Green Ribbon Political Awards
Businesses – NGOs – Parliamentarians – Journalists – Environmental figures
The Green Ribbon Political Awards are the only awards to celebrate the achievements of politicians, businesses and charities judged by experts of the highest international calibre. The 2016 Green Ribbon Political Awards were held on Tuesday 3rd May on the Terrace of the House of Commons. The ceremony was hosted by the eminent Jonathon Porritt with special guest speaker, President of the Constitutional Council, President of COP21 and broker of the Paris climate deal Laurent Fabius.
Photographs courtesy of Dan Bridge Photography
2016 Green Ribbon Winners
Parliamentarian of the year (MP)
Nick Hurd MP
Nick is awarded for his leadership on pushing a green Conservative message from the backbenches, through his Chairmanship of the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group, as a Member of the Environmental Audit Committee and now through his work as DFID Minister. He is a moderniser, having introduced the Sustainable Communities Act through a Private Members Bill and was the Chair of the Climate Change group of the Party’s Quality of Life policy review commission in opposition. Nick has shown integrity throughout his career and it is this commitment to a green mandate that impressed the judges most.
Parliamentarian of the year (House of Lords)
Baroness Young of Old Scone
Baroness Young is commended for her work outside of the House, speaking out for environmental concerns relating to Brexit through her role as co-Chair of Environmentalists for Europe. Barbara has headed three major British environmental institutions, the RSPB, English Nature and the Environment Agency and used her influence to bring together environmentalists to back the in-campaign. The judges remarked that she has chosen to go out on a limb for something she feels so strongly about in the run up to an important vote. Commenting on the referendum Young said: “Environmental quality, clean air, healthy oceans and rich natural resources can only be secured by collaboration across national boundaries and common EU standards promote new technologies and businesses. Brexit would halt and even reverse four decades of progress.”
Parliamentarian of the year (MEP)
Catherine Bearder MEP
Catherine is awarded for her work championing stronger European targets for reducing air pollution in Member States and pushing to clean up the vehicle testing emissions regime. With most of our pollutants originating from abroad, clean air is a public health crisis that has to be tackled at a European level. Catherine has generated a huge public awareness of the issue, has helped ensure that the EU Environment Committee has prioritised tackling air pollution ahead of the vested interests of individual industries, and has consistently worked to highlight the issue and to champion action often in the face of opposition from the UK government.
Journalist of the year
Lean pioneered the role of environmental correspondent over 40 years ago, long before green issues became fashionable. He has been a tireless voice for conservation, with incredible attention to detail, showing scientific consensus and speaking out on climate change from the very beginning. The judges remarked that his is a really important and extraordinary kind of journalism.
Geoffrey held previous jobs at the Observer and the Independent on Sunday, but it was at the Telegraph where he stood out, pushing the limits of what he could get through the editorial filter. His departure from the Telegraph is a lost voice for the environment to a conservative audience.
Two days before the Paris Climate conference, Lean was pushed out of the Telegraph where he had reported since 2009, a result, he believes, from the rise of climate change rejectionists. Undeterred, Lean has launched his own blog, reporting from COP21 at his own expense and will continue to write for other newspapers ensuring his voice will continue to stand out.
Best environmental journalism
The Guardian climate team has been selected for its exceptional coverage of the Paris climate conference and its parallel ‘Keep it in the Ground divestment’ campaign. The judges felt it worthy to reward the impressive level of commitment put in by the paper to non-partisan reporting of environmental issues. The team of eight journalists covered the entirety of the two week climate conference, a far greater commitment than other media outlets worldwide, resulting in a great deal of unique and quality reporting.
In addition to its steadfast coverage, The Guardian’s ‘Keep it in the ground’ campaign was conceived to provide readers with the information they need to make their own investment decisions and to apply pressure on their workplaces, organisations and charities in their lives to take their investments out of the companies driving climate change. At its launch the Guardian Media Group divested all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund of over £800m, making it the largest company yet to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies.
Best environmental campaign by a non-governmental organisation
Green Alliance is rewarded for its unique and brilliant campaign to broker a cross-party pledge on climate change prior to the General Election. The pledge was publicly signed by the three main party leaders who agreed to work across party lines for the first time on a strong global climate deal in 2015, to agree carbon budgets and to end the use of unabated coal for power.
In November 2015, the UK became the first major industrial nation to agree to phase out coal. And, in a crucial year for climate diplomacy, the Paris climate conference talks consolidated the UK’s ambitions, with a bold speech by the Prime Minister, and led to further work to push ambition through the European negotiating bloc. It can be said that the pledge has resulted in the Government agreeing to the fourth carbon budget and provides a strong driver for accepting a strong Fifth Carbon Budget in the summer of 2016.
The judges remarked that the campaign was traditional yet brilliant. It must have taken an exceptional level of brokering and was kept cleverly under wraps until it was complete.
Business commitment to the environment
Tesla topped the business commitment to the environment category with serial technology entrepreneur Elon Musk at the helm. The company is constantly pushing the boundaries with innovative and game changing technology. The Tesla mission is to accelerate the transition towards sustainable energy. Alongside the development of the “secret master plan” to introduce a mainstream affordable electric car and encourage more electric vehicles on the road, it is its foray into energy storage that impressed the judges the most. The Tesla Powerwall is the missing link in solar energy and could revolutionise the UK energy market by enabling people to store excess energy generated from rooftop solar panels. The 7kWh Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion-battery system to be installed in people’s homes to allow them to use their appliances when the sun isn’t shining.
Most inspirational figure internationally
His Holiness Pope Francis
His Holiness Pope Francis has won the Green Ribbon Political Award for the most inspirational figure internationally for the Papal Encyclical Laudato si’.
The 180-page encyclical reached an audience of millions and not just Catholics. Its impact in the USA has transformed the climate debate. Laudato si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels, and for the first time the link between poverty and social justice was linked to climate change. Circulated to the church’s 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests it is a call to action to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and can now be considered as the Church’s official position on the environment.
It is also the first encyclical to try to influence a global political process. Pope Francis repeated his message of climate justice and change to world leaders at the UN, seeking to influence climate change negotiators ahead of their December meeting in Paris. He also spoke before a joint session of the US Congress.
The social teaching argues that climate change is not just a “global problem with serious implications”, but has an impact felt disproportionately by the world’s poorest people. The judges praised the encyclical as a perfect example of how to write about climate justice, with juxtaposition to reduce you to tears. They believe that it was the most significant moment of 2015, utterly compelling and inspirational.
Best environmental achievement internationally
Laurent Fabius, former French Foreign Minister, President of the Constitutional Council and President-designate of COP21
The Paris climate deal was undoubtedly the greatest achievement internationally in 2015, however it is unlikely that it would have been reached at all without the efforts of Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister and President of COP21. The judges chose to award Mr Fabius specifically for translating 195 nations’ desires, disputes, and compromises into a document to save civilization from climate change.
Fabius put in the preparation, familiarising himself with the science, economics and politics of climate change. He started to visit counterparts’ countries to learn what others wanted from the deal. A month before the talks began, the working draft had over 1,600 bracketed items. By the end of the first week, it was down to 916. Fabius was incredible at leading the negotiations, where they failed he repeatedly found ways to make even the most frustrated countries feel empowered, using first name terms with delegates to create a family atmosphere. When things got tough, he moved them on, recognising early on where the sticking points would be. He suggested working groups to focus on minutiae, making those most opposed responsible for the groups until eventually there were no square brackets. It went to the wire, but with Fabius in charge everything had been resolved and he presided over the world’s greatest diplomatic success. He will go down in history as one of the greatest diplomats delivering an extraordinary deal, affecting the politics and economics of every nation in the world.
Lifetime achievement award
Sir David Attenborough
David Attenborough needs no introduction. A genuine broadcasting institution, he has achieved an impact like no other, bringing the wonders of the natural world to living rooms across the globe and inspiring countless budding naturalists and environmentalists to conserve and protect our imperilled planet.
Attenborough established his reputation as a broadcaster with the seminal Life on Earth series, Living Planet and a succession of other ‘life’ themed series, as well as long-running BBC staples Wildlife on One and the Natural World. In recent years has used his position to speak out on the destruction of the Earth, from climate change and habitat destruction to the challenges of population growth.
David doesn’t preach on the natural world but his genuine passion and compassion are compelling. Alongside broadcasting, even now he is working hard championing protection of the Great Barrier Reef and was outspoken on climate change ahead of the Paris conference. Turning 90 this coming Sunday, Sir David has become an icon of the natural world and no other award would be worthy but a lifetime achievement award.
Green Ribbon Award for special recognition of environmental achievement
Christiana has fight and tenacity woven into her very DNA. Daughter of Costa Rican revolutionary and President Jose, as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change over the past 6 years, she has taken that mantle to the climate change struggle and turned the post-Copenhagen malaise into the Paris optimism and commitment.
Despite an involvement in climate negotiations since 1985, Christiana remains a serial optimist and realist, blending understanding, heartfelt emotion and steely determination to build consensus to brilliant effect.
She worked to build trust among countries with widely differing interests on fossil fuel use, emissions reduction and the uptake of clean energy. She is widely recognised for having delivered a legally binding agreement that seemed impossible in the last two decades.
“A powerhouse”, “remarkable” and “self-effacing” were just some of the words used by the judges to describe Christiana. Her achievements in forging what has been described as a “new brand of collaborative diplomacy” are of genuine global significance.
Sir Ed Davey
Ed Davey is commended for his work as Minister for Energy and Climate Change in the Coalition Government to May 2015. Davey led changes in green economy policy across the piece on climate, which he did not always get credit for. In 2015 for the first time Britain produced more electricity from renewable power than coal, and during his term Britain’s renewable capacity trebled. The difference he made is clear now that he is no longer in Government. He spent his time battling with George Osbourne in the Treasury and against Eric Pickles over windfarms. Now that he is not there to fight the corner on energy and climate change, the UK may not now be able to meet either its Climate Change Act obligations or our EU targets, such as producing 20% of our total energy from renewable sources by 2020. There is also no doubt that without Ed’s prior leadership at DECC the success story from Paris would not have been achieved.
The Welsh Government is awarded for special recognition of environmental achievement for the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The far-sighted and pioneering Act will make public bodies think more about the long term, work better with people and communities as well as each other, look to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach to their work. The Act also establishes a statutory Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, whose role is to act as a guardian for the interests of future generations, and to support the public bodies listed in the Act to work towards achieving the well-being goals.
The judges remarked that it was the most important legislative development in the last year, which proposes a coherent and realistic view on human beings’ relationship with the environment and embeds this view across government. Moreover, as a highly transferable model that regional, national and international governments and institutions can adapt, it should be rolled out widely elsewhere.
Grey Ribbon Award for environmentally destructive contribution
Volkswagen and those complicit in the emissions scandal
This award is for knowingly deploying defeat devices leading to increased air pollution and for downplaying the extent of the emissions crisis. Theirs was a manifest fraud throughout the business; 11 million cars worldwide had the software installed, 1.2m of them were in the UK. VW knowingly and intentionally cheated on emission tests.
The judges decided the award should not only go to Volkswagen but also to those complicit in the emissions scandal for the breach of corporate responsibility and for governments prioritising protecting their car industries over the health of their citizens. Unfortunately for Volkswagen, it was selected as the most egregious example worldwide and as it has shown an unrepentant attitude since.
This year’s grey ribbon award links air pollution, climate change, health impacts and greenwash all into one.
Preliminary calculations suggest that the extra emissions by the 11 million vehicles that Volkswagen admits are affected could total up to 948,000 million tons worldwide, roughly the same as is pumped out by all the UK’s power stations, vehicles, factories and farms combined. Yet the company has acted as if nothing has happened, even championing its trustworthiness in an advertising campaign shortly after the revelations. The Green Ribbon Political Awards offered Volkswagen the opportunity to address the audience on what actions have been taken since the scandal broke to rectify the situation, but they were unavailable on the evening.
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The Green Ribbon Political Awards are run by CIWEM in association with the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group and the ENDS Report. The Awards were founded by EPC in 1992.
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