Jonathon Porritt

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Jonathon Porritt

The Hon. Sir Jonathon Espie Porritt, 2nd Baronet, CBE (born 6 July 1950), is a British environmentalist and writer, perhaps best known for his championing of Green issues and his advocacy of the Green Party of England and Wales. Porritt appears frequently in the media, writing in magazines, newspapers and books, and appearing on radio and television regularly. He has also written a number of books on Green issues. His newest title, The World We Made (Alex McKay's story from 2050) was launched in October 2013.

Early life and family background[edit]

Porritt was born in London, the son of The Rt. Hon. The Lord Porritt, 11th Governor-General of New Zealand. Lord Porritt, who served as a senior officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, was also the bronze medalist in the Olympic Chariots of Fire 100 metres race. As well as receiving a life peerage, Lord Porritt had previously been awarded a baronetcy. Jonathon Porritt is entitled to claim the baronetcy, becoming The Hon. Sir Jonathon Porritt, 2nd Baronet, but has so far declined to do so.[1] He has two daughters.[2]


Porritt was educated at Wellesley House School,[3] Broadstairs, Kent, Eton College, and Magdalen College, University of Oxford.

Early career[edit]

Despite training as a barrister, Porritt decided to become an English teacher at St Clement Danes Grammar School (later Burlington Danes School) in Shepherd's Bush, West London, in 1974.

Political and campaigning career[edit]

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Porritt was a prominent member of the Ecology Party. As chair of the UK Ecology Party (now the Green Party) from 1978 to 1984, he presided over changes that made the party much more prominent in elections. Under his stewardship, membership grew from a few hundred to around 3,000.

In 1984, Porritt's first book, Seeing Green, was published. In this year he also gave up teaching to become Director of Friends of the Earth in Britain, a post he held until 1990. From 1993-1996 he chaired Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future then known as UNED-UK.

After the Greens achieved 15% of the European Parliamentary vote in 1989, Porritt became a strong public advocate of change in the Green Party. In particular, he advocated a more professional organisation with identifiable leaders.[4]

Porritt also backed the election of Cynog Dafis, the joint Plaid Cymru-Green MP for Ceredigion.[5]

With Sara Parkin and Paul Ekins, Porritt founded Forum for the Future in 1996, a sustainable development charity. In 1997 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of the incoming Labour government's Sustainable Development Commission from which he retired in September 2009.

Porritt has also supported the Forests Now Declaration, which calls for new market based mechanisms to protect tropical forests.

In February 2009, Porritt stated that population growth is a serious threat to the global environment and that contraception, abortion and family planning is a part of the answer to global warming. He thinks that people should have no more than two children and if they do, they are being irresponsible[citation needed].

Porritt has been heavily criticised for what some are calling anti-family and communist-like comments.[6]

When he founded Forum of the Future, Porritt withdrew from party politics to concentrate on his non-party political roles. In March 2009, Porritt spoke at the launch of the South West Green Party European Election campaign in Bristol, stating that he had always remained a member of the Green Party and that it was the correct time to reaffirm his support.

Since leaving the SDC, Porritt has publicly supported the report Prosperity Without Growth.[7]

Current activities[edit]

The Hon. Jonathon Porritt receiving an honorary degree

Porritt acts as advisor to many bodies on environmental matters, as well as to individuals including Prince Charles. He is a board member of Wessex Water and Willmott Dixon and advises Marks & Spencer on its forward strategy.

Porritt is on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine and actively supports the efforts of experts promoting renewable energy and sustainable development such as Walt Patterson. He is a former Chair and current President of sustainable development charity Sustainability South West. From 2000 to 2009, he was chair of the Sustainable Development Commission set up by the prime minister, Tony Blair. He was, however, critical of the Labour government for its environmental record and its pro-nuclear stance, and has campaigned against nuclear power.[8]

Porritt is a patron of Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust) and Denmark Farm Conservation Centre [1], Ceredigion. A substantial rewrite of his bestselling book Capitalism: As if the World Matters was published by Earthscan in September 2007. In 2000 he became an honorary graduate of the University of Sussex and in July 2008, he became an honorary graduate of the University of Exeter.[9] On 9 February 2012 he became Chancellor of Keele University.[10]


  • “I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,”[6]
  • “I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible. It is the ghost at the table. We have all these big issues that everybody is looking at and then you don’t really hear anyone say the ‘p’ word.”[6]
  • "The trust (OPT) will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably."[11]
  • "I've learned that the fate of the world's indigenous people lies in the fate of us all. And the reason is very simple. At the heart of today's so-called 'environmental crisis' is something profound and disturbing. We are simply not at one with the world in which we live, we are not 'true dwellers in the land', and behave for the most part as if we were just uncaring itinerants hanging around until we've used everything up and then moving on."[12]




  • Porritt, Jonathon (1984). Seeing Green: the politics of ecology explained. ISBN 0-631-13893-5. 
  • Porritt, Jonathon (1994). The "Reader's Digest" Good Beach Guide. 
  • Porritt, Jonathon (1995). Liberty and Sustainability: Where One Person's Freedom is Another's Nuisance. 
  • Porritt, Jonathon (2000). Playing Safe: Science and the Environment (Prospects for Tomorrow). 
  • Porritt, Jonathon (2004). Making the Net Work: Sustainable Development in a Digital Society. 
  • Porritt, Jonathon (2005, revised 2007). Capitalism: As if the World Matters. 


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baronetage website
  2. ^ Who's who
  3. ^ Wellesley House School - Alumni - Distinguished others - Sir Jonathan Porritt (sic) Publisher: Wellesley House School. Retrieved: 22 May, 2013.
  4. ^ 'Porritt urges streamlining of leadership system', Financial Times, 23 September 1989
  5. ^ Article by John Morrisey
  6. ^ a b c Templeton, Sarah-Kate (2009-02-01). "Two children should be limit says green guru". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  7. ^ Blog Post by Jonathon Porritt[dead link]
  8. ^ John Vidal (10 April 2012). "Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists". The Guardian. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Keele University Announces New Chancellor, 10 November 2011
  11. ^ Leake, Jonathon; Montague, Brendan (2009-03-22). "UK population must fall to 30m says Porritt". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  12. ^ Eede, Joanna (2009). We are One: A Celebration of Tribal Peoples. Quadrille Publishing. ISBN 1-84400-729-4. 

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Porritt
(of Hampstead)
Since 1994 unproven incumbent
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
Professor Sir David Weatherall
Chancellor of Keele University
Succeeded by