My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
In the end Mr Cameron spoke for seven minutes yesterday about renewable energy and the green economy.
You can read (and watch) his speech here.
What did I think?
The first thing to say was that it was pleasing to hear Mr Cameron state the importance of action today to help protect the planet for future generations. Inter-generational equity is at the heart of the sustainable development mission.
Yet, if you read/watch it, I am sure that you will agree that it was a missed opportunity to outline what needs to be done to tackle climate change and the importance of greenhouse gas emissions being reduced in line with the science.
Nearly 15,000 supporters from the RSPB and other organisations such as 38 degrees had urged the Prime Minister to call on the EU to reduce emissions by 30% from 1990 levels by 2020. This action from developed nations is necessary to keep concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases at safe levels to prevent global temperature rises of more than 2 degrees Centrigrade abover pre-industrial levels.
However, the Prime Minister did recommit to a renewable energy revolution and argued that the UK was open for business for those wishing to invest in clean technologies. He showcased some of the developments, including progress on offshore wind, for which the UK should be proud. I will return to offshore wind soon as there are some major challenges, particularly relating to understanding and managing impacts on wildlife, which have yet to be resolved.
As yet, however, the energy package does not add up to a coherent response to the climate change challenge. As with the Chancellor's budget, there is laudable ambition for renewables but this appears to be out of kilter with tax-breaks for high risk deep sea oil drilling and support for other forms of dirty energy.
A partial statement about our energy ambition will not realistically earn the Government the 'greenest ever' tag.
What we need is a comprehensive and coherent approach which is honest about the scale of the climate change challenge and clear about the Government's response plan. It is the role of a Prime Minister to lay this out in full. I look forward to hearing a speech on this subject soon.
What did you think of Mr Cameron's speech?
It would be great to hear your views.
Bob - you are absolutely right. The only thing to say is that the benchmark for judging success is not exactly challenging...
"A partial statement about our energy ambition will not realistically earn the Government the 'greenest ever' tag."
I was slightly surprised on the news item the other day to hear the Prime Minister actually use the words that the government is "the greenest government ever". Not "aspire to be" or "working towards". That statement was based on green energy issues. Surely the job is nowhere near done yet. I look forward to the Government achieving its aim but we aren't there yet.
Now Peter, be nice! This was a two-week action. We know that over 100,000 of our members have taken at least one action on climate change over the past five years. And more than 700,000 have taken at least one campaign action.
We were just one of four organisations focusing on this particular moment. But there will be more climate actions to come of all different shapes and sizes.
For these sort of actions we tend to target only a subset of the membership as there are, obviously costs associated with any promotion. The shorter the time frame, the smaller the number we target.
Am not trying to be too defensive but I hope goes some way to explaining why I still think this is a relatively decent response.
Correction 0.1 % of RSPB membership !
It is very disappointing the Mr Cameron consistently seems to fail to provide a lead on green issues when clearly they would help the general economic situation
I recently saw some work that state that lagoons can create as much tidal energy as barrages so if that is the case I "switch"; the important thing is to get production up.
The economy desperately needs a stimulus; I took some flack on RSPB members re posting a Labour party stimulus suggestion some months back ; well who was right ? The economy is now flatlining if even starting to spin back; this is dangerous; we all know what happened in Greece.
We are not Greece; we have less than half her debts so for the Tories to have drawn comparisons has been really criminal and they are now hung by their own ideological petard !
QE must go into "Green Growth" not continue to be sucked into propping up our overpriced property market. If the RSPB can help stimulate a proper "Green Growth " package ie insulating, investment in wind, tidal and wave but also we need 2 million homes; these should be planned with green space, allotments and gardens (just as RSPB members have).
You know I have been a critic of RSPB's low key tactics with regard to the presentation of climate change in its magazine Birds well is its membership up to speed here? I would say they are complacent with only 1.5% of RSPB membership signing the petition to the PM on this subject , when the science is grim, his depicts a priviliged membership with its hand firmly in the sand.
How is leadership across the RSPB to respond ? After all UK competiveness demands that we move swiftly to renewable sources as carbon will only multiply in cost exponentially; there is a real urgency here.