John Ashton is a Founding Director of E3G. He was the Special Representative for Climate Change to the UK Foreign Secretary from 2006 to 2012. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to international climate change.
John is one of a new generation of diplomats equally at home in the worlds of foreign policy and green politics. Before moving outside government to establish E3G in 2005, John had a distinguished career in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including founding and leading its Environment Policy Department.
A major theme of John’s career has been China. He speaks Chinese. He was an adviser to Governor Chris Patten in Hong Kong from 1993-7. His first diplomatic assignment, from 1981-4, was as Science Attaché in the British Embassy in Beijing. He also has experience at high level on a wide range of European and global issues, including as a political officer in the British Embassy in Rome from 1988-93.
John was the first Chief Executive of E3G in 2005-06, before returning to the UK Foreign Office as the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change. His role supported Ministers in building a stronger foundation for an effective response to climate change. He had the personal title of Ambassador with direct access to the Foreign Secretary. John played a key role in designing the FCO’s climate change network and strategy, with its focus on climate stability as a precondition for security, prosperity and equity, and on strategic political engagement with the emerging and other major economies.
John has been continuously active in climate diplomacy in various capacities since 1997. He was involved in negotiating the EU 2020 package on climate change in spring 2007 and the decision in December 2008 on funding for CCS across Europe. He helped negotiate the agreement in 2005 between the EU and China to demonstrate zero emission coal technology in China, and was closely involved in the EU’s engagement with Russia over the Kyoto Protocol. He played a key role in the first UN security debate on climate change in April 2007. He was a senior member of the UK negotiating team in the UN climate negotiations from 1998-2002, and again at Copenhagen.
John Ashton is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College London, and a Member of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding. He is a steering committee member of Climate Care and serves on the Advisory Boards of the Climate Institute, Washington DC; the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research; the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara; and Climate Change Capital.