Exclusive interview: Jonathon Porritt


Britain’s most influential green thinker tells Alicia Buller why he’s staying positive on climate change.

Jonathon Porritt is a man who has spent the best part of four decades ensconced in the colourful business of trying to protect our earth’s environment from the baddies. It hasn’t been easy – and it wouldn’t have been everyone’s choice.

Over the years his fierce opponents have included everyone from big business to politicians, to economists and, well, everyone really.

But things are different these days. The fight is not quite so tough. Today’s numerous scientific reports ­– bleak and credible in equal measure – have all but silenced even the most radical of agenda-driven climate change deniers.

“Getting people to acknowledge that it’s a man-made crisis has taken a ridiculously long time. There comes a point when you cannot any longer ignore what is science is saying. It’s got stronger and stronger over the years,” Porritt says.

“Awareness hasn’t quite translated into the action we need, but it’s moving in the right direction.”

 Staying positive

In the 1970s, Porritt led the Ecology Party (now the Green Party) with aplomb, building up its membership from a few hundred to over 3,000. He also advocated a more professional organisation with more identifiable leaders; this success played no small part in the eventual surge of the Greens in this year’s UK General Election.

Fresh-faced party leader Natalie Bennett successfully gleaned over a million votes for the party in May – a record to date.

“Most people knew that their vote would not lead to the Green Party being elected but they were facing a dilemma. In the end, they got more than one million principled votes because we need to see green voices.”

The world he made

More than anything, Porritt is unapologetically positive about the future of the world. His most recent book, ‘The World We Made’ is written from the point of view of a young teacher, Alex May, from the perspective of 2050. He diarises all of the technological solutions that have been put in place in future to create an environmentally sound world. It’s a hopeful book that offers answers rather than problems.

“Writing the book made me more hopeful as I looked into the science around it. The science is getting more disturbing by the year, but it wasn’t until I looked at renewable energy and so on, that I saw that we already have everything we need and we don’t need a last-minute solution. I’m hopeful about businesses and faith leaders. But I am worried about politicians – they are useless.”

For the full and exclusive interview with Jonathon Porritt, see Salt’s next issue, out at UK newsagents from September 1.