Tom Burke is currently an Environmental Policy Adviser to Rio Tinto plc and a Visiting Professor at Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a Senior Advisor to the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change, and a Founding Director of E3G, Third Generation Environmentalism. He writes a regular political column in ENDS magazine. He has recently been appointed to the External Review Committee of Shell and the Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board of Unilever.
He has been an environmentalist since first joining a Friends of the Earth local group in 1971. He joined the FoE staff in 1973 as its local groups coordinator and became its Executive Director in 1975. He was the Director of the Green Alliance from 1982 until 1991 when he became Michael Heseltine’s Special Advisor. While at the Green Alliance he ran for Parliament twice for the SDP and the Liberal Democrats.
He played a leading part in establishing the European Environment Bureau for nearly two decades and was the Secretary-General of the European and North American NGO preparations for the Rio Earth Summit. As a Special Advisor to three Secretaries of State for the Environment he was intimately involved in a wide range of international negotiations as well as all aspects of domestic environment policy.
Having begun developing dialogues with business while at the Green Alliance, he went to work for Rio Tinto and BP on leaving government in 1997. At Rio Tinto he created the Global Mining Initiative which engaged the industry globally with sustainable development and drafted Rio Tinto’s first climate policy in 1998. He also joined the Council of English Nature, the government’s statutory advisor on biodiversity where he served two terms until 2003.
He has written and broadcast extensively and coined the term ‘green growth’ in 1987 in a book with John Elkington, “The Green Capitalists”. He remains actively involved on a wide range of environmental issues, working with NGOs, government and business. He is particularly active on energy and climate issues and is a prominent critic of the government’s policy on nuclear power.
When not working he is a keen birder – life list approaching 3,000 – and photographer.