I have spent the past 25 years working for a more sustainable world. I have campaigned to save endangered species and to protect the rainforest; for stronger pollution controls, standards for greener products and laws to cut emissions of climate-changing gases.
For 18 of those years I worked for Friends of the Earth, including six as its UK director. I took companies and government departments to court, protested at international summits, organised campaigns to challenge companies who were abusing the environment. I mobilised local groups to urge prime ministers to act and was more than once detained by police forces around the world.
Looking back, it was all worth it. This past quarter of a century has seen some amazing progress. My work used to feel decidedly fringe, but now it is firmly in the mainstream. The momentum for greener living now seems unstoppable. Only last week, ministers set out an ambitious programme to slash CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020. A big part of the delivery of this first round of cuts — we need to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 — will fall on householders. It seems our country’s 26m or so homes will be at the front line of green action, and there will be new inducements to encourage us all to do our bit.
These days, I work as a special adviser for the Prince’s Rainforests Project, and am employed on a consultancy basis by the University of Cambridge and international companies on how to be more sustainable. This week, I will start writing the Greenhouse Effects column here in the Sunday Times Home section. I will try to make sense of some of the choices available for greener living and offer practical advice on how to make a difference — and, where possible, save money.