Greenhouse Pioneer: Dale Vince

Dale Vince is a campaigner through and through. He believes we can create a clean, green, low carbon Britain. He has conviction, integrity, vision and an ability to make the extraordinary happen.

Ecotricity's Dale VinceDale Vince is a campaigner through and through. He believes we can create a clean, green, low carbon Britain. He has conviction, integrity, vision and an ability to make the extraordinary happen.

Having founded Ecotricity in 1995 with what he once said was “no experience, training, qualifications or money,” he has built a business around making a difference.

Today, Ecotricity is the seventh-largest retail supplier of electricity in the UK and one of the biggest builders of wind turbines. The company’s 50-plus wind turbines power 40,000 homes and businesses across the UK.

Opinionated and outspoken, Dale Vince never hesitates to speak his mind, which includes exposing green wash and outing the Big Six energy companies on what little they are doing to create new green energy.

Dale puts his money where his mouth is: Ecotricity invests more than £400 per customer per year to build new green energy — far more than any competitor. He takes a modest salary and refuses outside investment, choosing instead to reinvest the company’s profits into building more wind turbines and creating new green energy.

Vince is this edition’s Eco Hero for his vision, passion and action toward protecting the environment and creating sustainable solutions. His imagination inspires us – from creating his own green wind powered electric sports car to his plans for a green tractor.

His vision for a green Britain encompasses energy, food and transport to radically change the way we live. (Follow his views on his Zero Carbonista blog.)

Dale Vince: hero indeed. Guest blogger Anna Shepard catches up with him.

How would you describe yourself?
I’m a blend of things, I think we all are. Best fit label wise is probably Environmentalist.

What is your mission?
To change things.

What do you care passionately about?

The environment in all senses of the word.

Why is green so important?
It just feels like the single most important thing on the planet and in life. What could be more precious? The environment is all we have.

What is the next big challenge?
The challenge for consumers is to consume less and consume more responsibly. The challenge for the green movement is to be more ‘user friendly’ to be more appealing and less off putting to ‘would be’ greens.

The challenge for governments is harder – we’re stuck with a system (5 years in office) that reinforces, or even forces, short term thinking among politicians and prevents what really needs doing.

What is the role of government?
Government should be setting the agenda, telling us all what needs doing and why – getting buy in for the tough decisions and changes that need to be made – and for the fight against vested interests that has to be had.

What would you like to achieve in your lifetime?
Not sure. As a perfectionist I don’t think I can have a realistic end game:..:)

What top 3 green/sustainable principles do you live by?
I don’t have any. I think sustainability is axiomatic, it doesn’t require too much thinking about or documentation of principles.

What one thing do you wish everyone would do?
Think more.

What one message/philosophy would you like to pass on to your children?
Life is short. Follow your heart.

How long have we got to save the planet?
I think the notion of a date by which we have to save the planet is misguided and unhelpful. We can’t know what needs doing by when to avoid the worst effects of climate change, for example. And in any event just avoiding the worst effects of that is not enough. To ‘save the planet’ we have to do so much more. It’s a mission of a lifetime, all our lifetimes, no matter how old we are, we all have only our lives within which we can do this.

Who is YOUR Eco Hero and why?
Anita Roddick, for creating the Body Shop and for the stuff she did with it.


Photo: Dale Vince by Adrian Sherratt