Woman’s Hour Power List: Caroline Lucas tops roundup of female environmentalists and climate change activists

‘We need much faster action,’ says former leader of The Green Party

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
,Olivia Petter
Monday 16 November 2020 12:39 GMT
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Caroline Lucas has clinched the top spot in the power list compiled by BBC Radio 4’s eminent Woman’s Hour programme.

The 2020 Woman’s Hour Power List shines a light on 30 women who are committed to making the world a more sustainable place as the climate crisis rapidly escalates. 

Ms Lucas is followed by Farhana Yamin, an environmental lawyer, in second place, and Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, a clean air campaigner whose nine-year-old daughter’s death from asthma was the first to be linked to air pollution in Britain, in third place.

Mya-Rose Craig, an 18-year-old birder and environmentalist known by her moniker of Birdgirl, and Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, were in fourth and fifth place.

Woman’s Hour, who invited the show’s listeners to nominate women for the power list, said: “Our planet is a home for us all. But globally, women are on the frontline when it comes to the consequences of environmental change.

"They are the people most likely to collect water, food and fuel – all of which are becoming scarcer or more expensive. Women are also more likely to face poverty and financial insecurity, making them less able to adapt to a changing world. 

“This list aims to recognise and champion the women who are doing something about these issues.”

Lucy Siegle, a journalist who sat on this year’s panel, said Ms Lucas held “power to account” and her impact would increase yet further as the climate crisis ramps up.

She said: “The judges recognised that Caroline is the politician of our generation who almost uniquely uses environmental logic to make her decisions.

"She is able to explain scientific evidence in clear and impactful terms, is creative on policy and very alive to ideas, fearless in holding power to account and has unparalleled experience. Immediately recognisable as a key moderniser of the green movement (she was elected to the Green Party in 1999) – she is one of just a few recognised and trusted voices on the environment.”

Also featured on this year’s Power List is Mya-Rose, who founded the charity Black2Nature, which campaigns for equal access to nature for visibly minority ethnic people.

Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, also features on the list, as is activist Ella Daish thanks to her campaigns to remove plastic from period products.

Speaking on Woman’s Hour about topping the Power List, Ms Lucas explained why climate change is such an urgent issue.

“We have wasted so much of the last 30 years,” she said before going on to criticise the government’s plans to become net-zero in terms of emissions by 2050.

“Going for net-zero by 2050 is like dialling 999 and asking for the fire brigade to come in 30 years time, we need much faster action, we need urgent action,” Ms Lucas said on the programme.

Ms Lucas was the first Green Party MP in England and Wales and has been a constant advocate for climate issues throughout the decade.

“She’s shown consistent support for green issues like animal welfare, trade justice and green economics,” Woman’s Hour states. 

“Most recently, Caroline has been working to push through the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which will build on the Climate Change Act of 2008 by forcing the UK to enact a serious plan, and examine the UK’s carbon footprint as a whole.”

You can see the full Woman’s Hour Power List here.

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