This has been on mind with the ‘Big Society’ (BS), using local leaders, who ever they are? “We are at the foothills of dealing with the challenge of climate change and need business to take the lead” said the then Secretary for the Environment, Margaret Becket, six years ago in her quest to accelerate emissions cuts from corporates. Like the BS she tried to take the very best and hoped that others would follow, but it didn’t quite work out. Businesses need frameworks and incentives to innovate. If they can make a difference that is distinctive, competitive and generates income then they’re in. We’ve seen M&S Plan A, Wall Mart’s commitment to sustainable fish, The Co-Op’s ethical services and Cadbury’s commitment to Fairtrade cocoa from Ghana. These are having impact but alongside the others, who are doing less, are tiny. Environmental charities only have one agenda and that is to achieve change. They have passionate supporters, about 6.5 million of the main ones, who believe in what the charities are doing. Charities are not afraid to campaign against environmental injustices like dangerous chemicals, drive real change with initiatives like the Marine Stewardship Council, force new legislation like the Marine Bill and the Wildlife Trade Act. But perhaps more importantly 7% of England (or 22,556,352 acres) is made up of charity run land, managed by the National Trust, RSPB, Wildfowl and Wetlands and the Church of England. Collectively these spaces have inspired and changed many people’s views. You won’t hear about a Fizzy Drink Company stopping one of it’s Fizzy drinks to enable it to fund a local beach clean up or to support a local wood. That’s because most company environmental policies are internally focused, short-term and about sorting out their own mess, rather than helping others. Therefore the real powerhouse of environmental change has come from environmental charities, focused on long-term change, rather than the corporate big boys.