Neil Thorns

Director of Advocacy and Communications at CAFOD and Chair of the Climate Coalition which has 120 organisations with 15 million members.

Let's start with some background information - who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Neil Thorns, I've worked across a number of different NGOs and now work with CAFOD to lead on our influencing work to address the causes of poverty and injustice.  I'm also lucky enough to chair the Climate Coalition which is an excellent coalition of over 120 organisations working together to tackle climate change.

How did you get into the sustainability sector?

Working at CAFOD and before, it's clear that climate change represents one of the greatest challenges to our work in addressing poverty and injustice.  It threatens the good work which has been achieved and presents us a very grave threat for the future unless we act urgently.

What are the biggest challenges that the planet is facing right now?

We must achieve greater ambition if we are to stop global temperature rising above 1.5 degrees and the huge impacts that will have.  We need to ensure that small island states aren't buried under rising sea levels, we need to ensure that people living in poverty are given the resources they need to adapt to the conditions around them and we all need to look at the way we lead our lives and ask what we can we do.

If you could change one thing to improve the way we live today, what would that be?

It's not very specific, but our behaviour must reflect the fact that we live in a global community, on a beautiful planet which we want to cherish and pass on to future generations in a good state.  So that means all our actions, our energy providers, the food we consume and how we travel all have consequences to our global community.

How do you think leadership around sustainability issues will change in the years to come?

I hope that the voices of those who are living with climate change and those indigenous groups who have so much to teach us about protecting the planet will be in the ascendency and start to lead to conversations on how we do things.

Which moment or sustainability innovation has struck you most or made your life easier or saved you time and money?

I would say the invention of the bicycle - a brilliant invention.  But more recently the renewable developments are fantastic.  I live in Brighton and I love to look out to sea to the Rampion wind farm, especially at night when it's lit up - beautiful!

What would you say to those who are not yet convinced of or bothered enough about the need for greater climate action?

Who doesn't want cleaner air, who doesn't want to keep all the wildlife and fauna which is around us and really who doesn't want to say that they did their bit for the next generation?

Orangutan with a baby

A few quickfire questions:

Favourite UK Holiday Destination?
Manchester or the Peak District.

The one animal you would want to save for future generations?

Perfect meal?
As a vegetarian, I love anything from Anna Jones cookbooks but my favourite is her Buddha Bowls

Finally - do you know of any amazing planet savers that we should interview?  If so, who and why?

Phil Kingston - he set up Grandparents against climate change, he's incredibly energetic and committed and has been working on these issues all his life, truly inspirational.


The Climate Coalition is a group of over 130 organisations - including the National Trust, Women's Institute, Oxfam, and RSPB - reaching across the UK to show our love for all the things we want to protect from climate change, and to ask politicians to put aside their differences and commit to doing whatever is necessary to protect them.

CAFOD is the official Catholic aid agency for England and Wales, and part of Caritas International.

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