THE LIFE AND TIMES MES OF A LEADING ENVIRONMENTALIST LIST
Tony’s first act of environmental protest – aged 12 – was putting gravel into the fuel tanks of bulldozers involved in the construction of the Farmoor Reservoir near Oxford. “At the time it was a lovely wetland that had breeding reed warblers and grass snakes,” Tony says.
In 1989, he started working for what is now BirdLife International on a parrot conservation project. “We had 100 parrots in danger of going extinct and none of them have, so it shows that targeted conservation does work.”
Tony joined Friends of the Earth (FoE) in 1990 to work on its rainforest campaign, and in the mid-1990s became prominent in FoE’s road protests movement. “We used it to show the road-building programme was unsustainable and needed to change and that the law governing Sites of Special Scientific Interest had to be improved.” It was.
In 2005, Tony ran a campaign called The Big Ask that led to the Climate Change Act 2008, which commits the UK Government to reducing greenhousegas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
In 2010, he stood as the Green Party candidate in Cambridge – he came fourth with 8 per cent of the vote.
Tony has written a number of books including Spix’s Macaw: The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Bird. His latest is Rainforest: Dispatches from Earth’s Most Vital Frontlines (see review on p88). He was appointed a CBE in 2017.