennedy pledge to get a man on the moon within a decade.
Speaking about the current space race and the drive to promote space tourism, William said: “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.
“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.”
On Wednesday, Hollywood actor William Shatner became the oldest person to go to space as he blasted off aboard the Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule developed by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk are also building up space businesses.
William told Newscast’s Adam Fleming he had “absolutely no interest” in going as high as space, adding there was a “fundamental question” over the carbon cost of space flights.
He warned there was “a rise in climate anxiety” among young people who whose “futures are basically threatened the whole time”.
“It’s very unnerving and it’s very, you know, anxiety making,” he said.
The father-of-three challenged adults to channel their inner child to “remember how much it meant to be outdoors and what we’re robbing those future generations of”.
William also said his father, Prince Charles, had a “rough ride” when warning about climate change, adding: “It’s been a hard road for him.”
He said Charles, inspired by his father, the late Duke of Edinburgh, “talked about climate change a lot more, very early on, before anyone else thought it was a topic”.
The duke added that “it would be an absolute disaster if [Prince] George is sat here talking” about saving the planet in 30 year’s time.
Five winners of the Earthshot Prize, each receiving £1m, will be announced in a ceremony later this month.
Newscast: the Prince William interview is broadcast on Thursday 14 October. You can watch it on BBC One and the News Channel. You can listen to it BBC Radio 5 Live and on BBC Sounds from 16:00 BST.