Psychedelic rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have won the inaugural Environmental Music Prize, which honours Australian songwriters and musicians who inspire action on climate and conservation and “move billions of people from apathy to action.”

The genre-bending rockers beat 23 prize finalists, including Briggs, Lime Cordiale and Paul Kelly. 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's 2020 song “If Not Now, Then When?” and accompanying music video snagged the award. The song, written after Australia's 2019 Black Summer bushfires, includes the lyrics; "if not now, then when? When the forest's nearly gone? When the hole's in the ozone? When the bees are gone?"

The music video shows an animated, post-apocalyptic world that eventually disappears entirely.

"We need actual, real, tangible action from our leaders, otherwise, what are they there for?” frontman Stu Mackenzie explained after receiving the accolade. “Why are we not doing everything we humanly can to right our wrongs? When we’re literally on fire, why not now? If not now, then when?”

The award was open to any Australian citizen who had released original work in the previous five years.

A shortlisting committee made up of artists and creatives, as well as music and environmental partners, selected the finalists. A public vote from over 7,000 people across 58 nations subsequently selected King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard as the winner.

The band has said it will donate the AU$20,000 winnings to nature protection organisation The Wilderness Society.

Proud Djugun woman Nidala Baker, meanwhile, took home the prize's Emerging Environmental Songwriter award for her collaboration on “Our Song with The Tambah Project, an initiative that works to link music and storytelling to environmental sustainability. 

All song profits have been dedicated to biodiversity support and education organisation, Wild Ark.

The power of music to inspire collective action is something Global Citizen truly values. 

That’s why Global Citizen has a Rewards program that incentivises and thanks Global Citizens for taking action by offering tickets to the world’s hottest concerts, and sustainable goodies like clothing and homewares. Global Citizen’s festival events, which have seen performances from artists like Beyoncè, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna and Coldplay, are another way Global Citizen works to unite pop and policy in the mission to end extreme poverty.

Thanks to musicians lending their voice, the actions of Global Citizens, tireless policy and advocacy work, and partners, Global Citizen has helped mobilise the distribution of US$41 billion, impacting 1.15 billion lives to date.


Defend the Planet

Rock Band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Win First-Ever Environmental Music Prize

By Madeleine Keck