Interview: John Ashton, CBE, on climate change, politics and leadership

18 Jun 2013

John Ashton, CBE, former special representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign Office

John Ashton, CBE, former special representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign Office, is in Dublin for the Climate Gathering. He spoke to Ann O’Dea about climate change, politics and leadership.

This week’s Climate Gathering sees representatives from the IT, environmental and community space descend upon Dublin for a three-day workshop on how we might best go about pursuing a low-carbon, digital economy. Ashton is one of the speakers and participants, and we caught up with him on Monday as he arrived in Dublin.

Since leaving his post in the Foreign Office in June 2012, Ashton says he is still in touch with the organisation he founded, Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G), but is taking some time out from a formal role, as he tries to find “a richer and more compelling way of thinking and talking about the issue of climate change”.

In an extensive interview, Ashton described the current environment in the UK and the attitude to climate change there. He gave his thoughts on the Obama administration’s commitment to green energy and clean technology, and cautioned against a trade war with China over tariffs on solar panels in Europe.

Ashton also spoke about the necessity of changing our “business as usual” attitude worldwide, particularly when it comes to politics, and indeed describes our political systems as “broken”. He believes there is a complacency around the latter that could lead to change coming from outside in a more disruptive manner, if governments don’t tackle it now.

Watch the interview below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human