New Years Honours 2020: The sustainability champions on the Queen's list

The 2020 New Year Honours list has recognised the outstanding achievements of more than 90 figures across the UK's environmental sphere, including green business figures, policy experts and scientists working to combat climate change and marine pollution.

Clockwise from top left: Professor James Yu, Barbara Vest, Professor Philip Jones and Rachel Kyte are among the green economy figures on this year's New Year honour list 

Clockwise from top left: Professor James Yu, Barbara Vest, Professor Philip Jones and Rachel Kyte are among the green economy figures on this year's New Year honour list 

CBEs have been given to the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) former chief economist Adrian Richard Gault, the Energy Saving Trust’s chief executive officer Philip Sellwood, and the Energy Data Taskforce’s recent chair Laura Sandys.

Sandys also serves as a non-executive director at the Energy Systems Catapult – an organisation working to deliver clean growth across the UK’s energy sector – and as an independent director at natural and green gas firm SGN. Bosses at the latter said: “Laura has led numerous high-profile initiatives to help shape the future of energy policy and is an advocate of advancing gender diversity in the energy sector. We’re grateful for the extensive industry experience and creativity [she] brings to our business.”

International Climate and Energy’s former director Peter Betts, meanwhile, was awarded a CB for his services to international climate change agreements.

Elsewhere, awards for services to climate and environmental science were given to the likes of the Natural Environment Research Council’s executive chair Duncan Wingham (Knights Batchelor); the University of Reading’s climate science professor Edward Hawkins (MBE); Science Advisory Council member Professor Timothy Jickells (OBE); plant scientist Professor Anne Osbourn (OBE) and Dr Helen Mckay (OBE), who heads the Centre for Sustainable Forestry and Climate Change.

Awards related to clean energy also featured heavily on the list, with recipients in this space including Rachel Kyte, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for sustainable energy (CMG); Renewable Energy Assurance Limited’s chief executive Virginia Graham (OBE); Ameresco’s director Mark Apsey (MBE) and SP Energy Networks’ future networks manager, Professor James Yu (MBE).

Yu’s team have said that he plays a “huge part” in helping SP Energy Networks’ business transition to net-zero, while also advocating for broader progress as a low-carbon policy advisor and STEM ambassador, mentor and lecturer.

Another key name to have received an energy-related award is Energy UK’s special advisor Barbara Vest (OBE). Vest recently sat on the Government’s Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) Cost Challenge Task Force and chairs the National Grid Joint European Stakeholder Group.

Not to mention... 

Other figures from the sustainability and energy space to have received honours on the 2020 New Years list include:

  • Professor Anthony Cheetham, research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science. He was handed a Knights Bachelor for his services to material chemistry, UK science and global outreach.
  • Defra’s former director-general Tamara Finkelstein was given a CB for public service.
  • Keep Britain Tidy’s chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton gained an MBE for services to the environment and social enterprise.
  • Defra’s deputy director for chemicals, Gabrielle Edwards, was presented a CBE for her services to the environment.
  • Defra’s recent EU exit programme director Emma Ward was awarded a CBE for services to Government and the green economy.
  • The University of Manchester’s professor of sustainable chemical engineering, Adisa Azapagic, was awarded an MBE for services to sustainability and carbon footprinting.
  • The Environment Agency’s sustainable business and development manager Catherine Tomlin received an MBE for services to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • BEIS’s policy lead for professional and business services Helen Baden received an MBE for her services to the Industrial Strategy, as well as to diversity and includion.
  • The University of Oxford’s professor of the environment and public policy, Sarah Whatmore, has been given a DBE for her services to the study of environmental policy.
  • The Welsh Government’s chief environmental health officer Christopher Brereton was awarded an OBE for services to environmental and public health.
  • Defra’s lead for chemical incident recovery, Georgina Collins, was handed an OBE for public service.
  • The Low-Carbon Research Institute’s chair Professor Phillip Jones gained an OBE for services to decarbonisation and architecture. Jones also chairs Architectural Science and the board of Warm Wales – a CIC working to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty.
  • Professor Timothy Walsh was handed an OBE for services to microbiology and international development.
  • BEIS’s deputy director of sector deals Alexander Williams was awarded an OBE for his services to economic and industrial development.
  • Hertfordshire-based naturalist Trevor James was awarded a BEM for his services to nature conservation. Over the past 40 years, he has personally collated more than one million biological records.

Sarah George



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