Jonathon Porritt

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Jonathon Espie Porritt
Jonathon Porritt 2008.jpg
Porritt receiving honorary degree from University of Exeter in 2008
Born 6 July 1950 (1950-07-06) (age 67)
London, UK
Fields Environmentalism
Alma mater University of Oxford
Notable awards CBE (2000)
Website
http://www.jonathonporritt.com/

Sir Jonathon Espie Porritt, CBE (born 6 July 1950)[1] is a leading British environmentalist and writer, who has been described as "Britain’s most influential green thinker".[2] He is known for his advocacy of the Green Party of England and Wales.[3] Porritt frequently contributes to magazines, newspapers and books, and appears on radio and television.

Early life and education[edit]

Jonathon Porritt was born in London, the son of The Lord Porritt, 11th Governor-General of New Zealand and his second wife, Kathleen Peck.[4] Lord Porritt, who served as a senior officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II,[5] was also the bronze medalist in the 1924 Summer Olympics "Chariots of Fire" 100 metres race.[4] As well as receiving a life peerage,[6] Lord Porritt had previously been awarded a baronetcy in 1963.[4] Jonathon Porritt succeeded to the title of 2nd Baronet Porritt on 1 January 1994.[4][7]

Porritt was educated at Wellesley House School, Broadstairs, Kent;[8] Eton College;[9] and Magdalen College, University of Oxford, where he did a first class degree in modern languages.[10]

Early career[edit]

Despite training as a barrister,[11] 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.[12] He taught there from 1974 to 1984, serving as Head of English from 1980 to 1984.[1]

Environmental and political involvement[edit]

External video
Jonathon Porritt 2009b.jpg
Jonathon Porritt: video interview, The Guardian, 2012
“Sustainability for All”, Jonathon Porritt at TEDxExeter, 2013
Jonathon Porritt on population, Population Matters, 2013

The Green Party[edit]

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Porritt was a prominent member of the Ecology Party (now the Green Party of England and Wales). Porritt served as chair of The Ecology Party from 1979 to 1980, and from 1982 to 1984. He presided over changes that made the party much more prominent in elections, himself standing as a parliamentary candidate in general elections in 1979 and 1983.[1][13] In 1979 he received 4.1% of the vote in London Central, receiving attention from national media.[14] Under his stewardship, membership grew from a few hundred to around 3,000.[15] [2]

In 1984, Porritt published his first book, Seeing Green: Politics of Ecology Explained.[16] It was written while he was policy director of the Ecology Party. As of 1999, it was still described as "the best general guide to the politics of ecology by an 'insider'". [17] Reviewed nearly 30 years after its publication, it stands up as "prophetic in many respects",[18] although somewhat off in the timing of its predictions, perhaps in part because Porritt did not anticipate the rise of indebtedness. Writing before the rise of the internet, Porritt even predicted the development of an “information-rich, knowledge-poor” age.[18]

The Greens achieved 15% of the European Parliamentary vote in 1989, but were able to win only 1.2% of the vote in the 1992 general election, in which environmental issues were largely ignored.[19]:10 During this time Porritt became a strong public advocate of change in the Green Party. Along with Sara Parkin, he advocated for a more professional organisation with identifiable leaders, a change that was eventually approved.[13][20][21]

In 1992 Porritt backed the election of Cynog Dafis who was successfully elected to Parliament as the joint Plaid Cymru-Green MP for Ceredigion. However, in 1994, the regional council of the Green Party suspended Jonathon Porritt for supporting Cynog Dafis, and demanded that Dafis Cynog stop identifying himself as Green.[22][23][24][25][21]

Between 1996 and 2009, Porritt largely withdrew from active party politics, concentrating instead on non-partisan and activist roles independent of the Green Party.[26]

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. He noted that many of the policies in the Ecology Party's manifesto of 1979 were now accepted by mainstream political parties, and emphasized the importance of active support.[26]

""Every single one of the issues that the Green Party has been campaigning on for the last 35 years is getting worse and worse, which means that people should no longer put off the day when they accept that the future is either Green or not at all." Porritt, 2009[26]

Prior to the 2015 general election, he was one of several public figures who endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas.[27]

Friends of the Earth[edit]

In 1984 Porritt gave up teaching to become Director of Friends of the Earth in Britain, a post he held until 1990. Although criticized initially as inexperienced, in the long term he has been seen as an important factor in the group's success in the late 1980s.[28]:155 He edited the Friends of the Earth Handbook (1987)[29] and encouraged Friends of the Earth to promote practical solutions in its local environmental campaigns, as well as thinking more globally and internationally.[28]:155 During his time as director, the membership of the organization expanded from 12,700 to 226,300.[30] Looking back in 2012, Porritt stated that becoming director of Friends of the Earth "was probably the best decision of my life."[28]:ix However, his affection for the organization has not stopped him from harshly criticizing it, as he did in 2015, when the group's top ten priority issues list did not include nuclear power.[31]

Beyond Agenda 21[edit]

Porritt attended United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, eventually writing an introduction for The way forward : beyond Agenda 21 (1997).[32] From 1993–1996 he chaired Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, then known as United Nations Environment and Development UK (UNED UK). The organization encourages international stakeholders to engage in decision-making for sustainable development.[33]

Forum for the Future[edit]

With Sara Parkin and Paul Ekins, Porritt founded Forum for the Future in 1996, a sustainable development charity. [34] The nonprofit offers advice on sustainability planning to multinational companies including Kellogg’s and Unilever.[35]

After founding Forum of the Future, Porritt largely withdrew from party politics to concentrate on non-partisan political work.[36]

Sustainable Development Commission[edit]

In 2000 Porritt was appointed the inaugural Chair of the incoming Labour government's Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), set up by prime minister Tony Blair. He was reappointed twice for three-year terms, the last of which began 26th July 2006. From 2000 to 2009, Porritt chaired the SDC.[37] He was, however, critical of the Labour government for its environmental record and its pro-nuclear stance, and has campaigned against nuclear power.[38]

While at SDC, Porritt encouraged the work of economist Tim Jackson, whose SDC report Prosperity Without Growth was later published as a book under the same title.[39] Since retiring from the SDC in September 2009, Porritt has publicly supported the report's analysis of economic growth as it relates to environmental and human well-being, and the potential for a sustainable economy.[40]

The Sustainable Development Commission closed on 31 March 2011.[37]

Population Matters[edit]

Porritt is a patron of the population concern charity Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust).[41] Porritt has stated that population growth is a serious threat to the global environment and that family planning, including both birth control and abortion,[42] is a part of the answer to global warming. He recommends that people should have no more than two children. [43][44][45] Porritt has asserted that "promotion of reproductive health is one of the most progressive forms of intervention" that could be used to reduce carbon emissions.[46]

Porritt's views are based in part on a 2009 report by Thomas Wire at the London School of Economics, commissioned by Optimum Population Trust. It compared the cost-effectiveness of access to family planning with other interventions such as low-carbon technologies, and concluded that access to family planning, by decreasing population and the subsequent human carbon footprint, could have a substantial impact on global warming.[47] Similar views are supported by other researchers and international organizations.[48][49][50]

Porritt's remarks on the subject in 2009 caused outrage among anti-abortionists and some religious leaders.[42] Porritt was also criticized for praising China for its 'one child family' policy,[46] which has reduced birth rates but is described as coercive, cruel and causing "immeasurable suffering".[51] Although the Green Party, Population Matters and other organizations assert that they only support voluntary use of family planning, calls for population control raise fears that it will be coercively used in ways that infringe human rights.[52] Porritt remained definite about his position.

"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... I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible." Porritt, 2009[43]

Environmental commentator George Monbiot, who also uses carbon emissions for ecological footprinting, has criticized Porritt's emphasis on family planning. He asserts that radical family planning will have little impact unless people limit their consumption. "People might populate less as they become richer, but they do not consume less; rather they consume more. That is, as the habits of the super-rich show, there are no limits to human extravagance."[45]:34 The carbon footprint of people in poorer countries has been shown to be much lower than that in wealthy countries.[53] Increasing availability to contraceptive usage in poor countries, although it may have decrease population growth in those countries, may therefore do little to limit carbon impact.[45]:34 Porritt argues that this does not lessen the responsibility of wealthy countries to address population, asserting that population affects both the rich and poor worlds, and that "Every country needs a population strategy, including the US and the UK."[44]

Porritt is also an advisor to Project Drawdown,[54] which "maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming".[55] Among the top ten solutions, according to Project Drawdown, are the education of women and the availability of family planning services.[56]

Other activities[edit]

Porritt served as chairman of Sustainability South-West, the South-West Round Table for Sustainable Development in England, from 1999 to 2001,[57] and later as president.[58]

Porritt served as a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund (UK) from 1991-2005.[59] Porritt is on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine[36] and actively supports the efforts of experts promoting renewable energy and sustainable development such as Walt Patterson.[60]

Porritt is an endorser of the Forests Now Declaration, presented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting, held in Bali in December 2007. The Declaration calls for new market based carbon policies and reforms to prioritize the protection of tropical forests.[61][62] Porritt has strongly criticized proposals by the UK government to sell off Britain's remaining 635,000 acres of public woodlands,[63][64] and helped to form the organization Our Forests in 2012 to protect and expand public and private woodlands throughout England.[65][66]

Porritt acts as advisor to many bodies on environmental matters, as well as to individuals including Prince Charles.[67][68]

His best-selling book Capitalism: As if the World Matters was originally published in 2005, and revised and republished by Earthscan in September 2007. In it he argues that capitalism must be controlled and redirected to create a sustainable world.[69][70]

In line with this view, Porritt has worked to encourage businesses to move towards sustainability.[37][71] As of 2004, Porritt became a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.[72] In 2005 he became a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water,[37] and in 2008 he became a non-executive director for the Willmott Dixon Group.[73] Porritt also serves on the Sustainable Retail Advisory Board for Marks & Spencer, advising the company on its long-term sustainability strategy.[74][71][75]

Porritt is a convenor of the cross-party political movement, More United.[76][77]

Porritt's book The World We Made (2013) is a futurist account of how the world will have changed by 2050, noted for both its comprehensiveness and optimism.[35]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2000, Jonathon Porritt was named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).[78]

Porritt became an honorary Doctor of Laws of the University of Sussex in 2000.[79] Porritt received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2001.[80] In July 2008, he became an honorary graduate of the University of Exeter.[81]

On 9 February 2012 he became Chancellor of Keele University.[82]

Arms[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

Articles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Bawden, Tom (2 September 2014). "Leading environmentalist Sir Jonathan Porritt hits out at colleagues' unrealistic aims". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
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  9. ^ Vallely, Paul (30 August 2002). "Jonathon Porritt: A subtle transition from green to shades of grey". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  10. ^ "Rude awakening". The Guardian. 8 November 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Kok, Cecilia (July 24, 2010). "Up close and personal with environmentalist Jonathon Espie Porritt". The Star Online. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
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  15. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (24 July 2009). "Jonathon Porritt, the greenest of bluebloods". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  16. ^ Porritt, Jonathon (1984). Seeing green : the politics of ecology explained. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell. ISBN 9780631143314. 
  17. ^ Eatwell, Roger; Wright, Anthony (March 1, 1999). Contemporary political ideologies (2nd ed.). London: A&C Black. p. 253. ISBN 978-0826451736. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
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  19. ^ Rawcliffe, Peter (1998). Environmental pressure groups in transition. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719052125. 
  20. ^ "Porritt urges streamlining of leadership system". Financial Times. 23 September 1989. 
  21. ^ a b Barberis, Peter; McHugh, John; Tyldesley, Mike (2001). Encyclopedia of British and Irish political organizations : parties, groups and movements of the 20th century. New York: Continuum. pp. 26–27. ISBN 9780826458148. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  22. ^ Morrissey, John (1997). "How Green Was My Party?". Synthesis/Regeneration. 13 (Spring). Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  23. ^ "Porritt suspension splits Greens". The Independent. 24 August 1994. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
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  26. ^ a b c "Green Party has been "right all along," says UK sustainable development chief". Green Party. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  27. ^ Elgot, Jessica (24 April 2015). "Celebrities sign statement of support for Caroline Lucas – but not the Greens". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  28. ^ a b c Lamb, Robert (2012). Promising the earth. New York: Routledge. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  29. ^ Porritt, Jonathon (1987). Friends of the Earth handbooks. London: Macdonald Optima. ISBN 9780356125602. 
  30. ^ Kumar, Satish; Whitefield, Freddie (2007). Visionaries : the 20th century's 100 most important inspirational leaders. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Gree Publishing. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-1933392530. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  31. ^ Leftly, Mark (23 May 2015). "Friends of the Earth slammed as 'totally reprehensible' by group's former director". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  32. ^ Dodds, Felix, ed. (1997). The way forward : beyond Agenda 21. London: Earthscan Publications. pp. xvi–xix. ISBN 1853834378. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  33. ^ "About Us". Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future. 
  34. ^ Mahidhara, Ramamohan (2002). The environmental and social challenges of private sector projects : IFC's experience (1st ed.). Washington, DC: International Finance Corporation. p. 75. ISBN 0821350552. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  35. ^ a b Rinde, Meir (2016). "Imagining a Postcarbon Future". Distillations. 2 (3): 24–33. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  36. ^ a b "Jonathon Porritt CBE (£2,000 - £5,000)". Parliament Speakers. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  37. ^ a b c d "Re-appointment of Jonathon Porritt as Chair to the Sustainable Development Commission". Sustainable Development Commission. Retrieved 18 July 2006. 
  38. ^ Vidal, John (10 April 2012). "Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists". The Guardian. 
  39. ^ Jackson, Tim (2009). Prosperity without growth : economics for a finite planet (PDF) (Repr. ed.). London: Earthscan. p. vii. ISBN 978-1-84977-000-2. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  40. ^ Porritt, Jonathon (March 31, 2009). "Prosperity Without Growth?". Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist and writer. 
  41. ^ "Population Matters Patrons". Population Matters. 
  42. ^ a b "2 children should be limit, says PM's aide". Daily Express. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  43. ^ a b Bingham, John (2 February 2009). "Government green guru Sir Jonathon Porritt calls for two-child limit". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  44. ^ a b Porritt, Jonathon (26 October 2011). "Jonathon Porritt : Over-population: the global crisis that dare not speak its name". The Independent. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  45. ^ a b c Monaghan, Philip (2011). Sustainability in austerity : how local government can deliver during times of crisis. Sheffield: Greenleaf Pub. pp. 33–35. ISBN 9781906093570. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  46. ^ a b Vidal, John (3 December 2009). "Rich nations to offset emissions with birth control". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  47. ^ Wire, Thomas (2009). Fewer emitters, lower emissions, less cost reducing future carbon emissions by investing in family planning: A cost/benefit analysis (PDF). London School of Economics / Optimum Population Trust. 
  48. ^ "The Population - Climate Connection: Why Family Planning is a Win - Win for Women and the Plane" (PDF). Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health. 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  49. ^ O'Neill, Brian C.; Dalton, Michael; Fuchs, Regina; Jiang, Leiwen; Pachauri, Shonali; Zigova, Katarina (12 October 2010). "Global demographic trends and future carbon emissions". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (41): 17521–17526. doi:10.1073/pnas.1004581107. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  50. ^ "BY SLOWING POPULATION GROWTH , FAMILY PLANNING CAN HELP ADDRESS FOOD INSECURITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE February 3, 2015" (PDF). Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  51. ^ O’Neill, Brendan (19 May 2010). "Features China’s parents have begun to rebel". The Spectator. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  52. ^ Dobson, Andrew (2007). Green political thought. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415403528. 
  53. ^ "Carbon emissions per person, by country". DataBlog. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  54. ^ "Drawdown Advisors". Project Drawdown. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
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  56. ^ "Summary of Solutions by Overall Rank". Project Drawdown. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  57. ^ Henriques, Adrian; Richardson, Julie, eds. (2005). The triple bottom line, does it all add up? : Assessing the sustainability of business and CSR. London: Earthscan. p. x. ISBN 9781844070152. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  58. ^ South West Regional Committee (2010). Transport in the South West : first report of session 2009-10. London: Stationery Office. pp. 204–206. ISBN 978-0215544094. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  59. ^ Chick, Anne; Micklethwaite, Paul (2011). Design for sustainable change : how design and designers can drive the sustainability agenda. Lausanne, Switzerland: Ava Pub. p. 97. ISBN 9782940411306. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  60. ^ "Keeping The Lights On: Towards Sustainable Electricity". Chatham House. Retrieved 2007.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  61. ^ "Featured Endorsers". Forests Now (Archived). Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  62. ^ "The Forests NOW Declaration". Global Canopy Programme. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  63. ^ Vidal, John (22 December 2010). "For sale: all of our forests. Not some of them, nor most of them – the whole lot". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  64. ^ Porritt, Jonathon (16 February 2011). "Protecting the Public Forest Estate: Now!". Open Democracy UK. 
  65. ^ Carrington, Damian (11 January 2012). "Secret forest sell-off 'shopping lists' drawn up by conservation groups". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  66. ^ "Our Forests Vision for England’s Woods and Forests". Our Forests. Retrieved 11/01/2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  67. ^ Pierce, Andrew (12 November 2008). "Prince Charles's inner circle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  68. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (8 November 2013). "Prince Charles at 65: Evergreen Prince has changed the world". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  69. ^ Castro, C. J. (1 June 2007). "Book Review: Jonathon Porritt. Capitalism As If the World Matters. London: Earthscan, 2005". Organization & Environment. 20 (2): 266–268. doi:10.1177/1086026607302163. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  70. ^ "Book review: Capitalism as if the World Matters – Jonathon Porritt (2007)". Blue & Green Tomorrow. December 20, 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
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  72. ^ "Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy in 2012". Jonathon Porritt. 24 May 2012. 
  73. ^ "Sustainability campaigner Jonathon Porritt takes role at Willmott Dixon". Construction News. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
  74. ^ "Sustainable Retail Advisory Board". Marks & Spencer. Retrieved 1 July 2017. 
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  76. ^ "The team". Retrieved 3 May 2017. 
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  80. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Honorary Graduates" (PDF). Heriot-Watt University. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  81. ^ "Monday 14 July 2008 afternoon ceremony (Cornwall) Jonathon PorrittJonathon Porritt (LLD)". The University of Exeter. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  82. ^ "Keele University Announces New Chancellor". Keele University. 10 November 2011. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jonathan Tyler
Chair of the Ecology Party
1980 – 1982
Succeeded by
Replaced by three co-chairs
Preceded by
New position
Co-Chair of the Ecology Party
1982 – 1984
With: Jean Lambert
Alec Pontin (1982 – 1983)
Paul Ekins (1983 – 1984)
Succeeded by
Paul Ekins and Jean Lambert
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Porritt
Baronet
(of Hampstead)
Since 1994 unproven incumbent
Succeeded by
-
Academic offices
Preceded by
Professor Sir David Weatherall
Chancellor of Keele University
2012—
Succeeded by
Incumbent