In this article, we use the term “environmentalism” or “movement for the environment” as a generic description for all those groups which defend the environment. However, it is possible to distinguish between 3 types of activism : 1) conservationism : action to preserve parts of the environment under threat ; 2) environmentalism : protection of the environment against the excesses of industrialism by adapting the economy and society to the environmental limits of the planet 3) ecologism : action to protect the environment based on the belief that human beings need to change their relationship to nature and replace industrialism with a sustainable system based on an ecocentric or Green paradigm.
FOE was created in San Francisco in 1969.
Indeed, it is possible to trace this interest in the environment back to the creation of the Royal Society in 1663. Philip Sutton, Explaining Environmentalism : In Search of a New Social Movement, Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 114.
Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 28, March 1974, 313.
In 1981, the RSNC replaced the SPNC (Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation) and was in turn replaced by the RSWT (Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts) in 2004. In 1976, the SPNC had itself replaced the SPNR (Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves), the original conservationist association founded by Charles Rothschild in 1912.
The NT was founded in 1895. In terms of membership, the RSNC and the NT had, respectively, 252,000 and 2,293,000 members in 1995.
Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, op. cit., 320. The proximity between the NT and Whitehall was also because of the unique situation created by the National Trust Act 1907 which gave the NT a legislative footing.
Stuart Brookes, A. Grant Jordan, Richard Kimber & Jeremy Richardson, “The Growth of the Environment as a Political Issue in Britain”, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 6, n°2, 1976, 253.
Wilson Campbell, “The Ecologist and the Alternative Technology Movement, 1970-75 : New Environmentalism Confronts ‘Technocracy’”, eSharp, n°12 : “Technology and Humanity”, 2008, 2 : <http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_102865_en.pdf>, retrieved on 5 July 2011.
As we have seen, the Conservation Society had already broached environmentalist themes since 1966 and Brookes et al. also showed in their environmental content analysis of The Times newspaper that “there was a consistent level of interest throughout the 1950s and 1960s […] with a marked increase in overall environmental coverage circa 1969”. Stuart Brookes et al., “The Growth of the Environment as a Political Issue in Britain”, op. cit., 253.
<http://www.edwardgoldsmith.org/page279.html>, accessed 03 April 2011.
Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers & William Behrens, The Limits to Growth, London : Earth Island, 1972.
<http://www.edwardgoldsmith.org/page279.html>, accessed 03 April 2011.
Sara Parkin lists these groups as : the Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, the Henry Doubleday Research Association and the Soil Association (Sara Parkin, Green Parties : An International Guide, London: Heretic Books, 1989, 214). She also suggests reasons for their withdrawal : “They may have been put off by a statement in the Blueprint which said that ‘if need be [the movement should] assume political status and contest the next general election’. However, subsequent commentators have suggested that Blueprint and other writings of one of the editors of The Ecologist, Edward Goldsmith, were ‘too reactionary’.” (ibid., 214-215). More recently, the British academic and ecologist, George Monbiot, made more serious claims in 2002. See <http://www.monbiot.com/2002/04/30/black-shirts-in-green-trousers/>, accessed 03 April 2011.
Sarah Birch, “Real Progress: Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 62, n°1, 2009, 16.
Brendan Prendiville, “The UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique, vol. XVI, n°1, 2011, 165-178.
Anthony Crosland, A Social Democratic Britain, London : Fabien Society (Tract 404) : <http://lib-161.lse.ac.uk/archives/fabian_tracts/404.pdf>, accessed 03 April 2011.
<http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/philosophical-basis>, accessed 07 April 2011.
This green paradigm goes beyond the GP and would include large sectors of the wider environmentalist movement.
“The term ‘holistic’ from the Greek ‘holos’ (whole), refers to an understanding of reality in terms of integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller units” (Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, London : Flamingo, 1985, 21).
“Anthropocentrism: the placing of humans at the centre of our preoccupations” (Luke Martell, Ecology and Society, Cambridge : Polity Press, 1994, 78.
The American sociologist, William Isaac Thomas made a similar observation in his theorem, “The Definition of the Situation” (“If men define things as real, they are real in their consequences” : <http://www.sociosite.net/topics/texts/thomas.php>, accessed 03 April 2011).
David Evans, A History of Nature Conservation in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 7. See also David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism : An Introduction, London : Routledge, 1996. Recent biological research provides further support to this “web of life” hypothesis (<http://www.physorg.com/news152274071.html>, accessed 03 April 2011).
“Ethical approaches which broaden the moral community to include non-human entities such as animals, based on the possession of some critical property such as sentience.” (Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001, 14).
On the difference between “shallow” and “deep” ecologists/Greens, see Arne Naess, “The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement : A summary”, Inquiry, vol. 16, n°1, 1973, 95-100: <http://www.ecology.ethz.ch/education/Readings_stuff/Naess_1973.pdf>, accessed 03 April 2011.
A cursory look at the chapter headings of these two manifestos illustrates this ; 1979 Manifesto: “The Real Alternative” / “Why Ecology ?” / “The Crisis in our Economy” / “The Crisis in our Society” / “Priorities for Action” / “Work/Family and Community” / “Government” / “Education” / “Health” / “Food, Agriculture” / “Energy” / “Transport” / “The Environment” / “Resources” / “International Foreign Affairs and Defence” / “The Third World” / “So Why Vote Ecology ?”; 2010 Manifesto: “Managing the Economy” / “Everyday Life” / “Citizens and Government” / “Our Environment” / “International Development, Peace and Security”.
G. Lynn Bennie, N. Mark Franklin & Wolfgang Rüdig, “Green Dimensions : The Ideology of the British Greens”, in Wolfgang Rüdig (ed.), Green Politics, Three, Edinburgh University Press, 1995, 217-239.
Ibid., 236. Florence Faucher also noted a similar phenomenon amongst the British Greens (Florence Faucher, Les Habits verts de la politique, Paris : Presses de Sciences Politiques, 1999, 143-145).
Paul Byrne, Social Movements in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 153.
Florence Faucher, “Manger vert : choix alimentaires et identité politique chez les écologistes français et britanniques”, Revue Française de Science Politique, n°3-4, 1998, 437-457.
The ecological footprint of a given population (or person) is the amount of productive land necessary to satisfy its consumption needs and the absorption of its waste.
“6 percent of the population, or 3.6 million people” (<http://www.raw-food-health.net/NumberOfVegetarians.html>, accessed 04 April 2011).
One British Green eventually turned vegetarian due to her habit of seeing animals as humans : “I’ve always anthromorphosised animals, giving them human features” (“j’ai toujours anthropomorphisé les animaux, je leur donne des traits de caractères humains”), quoted in Florence Faucher, Les Habits verts de la politique, op. cit., 148.
“People in educational establishments should have the choice of both eating and, in the case of Catering and Home Economics courses, preparing vegetarian and vegan foods. We will therefore :
1. instruct the Department of Education and Science to make provision for vegetarian and vegan meals to be a compulsory part of the syllabus for all catering certificates, and,
2. produce comprehensive information on vegetarian/vegan diets for distribution to all Local Authorities together with instructions that a vegetarian/vegan choice of meal be made available at all education establishments within the Authorities’ remit.” (<http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ar>, AR404 accessed 07 April 2011). The PSS is the document bringing together all areas of GP policy.
The 2001 General Election Manifesto is entirely devoted to the theme of justice. See the chapter headings : “A just economics” / “The just society” / “Ecological justice” / “Securing justice globally” / “Democratic justice” (<http://www.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2004/2001%20General%20Election%20manifesto.pdf>, accessed 07 April 2011).
That is, aid which helps poor countries to become more autonomous and does not simply make them more dependent on the West.
<http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/philosophical-basis>, PB106 accessed 07 April 2011.
“To make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is” (<http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/greenwash>, accessed 07 April 2011).
<http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/ec>, EC903 accessed 07 April 2011.
<http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/in>, IN205 accessed 07 April 2011.
<http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/tm>, TM003 accessed 07 April 2011.
Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, London : Abacus, 1974.
In 1981 Greenpeace-UK had 30,000 members ; by 1991 it had 312,000 members : Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, op. cit., 133.
M. Thatcher called it “the biggest road-building programme since the Romans”, quoted in Richard Sadler, “Roads to ruin”, The Guardian, 13 December 2006 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/dec/13/guardiansocietysupplement3>, accessed 04 April 2011.
One famous eco-protester, Merrick, described this aim as making life “difficult, lengthy, expensive” for the authorities (Merrick, Battle for the Trees, Leeds : Godhaven Ink, 1996, 33).
Brian Doherty, “Paving the Way : The Rise of Direct Action against Road-Building and the Changing Character of British Environmentalism”, Political Studies, vol. 47, n°2, 1999, 290.
James Radcliffe, Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy ?, Basingstoke : Palgrave, 2002, 196.
<https://www.earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/whatisef>, accessed 24 March 2011.
Camps set up to protest at climate change.
John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, London : Earthscan, 1991, 34.
<http://www.sera.org.uk/index.php?id=9>, accessed 07 April 2011.
John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.
SERA letter to CLP, March 1982, quoted in Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992, 151.
James Radcliffe, Green Politics : Dictatorship or Democracy ?, op. cit., 170.
John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.
“Assembly and Council Resolutions 1972”, Liberal Party Archives, London School of Economics.
Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 202.
<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/environment.htm>, accessed 04 April 2011. These all-party groups are defined as “informal, cross-party, interest groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it. They should not be confused with select committees, which are formal institutions of the House.” (<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/register.pdf>, accessed 04 April 2011).
“The Environmental Audit Committee considers the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and it audits their performance against any sustainable development and environmental protection targets […].” (<http://www.parliament.uk/eacom>, accessed 04 April 2011).
<http://www.labour-party.org.uk/manifestos/1997/1997-labour-manifesto.shtml>, accessed 04 April 2011.
<http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/about-us.html>, accessed 04 April 2011.
Jonathon Porritt was a founder member of today’s Green Party and Forum for the Future (see below). He is also an ex-director of FOE.
James Randerson, “Cameron : I want coalition to be the ‘greenest government ever’”, The Guardian, 14 May 2010: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/14/cameron-wants-greenest-government-ever>, accessed 10 April 2011. See also <http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=13552>.
John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 24. It should, however, be pointed out that McCormick’s book was published in 1991, at the end of a difficult decade for environmentalists.
“Looking back, thinking forward... 25 years of Green Alliance, 1979-2004” (<, accessed 04 April 2011">http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/uploadedFiles/Our_Work/LookingBackThinkingForward.pdf>, accessed 04 April 2011 ).
<http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/aboutus/>, accessed 04 April 2011.
Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 96.
<http://www.neweconomics.org/content/history-nef>, accessed 04 April 2011.
<http://www.forumforthefuture.org/about-us>, accessed 04 April 2011.
Sarah Birch, “Real Progress : Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, op. cit., 14.
Adam Vaughan (data blog), “A history of CO2 emissions”, The Guardian, 2 September 2009 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/co2-emissions-historical>, accessed 04 April 2011. This article also points out that : “It’s also worth bearing in mind that many developed countries’ share of emissions go back before this data begins. As the leader of the industrial revolution, the UK in particular was responsible for significant carbon emissions in the 19th century.”
See Brendan Prendiville, “The UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, op. cit.
<http://www.thebigask.eu/history-of-the-big-ask>, accessed 04 April 2011.
Derek Wall, Earth First ! and the Anti-Roads Movement, London : Routledge, 1999, 91.
Wallace McNeish, “The Vitality of Local Protest : Alarm UK and the British Anti-roads Protest Movement”, in Benjamin Seel, Matthew Paterson & Brian Doherty, Direct Action in British Environmentalism, London : Routledge, 2000, 196.
Nicholas Watt & John Vidal, “Forests sell-off abandoned as Cameron orders U-turn”, The Guardian, 16 February 2011 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/16/forests-sell-off-cameron-uturn>, accessed 04 April 2011.
John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 34.
Idem. See also Philip Lowe & Jane Goyder, Environmental Groups in Politics, London : Allen & Unwin, 1983, 1.
Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, op. cit., 132.
Tim Webb, “E.ON shelves plans to build Kingsnorth coal plant”, The Guardian, 20 October 2010: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/20/kingsnorth-coal>, accessed 05 July 2011.
Green movements world-wide have attempted to maintain this party-movement attachment, the most successful no doubt being the German Greens.
Stephen Cotgrove & Andrew Duff, “Environmentalism, Middle Class Radicalism and Politics”, Sociological Review, vol. 28, n°2, 1980, 341. This was a study based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of environmentalist literature and actors in the debate (environmentalists, business leaders, general public).
Jonathon Porritt, Seeing Green : The Politics of Ecology Explained, Oxford : Blackwell, 1984, 216-217. When J. Porritt’s book was published, he was a leading member of the Ecology Party.Haut de page