A note from the editor –  Posted this week is a piece of fiction, called Don’t Follow the Leader, crafted by our UK writer David Thorpe. David’s been filing for us from the other side of the planet since just before our big event on green finance in London in 2015. See the ebook here. What fun it was to persuade all those worthy and influential people to attend a salon so we could ping them for their true views on how to finance the sustainability transition. Plus record their conversation, plus report it pretty much at length and in detail, with very few intrusions from Chatham House rules kicking in to stem the flow.

We found David because of a blog he wrote that some sustainability website or other that he was writing for was shutting down for lack of funds. They were dismal days everywhere then, in the wake of the vicious backlash to climate action from the fossil fuel cabal who were quite happy then as now to see the rest of the world burn in order to enjoy their own deep pockets.

We liked David’s style, not the least because he shared our passions. So, it wasn’t long before we had a fabulous arrangement he contributed articles that keep us informed of where the UK and Europe are heading in terms of climate policy  – important because well, Australia likes to be a follower, not a leader.

From the start it was obvious David was fully committed as a climate advocate and on occasion activist (with scores of books on climate and energy among many other projects) while keeping his writing (fairly) balanced. So, it was a shock to receive his email in recent days that he’d been taken ill. See what he says about how climate anxiety has played a part. He ended up in hospital. Short term, thank goodness. But while there, the uncontrollable urge to write that afflicts so many writers kicked in. Thank goodness. He’s written the Titanic piece but also a more personal account of his illness and its connection to his absolute commitment to avoiding the worst of climate change. It’s a sobering and very worthwhile read, posted below.

Letter from David Thorpe: I regard myself as a victim of climate change. A few weeks ago, I suffered a stroke, fortunately not affecting my mind, allowing me to continue to dictate into my computer as I have for the last 25 years due to my cerebral palsy. I am now being well cared for in hospital in Carmarthen in Wales.

The week before my stroke I became very depressed and stressed because of all the awful headlines concerning how our political leaders were doing nothing meaningful about stopping climate change. I was having unusual headaches and visual distortion.

I couldn’t stand up without falling over.

The next day I went to the GP who diagnosed high blood pressure. I said but I’m fit and healthy, I have a good diet and am active. I cycle and garden. But apparently, I am a typical case: a so-called perfectionist who is impatient in demanding people take action. How ironic. The next morning, I had the major stroke. My partner called the ambulance which came quickly and brought me to the hospital. Like most people I feel so sad for the future of all life on Earth, and for my children’s future.

I’ve been involved in environmental activism, research and the business of testing and spreading solutions to environmental problems for 30 years. I am an optimist, I thought people would listen and I always thought we had a chance of saving ourselves and nature from the worst that could happen. But we’ve already passed scary tipping points.

I know that compared to many people who have suffered directly from climate change either with their lives or by losing livelihoods or homes, my plight is minimal. But I blame it on the failure of the world to tackle its most serious challenge.

Why am I one of the few to have seen this coming for 30 years? Why have not most people noticed and done something? I demand to know. Especially those people who call themselves our leaders and who should know better. This is a real failure of governance. I think that there are two kinds of people – those who can scope what may be coming in the future and take precautions, and those who live for the moment and the near future. I feel like I have always lived in the future which is why I also write “what if” science fiction as well as being an environmental activist.


Jane Davidson, architect of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, (left) and Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner, UK

Following is a media release on the One Planet standard – a new way for organisations to tackle the nature and climate emergencies

The One Planet Centre CIC and Assessment Services Ltd are proud to launch the new One Planet Standard, which provides a set of protocols to help organisations of any size successfully meet the challenges of climate change, mass extinction and resource scarcity.

The marketing director of a famous Welsh brand of bottled water recently said: “We know we ought to do something about the climate emergency, but we just don’t know what.”

Many organisations feel the same. This is why we have developed The One Planet Standard. It’s a series of protocols that encourage integrated evidence-based decision-making in the way organisations conduct their business to help them to apply stewardship to Planet Earth’s natural boundaries.

Understanding the requirements of the One Planet Standard will help senior leaders shape strategic direction, help leaders and managers implement change, help staff shift the corporate culture, help customers, suppliers and service contractors manage product and service life cycles, and contribute to partnership working. 

Jane Davidson, the architect of the Well-being of Future Generations Act in Wales, says:

“this is an impressive tool to help people be confident in their emission reduction”.

Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner, says:

“The Standard aligns and builds on my existing advice in the area of decarbonisation and enhancing nature resilience, and it can help not only the public sector but all organisations in Wales with practical actions towards meeting carbon emission and biodiversity targets.

“The Standard centres around the 5 ways of working and promotes long-term thinking; it is an easy-to-understand and useful tool that can help address the climate and nature emergencies, prevent the disaster we are currently heading towards and help ensure the well-being of our future generations and the planet.”

The One Planet Standard will have its formal launch with Jane Davidson on 28 September as part of the Good Governance Institute’s Good Governance Festival.

The One Planet Standard will help organisations of all types combat climate change and re-introduce more biodiversity and nature into our environment, by adjusting the complete impacts of their activities – their estate, products and services, and operations – so they do not exceed what the planet can provide.

Importantly, an independent assessment evaluates whether the total of measurable outcomes verifies that an organisation is doing in reality what it says it is doing.

This will be conducted by Assessment Services Ltd which has 30 years’ experience in evaluating standards in both the private and public sector, including Customer Service Excellence, IAQF Cymru/Wales, Merlin, Matrix, IAG Standard, SFEDI Awards (for the IOEE), and Families First Quality Awards, so there is no opportunity for greenwash!!

Bronze, silver and gold levels introduce an element of ambition and for the process of planned continuous improvement towards a “one planet” footprint.

Whatever the organisation, it is likely to lead to:
• enhanced reputation
• leaner, more efficient operation
• better performance
• improved staff motivation
• compliance with legislation.

The One Planet Centre CIC’s founder-director David Thorpe says,

“We believe we already have the answers to the environmental and social problems, we just don’t apply them systematically. So, we offer a compendium of solutions, metrics and indicators that support the implementation of the Standard.”

Assessment Services Ltd’s chief executive officer Paul Bridle says,

“We’re delighted to be supporting the One Planet Centre with their aims to create a better planet. The standard will help organisations wishing to ensure they play their part in securing the future of our planet in a practical way.”

The One Planet Standard makes everything crystal clear for public bodies, private companies and community organisations.

Organisations are encouraged to pilot the scheme at no cost.

Downloading the standard is free. For more information click here.

This graph below shows the extent of humanity’s ecological deficit. It is over fifty years since we operated within the limits of what the planet can support. This is why every organisation needs to contribute to the urgent effort to reverse this trend:

Humanity’s ecological footprint from 1960 to 2020 Source: WWF, Living Planet Report

For more information, and to download the Standard, please see its dedicated website

“Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies, in our economics and in our politics.” – Sir David Attenborough. “Change is coming, whether you like it or not.” – Greta Thunberg.  

David Thorpe says:

Why isn’t this happening?

Too many business models are threatened by the transition to a green economy. These businesses and unions have big lobbying power. Extinction Rebellion achieved the goal of getting the government to declare the climate emergency and to have a citizens’ assembly. The citizens assembly made its recommendations to the government.

You wouldn’t know it, would you? These have been ignored, because the voices of business are louder in the ears of the Tory government and the voices of the unions are louder in the ears of the Labour opposition.

This is one reason why nothing is done about making existing buildings consume much less energy. and why nothing is done about making all new buildings zero carbon. It is why they still building on greenbelt land, and planning new roads, and tearing up woodlands for (high speed rail) HS2. It is why we have a crazy trade deal with Australia to import sheep when we have plenty of sheep here. The list of madness is endless.

I’m afraid that only when the fear of the effects of climate change is greater than the fear that their business model will suffer will the main political parties show the kind of leadership that they need to show. By then it will be too late for we have already passed the point at which we could make cheap, reasonable changes and still save civilisation from disaster, as suggested by Sir Nicholas Stern way back in 2006.

So, what can you do as an individual?

I can only suggest that individuals do their best to make where they live as resilient as possible, and start learning practical skills, like growing their own food. Switch to renewable electricity When supply lines dry up because of extreme weather and the supermarket shelves are empty  as I predicted in my 2014 cli-fi novel Stormteller; you will need all the skills you can master.”

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  1. “Why am I one of the few to have seen this coming for 30 years?”

    I think you’re not. I remember back to the 1980s, when I was at school and the then leaders of Australia, PM Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating put the country on a path to reduce carbon emissions. The UK was talking about similar issues during the Thatcher years, but the message was lost in the conflict around all the other things her government did.

    Hawke and Keating – and probably Thatcher too – were visionary and brave leaders who put in place nation-building initiatives in several areas, regardless of what you think of their politics.

    Since then, politics has taken a shift towards managing by poll and slavishly following the will of small, influential constituents, rather than taking them in a direction they didn’t know they needed to go. I would say that it is a success of governance but a failure of leadership.

    But now, at COP26, Mia Mottley has put out her clarion call, “When will leaders lead?!” Hopefully, it will change things for the better.