Johan Eliasch: A multimillionaire with a conscience

Ben Russell
Saturday 08 September 2007 00:00

When Johan Eliasch was a child he used to long for the months of winter snows that allowed him to ski to school.

Today the millionaire businessman bemoans the loss of the cold winters of his childhood to global warming.

An archetypal global business tycoon he manages to combine his career as chairman of the Head sports empire, banker and film producer with his position as one of Britain's leading green philanthropists.

The Swede spent an estimated £8m on a 400,000-acre swathe of the Amazon simply to save the pristine rainforest from logging devastation, and he is encouraging others to buy more Amazonian land through his environmental trust, Cool Earth.

The grandson of a wealthy industrialist, he, is a talented sportsman who has skied at international level.

Yesterday the 45-year-old tycoon, ranked 211th in The Sunday Times rich list, completed his journey across the political divide which has taken him from Conservative Party financier and Tory deputy treasurer to an official adviser to the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

He loaned the Conservative Party £2.6m, which will now have to be repaid, and served on the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice, the think-tank established by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The businessman's move away from the Conservatives was a major blow to the party leader David Cameron. He is said to have left the Conservatives because of concerns that the party is moving to the right.

He has identified deforestation as a key battleground in the fight against global warming, arguing that preventing the destruction of the rainforests is the most effective means of reducing global carbon emissions. He is to conduct a review on deforestation and clean energy as the Prime Minister's special representative.

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