John Ashton is an independent speaker, commentator and adviser. His activities range widely over politics, economics, diplomacy, and culture but his particular focus is climate change.
From 2006-12 John served as Special Representative for Climate Change for three successive UK Foreign Secretaries, spanning the current Coalition and the previous Labour Governments. The UK Foreign Office pioneered during this time a diplomacy-led approach to climate change that came to be widely admired.
He was a cofounder and, from 2004-6, the first Chief Executive of E3G. From 1978-2002, after a brief period as a research astronomer, he was a career diplomat. He served in Beijing in the early 1980s and in Hong Kong in the runup to the handover of sovereignty. He speaks Chinese, and China was a recurrent theme in much of his diplomatic work.
He holds visiting professorships at the London School of Economics and the London University School of Oriental and African Studies. He is a Trustee of the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Tipping Point, and a member of the Advisory Board of Post Crash Economics. He stood down in August 2014 from the Board of E3G to concentrate on his speaking activity.