Interview with Colin Butfield, from environmental charity, WWF

Published on Friday, 22 March 2013 11:32
Written by Colin Butfield

Today we talked to Colin Butfield, Director of Campaigns and Public Engagement at WWF UK about Earth Hour (tomorrow), the Government's stance on the environment post-budget and eco-warriors.

Hi @wwf_colin, what is WWF doing to support Earth Hour?

Hi @STFSeries, we run Earth Hour in about 100 countries & have loads of cool stuff like celebrity recipes, live-streamed music  and  local events. You can find all this stuff at

Sounds great! Can you estimate how many people will be taking part in Earth Hour?

Last year there were 7m in UK and 100s of millions around the world- this year it looks like it might be bigger!

Why did WWF get involved in Earth Hour?

We wanted a fun way to show that a large part of the world wanted action on climate change & to protect the natural world. Earth Hour started in Australia and spread like wildfire which showed loads of people were up for it!

You recently met the PM to discuss this, how did it go and what did you talk about?

I went with about 20 school kids who had done amazing letters and art to show why he should take action on climate change and now he needs to deliver on that!

Hope so! What is the government doing to support WWF's work?

They've been really good on CFP reform to protect our oceans but we've yet to see that kind of action on renewable energy. It's a shame as renewables could be great for our economy and is supported by most of the population. We could be a real leader.

What else would you like to see the government doing in the future? How could you work together on renewable energy?

Setting a clear direction for decarb the power sector would give confidence to business. In turn WWF-UK can explain to the public why this is so important. With Earth Hour we are showing the huge support for a green economy and hope that gives government more confidence to lead.

#Budget2013 was on Weds, what announcements have the biggest affect on the environmental sector?

Giving subsidies to nuclear & tax breaks to fossil fuels whilst not mentioning renewables at all is a big problem especially as growth rate for green economy is around 5% pa. This does not seem to be long term planning for a stable environment or economy.

How do you believe the budget reflected this Government's intentions for climate change?

I have to hope it doesn't! There's an opportunity with the upcoming energy bill to really do something significant & we're trying to show with Earth Hour that if they were bold on climate change then most of this country would support it.

How do you feel about the expansion to Hinkley Point? (Think I may know the answer already)

I think you do! This focus should go to energy efficiency and renewables. They've not looked at how over budget other reactors in Europe have been or considered the long term economic (and potential environmental) costs of storing waste.

Our Twitter follower @roseheather1 says: The problem is that everyone wants electricity, no one wants it to be made near to them.

That's true-which is why energy efficiency is so important, eg we waste about 60% of all energy used in homes

Do you believe environmentalists have finally removed the shackles of "eco warriors"?

Good question! It's definitely more of a mainstream thing now. Certainly few of WWFs supporters fit the stereotype. But it's sometimes still hard to get the economic arguments across to some people who think this is all leftwing ecotalk. Hopefully we're busting that myth with a wide range of public & bus support from across the political spectrum.

And finally, how can people get involved with WWF besides donating?

Support Earth Hour at  or support our campaigns via our Facebook page.

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