History of Cap & Share

The 'Cap & Share' proposal on this website is equivalent to a similar proposal called 'Cap and Dividend', but applied globally (for more details, see the Alternatives and Variants page of this website).

Cap & Share was developed - and the name coined - by Feasta, an Irish-based think-tank (although the original 'classic' Cap & Share proposal had a slightly different distribution mechanism for the 'Share'). Feasta's full name is the the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, and the word "feasta" (pronounced 'fasta') is an Irish Gaelic word meaning "in the future".

Meanwhile, Cap & Dividend for the USA was proposed by Peter Barnes, and a similar idea called 'Kyoto 2' was also proposed by Oliver Tickell (see Alternatives and Variants).

From 2006 to 2014 a campaigning organisation promoted C&S in the UK. We maintained close links with Feasta and the Irish campaign; we talked to government ministers and civil servants, academics and environmental groups, and also publicised C&S through a variety of meetings, conferences and public talks around the country. We also produced the book "Sharing for Survival".

The group consisted of Laurence Matthews (Chair), Brian Davey (Co-ordinator), Mike Thomas (Treasurer); together with Nick Bardsley, Milena Büechs, John Jopling, Justin Kenrick, David Knight, David Thorpe and Caroline Whyte, and was helped by other members of Feasta, including James Bruges and Richard Douthwaite (one of the main originators of the idea). An early driving force was Will Howard: see the tribute to Will at the bottom of this page. The group was in contact with Peter Barnes of 'Cap & Dividend' in the USA, Aubrey Meyer of 'Contraction and Convergence', DECC, the Sustainable Development Commission, various groups in the UK who are looking at Personal Carbon Trading and TEQs, and many more.

Cap & Share now features in several books; it was picked as one the 'Breakthrough Ideas for the 21st Century' by the UK Sustainable Development Commission; it also features in the 'Zero Carbon Britain' report produced by CAT, the UK's Centre for Alternative Technology. Cap & Share as an idea is now 'out there' in environmental and policy-making circles, and we hope that people will pick up and run with it at a policy and campaign level.

But the underlying problem remains, of mustering the political will to get serious about confronting climate change - until we can achieve that, the policy details can wait. As a result, those of us who have been involved in promoting C&S decided in 2014 to close down the direct campaigning group (while keeping this website available for reference) and to move on to other activities:

  • an indirect campaign towards Cap & Share through legal approaches;

  • bringing the ideas behind Cap & Share to a wider audience (for example through the book Framespotting);

  • campaigning for a global C&S scheme through the Cap Global Carbon initiative in the run-up to Paris;

  • contributing to the general effort to limit fossil fuel extraction, through local action and supporting the 'keep it in the ground' and 'fossil free divestment' campaigns.

In all this the idea of Cap & Share is still there -  and we will work for it through these processes - as an end goal and ultimate aspiration.

Below there is an archive of the 'News' page which used to appear on this site.


An archive of news items, most recent at the top.


May 2015 - 'Cap Global Carbon' launched

A team from the climate group of Feasta launched the CapGlobalCarbon campaign, arguing for a non-governmental Trust to operate a global Cap & Dividend scheme.

The group is organising a presences at the 'side events' at the COP21 climate talks in Paris in December 2015. See the CapGlobalCarbon website for more.


October 2014 - 'Framespotting' published

Alison & Laurence Matthews launched their book Framespotting, which features Cap & Share prominently, at an event held at Richard Booth's Bookshop in Hay on Wye.

Framespotting cover

Framespotting is published by IFF Books and is available as a paperback or as an eBook. See the Framespotting website for more.


December 2013, London - 'Radical Emission Reduction' conference

Milena Büchs, Nick Bardsley, Brian Davey, John Jopling and Laurence Matthews attended the Radical Emission Reduction conference organised by the Tyndall Centre at the Royal Society in London on 10-11 December 2013. More details of the conference here. Some of the presentations are available on this site.

Here is Laurence's poster for the conference poster session.


December 2013, Hay on Wye, UK - 'Zoom Control'

Alison & Laurence Matthews gave a talk, Zoom Control, which featured Cap & Share, at the Hay Festival Winter Weekend in Hay on Wye on December 1st. .

Their book Framespotting, based on the same ideas as Zoom Control, was published by IFF Books in October 2014. See the Framespotting website for more. (You can hear a recording of the 'Zoom Control' talk by going to the 'Authors' page there).


June 2013, Winchester - conference on 'Fresh approaches to tackling climate change'

Feasta (The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) and WinACC (Winchester Action on Climate Change) ran a 2-day conference on 'Fresh approaches to tackling climate change', in Winchester on 29 and 30 June 2013

Governments aren't tacking the climate crisis - so what can we do? This seminar was part of an ongoing global discussion to explore opportunities for new kinds of action.

Saturday's workshop looked at the potential to mitigate climate change through legal action:'How might the courts be used to tackle climate change?' The day's seminar is seen as a stepping stone towards the possibility of an actual legal case against fossil fuel companies or governments brought by plaintiffs presently suffering from damage caused by climate change or threatened with future damage. It seeks to build on the history of legal actions (the latest being the action threatened against the Dutch Government) and the body of expert publications (see Climate Change Liability   - Transnational Law and Practice edited by Richard Lord et al. and Risky Business: The Threat of Climate Litigation to the Fossil Fuel Industry by Kristin Casper).

Participants included Kelly Matheson of Witness who is working on Atmospheric Trust Litigations in the US; Kristin Casper, Greenpeace International's legal counsel and advisor on international environmental law and legal aspects of campaigning; and Roger Cox, the lawyer heading up the threatened action against the Dutch Government, and John Jopling of the C&S group.

Sunday's workshop consisted of discussions around a series of presentations and discussions:

  • Grandfalloons - which emission reduction proposals make no sense at all? (Brian Davey)

  • What is needed to get Cap and Share off the ground? (Laurence Matthews)

  • Personal carbon allowances for domestic energy demand reduction (Tom Rushby)

  • What other policy packages are needed? (Nick Bardsley)

  • How to tackle transport emissions? (Phil Gagg and Chris Gillham)

  • Could behaviour change work and, if so, whose behaviour and how changed? (Milena Büchs)

  • Could commons (shared community ownership) initiatives work? (Skype presentation, Justin Kenrick)


June 2013, Berlin - conference on 'the economics of the commons'

Brian Davey and Justin Kenrick of C&S attendied this conference on 'the economics of the commons'. Their focus is on 'enabling a global climate commons pathway through protecting, networking and legislating for local commons systems'. There are fruitful connections between local ways of organising a local commons (a common resource such as a fishery or a forest) and the steps necessary to achieve an effective system to manage a global commons such as the Earth's atmosphere.


April 2013, Zagreb - 'degrowth' conference

Brian Davey of C&S spoke in Zagreb in late April at a conference on 'degrowth' (achieving a steady-state economy) in small countries on the european periphery'. The conference was sponsored by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Germany.

Brian also spoke to another group in Ljubljana in Slovenia, en route.



April 2012 - launch of Sharing for Survival

This book features essays by several authors connected with Cap & Share, and looks in detail at many of the questions which arise in looking at how Cap & Share would work in practice in developing countries. It also looks at links with other policies and wider legal and regulatory frameorks.

S4S cover

The book was launched at Machynlleth in Wales at the annual meeting of the Feasta Climate Group, held this year at the Centre for Alternative Technology. The book is being published by Feasta in Ireland, and distributed by Green Books in the UK. It is available on Amazon.co.uk here and there is a website dedicated to the book here.


May 2011, Brussels - Meeting with the EU Commission

Brian Davey & Laurence Matthews met officials from the Climate Action Directorate-General of the European Commission at their offices in Brussels on 12 May 2011.

Attending the meeting were Mrs Yvon Slingenberg, Head of Unit B1 (Implementation of the EU ETS); Johannes Enzmann, who kindly arranged the meeting, also of Directorate B (which addresses Carbon Markets); Jan Nill from Directorate A (Strategy) and Eduardas Kazakevicius representing Directorate C (Adaptation & Low-Carbon Technology).

We wanted to explore future possibilities for extending the EU ETS using upstream approaches (see the 'Hybrids' section in the 'Alternatives' page of this website) and to outline some of the principles behind C&S, in particular with regard to the political counterweight it might give to corporate lobbying.

The meeting was a useful exploration of issues surrounding implementation of policies at the EU level, their negotiation and agreement beforehand, and the relations between the EU and member states.


December 2010 - Cap & Share video produced

We have produced a short promotional video explaining Cap & Share. According to the press release: 'As climate negotiations struggle to rescue anything face-saving from the ashes of Copenhagen, and as the planetcontinues to heat up regardless, a simple idea called Cap & Share -which would simultaneously control emissions and boost equality - hasbeen gaining attention. Of course, the prospect of cutting out all the financial middle-men does not appeal to everyone, as a covert video recently obtained byfreakyleaks demonstrates only too well .... '

The video can be seen on youtube here, or you can view it in the Useful Stuff section of this website here.

Tell your friends and contacts!


November 2010 - C&S in Fleeing Vesuvius

Several members of the C&S group have contributed chapters to the book Fleeing Vesuvius, edited by Richard Douthwaite and Gillian Fallon, and published by Feasta in November 2010. There is a chapter specifically on C&S called "Cap & Share: Simple is Beautiful" and many other chapters deali with related topics. THe general theme of the book is confronting economic and environmental collapse, and the psychological and political responses t our current predicament.

The book is available on Amazon and sections will be available for download from the Feasta website.


October 2010, Bristol - Schumacher conference

A major report, Zero Carbon Britain 2030 produced by CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, features Cap & Share prominently, alongside TEQs, as possible methods to implement proposals to reduce the net carbon emissions of the UK to zero by 2030. (See the 'June 2010' item below).

The report formed the main topic of discussion at the 2010 annual conference of the Schumacher Society, held in Bristol on 16 October 2010. More details of the conference can be found here.


October 2010 - C&S in the 'Climate Policy' journal

A special issue of the scientific journal Climate Policy, edited by Yael Parag and Tina Fawcett of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, is devoted to Personal Carbon Trading. It contains a short paper 'Upstream, Downstream' by Laurence Matthews comparing PCT with C&S and in particular commenting on the psychological 'framing' of the two approaches. More details on Amazon here.


June 2010 - Cap & Share featured in CAT's Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report

A major report, Zero Carbon Britain 2030 produced by CAT, the Centre for Alternative Technology, features Cap & Share prominently, alongside TEQs, as possible methods to implement proposals to reduce the net carbon emissions of the UK to zero by 2030. You can download the report from the ZCB website here.


March 2010 - Cap & Share in the book 'Countdown'

Cap & Share features in the book Countdown, written by Michael Thomas. The book looks at a global response to global warming, peak oil and the resulting economic crisis, advocating a new approach called 'philonomics'. The book also features the work of FIOH, the 'Future In Our Hands' network. You can order or browse the book here.


February 2010 - Scotland

Members of the UK Cap & Share team joined with the Feasta climate group's annual meeting, held this year at Findhorn near Inverness on February 26-28 2010.


February 2010, UK - The Economist supportive of Cap & Dividend

In an article in the Feb 4th 2010 edition about the CLEAR bill in the US Senate, The Economist says, "Of all the bills that would put a price on carbon, cap-and-dividend seems the most promising. (A carbon tax would be best of all, but has no chance of passing.)"


December 2009, USA - "Cap & Dividend" Bill introduced in the US Senate.

Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington State introduced the CLEAR Bill (which would implement "Cap & Dividend") in the US Senate.


December 2009 - London

Brian Davey, Mike Thomas & Laurence Matthews met Joan Ruddock (Minister in Defra with responsibility for climate change) and three staff from DECC (the Deprtment for Energy & Climate Change) at the House of Commons on 7 December 2009. We were glad to have the opportunity to put forward the case for Cap & Share, and the Minister said she would be considering the idea.


December 2009 - London

The 'Stop Climate Chaos' coalition organised a massive demonstration called 'The Wave' in London on 5 December 2009, the weekend before the Copenhagen talks opened. Some 50,000 people marched through London to Westminster, encircling the Houses of Parliament.

Cap & Share UK, as part of this coalition, took part. Sharp-eyed viewers of CNN, and of Channel 4 News in the UK, will have seen the 'Cap & Share' placards among a host of others.

CNN screenshot

A small number of SCC representatives met afterwards with the Prime Minister, and two delegates from C&S UK joined the Q&A session with Ed Milliband (UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change at the time).

For more, see the SCC website here. (SCC is now renamed 'The Climate Coalition').


November 2009 - Winchester conference

Cap & Share was joint sponsor of a 2-day conference on 'The transition to low carbon: policy frameworks and community action', held in The Discovery Centre, Winchester on 20 and 21 November 2009.

The workshop examined policy and independent local initiatives, ahead of vitally important international negotiations at the Copenhagen UN Conference of the Parties in December.

Speakers included - on Day 1 -

  • Richard Douthwaite (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability),

  • Sam Fankhauser (London School of Economics and Committee on Climate Change),

  • Alan Simpson MP,

  • Colin Challen MP,

  • Simon Roberts (Arup, Foresight Group),

  • Graham Tubb (South East England Development Agency),

  • David Fleming (The LEan Economy Connection),

  • Brian Davey (Cap and Share UK),

  • Peter Lipman (Sustrans, and Chair of Trustees of the Transition Network)

- and on Day2 -

  • Peter Harper (Centre for Alternative Technology),

  • Richard Douthwaite (Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability),

  • Patrick Andrews (RiverSimple),

  • Steve Clare (Development Trusts Association),

  • Anna Hope (Ecomotive),

  • Sue Riddlestone (BioRegional),

  • Jerome Baddeley (Nottingham Energy Partnership),

  • Adam Twine (Westmill Co-operative),

  • Robin Murray (The Young Foundation)

The meeting was organised by Cap and Share UK, the University of Southampton & Winchester Action on Climate Change, and the text of the talks etc. is now available on the the Transition Southampton website here.


October 2009 - worldwide

24 October 2009 was an international climate day of action, with over 5000 events in 180 countries organised by the 350.org campaign. Books of photos of the events were presented to the UN and are being presented to various world leaders in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. If you need inspiration and to feel that you are part of a worldwide wave of concern about climate change, take a look at the 350.org website.


September 2009 - Edinburgh: Holyrood 350 campaign in Scotland

Brian Davey presented 'Cap and Share' as part of the Holyrood 350 event at the Scottish parliament, attended by a dozen MSP's including one of the Ministers. The Holyrood 350 group was seeking the implementation of a 4-point policy framework that can work with the grain of community action.

Other speakers were Tim Helweg-Larsen from the Public Interest Research Centre in Machynlleth, Wales; Duncan McLaren, of Friends of the Earth Scotland; Shaun Chamberlin, author of Transition Timeline; and several speakers relating success stories of community action in Scotland, from community-owned renewables and living within limits on the Isle of Eigg, local food initiatives and the Fife Diet, Transition Town initiatives and a range of inner-city relocalisation initiatives.

A full account of the day is here. For more, see the Holyrood 350 website.


July 2009 - London: SDC showcases Cap & Share

The Sustainable Development Commission showcased Cap & Share as one of its 19 'Breakthrough Ideas for the 21st Century' at an event in London on 1 July 2009. Nick Bardsley, Milena Büchs, Brian Davey and David Thorpe attended for Cap & Share, addressing the conference and manning a display stand, which included to opportunity to explain C&S to HRH the Prince of Wales.

The SDC report Breakthroughs for the 21st Century is available to download from the Useful Stuff section of this website.

SDC report


July 2009, USA - Scientific American calls for Cap & Dividend

An editorial in the July 2009 edition of Scientific American strongly endorses the Cap & Dividend approach for the USA. See the Scientific American website for more details.


April 2009, USA - Cap & Dividend Bill introduced in Congress

Cap & Dividend is gaining support in the USA. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, a high-ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced a Cap and Dividend Act in the US House of Representatives in April 2009. This is now going through congressional committees. See the Cap & Dividend website for more details.


February 2009, UK - SDC shortlists C&S as 'breakthrough' idea

The UK's Sustainable Development Commission is running a competition on policy ideas that would help put us on a less catastrophic path. Cap and Share is one of those shortlisted, in the Climate Change and Energy section. The SDC's website is here.


December 2008, Poland - Climate talks blog

Brian Davey and several other members of Feasta attended the Climate talks in Poznan, Poland during early December 2008.


November 2008, USA - Bill McKibben of the 350 campaign calls for Cap & Share approach

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and a founder of the 350 campaign, writing in an article for the Environmental site e360 run by Yale University, calls on President-elect Obama to bring in Cap & Share. Obama has already endorsed a general approach akin to Cap & Dividend / Cap & Share.


October 2008, USA - Washington Post calls for Cap & Return

In an editorial article on 19 October 2008, the Washington Post called for 'Cap & Return' ('Cap & Return' is the same as Cap & Dividend, essentially the same as Cap & Share).


September 2008, Ireland - An Taisce endorses C&S

An Taisce is the Irish equivalent of the National Trust. At a meeting in Cork on 13 September 2008, its governing body endorsed proposals “to promote Cap & Share as a way to help Ireland reach its carbon emission targets that currently seem impossible but are vital if we are to keep climate change to manageable levels”.

The following report is from the Irish Environment Network website.

"At a meeting in Cork on Saturday 13th September, An Taisce’s governing body endorsed proposals to promote ‘Cap and Share’ as a way to help Ireland reach its carbon emission targets that currently seem impossible but are vital if we are to keep climate change to manageable levels.

"The National Council, representing local associations and members, heard an outline of the measures originally proposed by Feasta that, if adopted, would see the government set a cap on the total amount of emission-producing-fuel allowed in Ireland - a cap that will be reduced by 3% each year until we meet the 20% cut agreed by Europe. Each year the rights to this reducing amount of fuel would be auctioned. This will inevitably lead to the cost of fuel rising as the various fuel importers would have to buy certificates to cover the emissions from the fuels they sell but, unlike a carbon tax, the income raised from the auction of these certificates is shared equally and directly to all adults, helping them to meet the rising prices for petrol and heating oil. The proposal would be cost neutral to the average consumer.

"The meeting was told that the prospect of a carbon tax or any other system such as Cap and Share that increases the price of fuel will worry both individuals and industry but there are the penalties to be paid for not staying within our emission limits. Cap and Share guarantees that we will meet our international obligations, whereas tax based proposals leave this to chance. Cap and share also gives a financial return to those individuals that cut their carbon usage. 270 million euros have already been put aside to offset Ireland’s potential failure to meet its targets but Cap and Share can bring that money back into the economy, for example to insulate the homes of those in receipt of the fuel allowance. This could be worth more than a 5% pay increase.

"Charles Stanley Smith, Chairman of An Taisce said "The Cap and Share system seeks to share the pain of increasing energy costs fairly and leave individuals with choices on how to adapt to the inevitable new circumstances. If we, as individuals, limit our use of energy, as many people on low incomes already do, we will have something to spare for other things. The wealthier will also have to make choices, if they use more than their share they will be penalised and will have to pay more for their extravagances. As we know, from successfully reducing the chemicals which once threatened the ozone layer, the only realistic way to tackle pollution is a limit that caps how much is permitted."

"Following the debate An Taisce passed a motion to 'endorse Cap and Share as part of a programme to limit carbon emissions in line with EU-wide agreements'

"The An Taisce vote was part of ongoing work by the Irish Environment Network of 27 environmental NGO’s to secure consensus on the Cap and Share proposal. The idea has already been considered in reports from British consultancies commissioned by Comhar, Ireland’s Sustainable Development Commission. These reports (by AEA Energy and Environment and Cambridge Econometrics) rate Cap and Share ahead of a carbon tax in terms of effectiveness, public involvement, popular acceptability and protecting the poor. (Cap and Share does not preclude the earlier introduction of carbon tax). The system is currently being considered by the UK Department for Environment."


September 2008, South Africa - Report on C&S for SA published

A recent report has looked at the effects that Cap & Share would have in South Africa if introduced as part of a world climate treaty. It was commissioned by Feasta from Jeremy Wakeford, who was an economics lecturer at the University of Cape Town until earlier this year and is now Research Director for both the South African New Economics (SANE) Network and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil South Africa.
You can download the final version of the report here.


August 2008, Ireland - CE report on C&S published

A 37 page report commissioned by Comhar, the Irish sustainable development council, from Cambridge Econometrics, a British consultancy, on the economic impacts of using C&S to control Ireland's greenhouse emissions not covered by the EU ETS. It can be downloaded from here.


July 2008, UK - PCT / C&S debate in Nottingham

Laurence Matthews from C&S UK debated C&S and TEQs with David Fleming of the Lean Economy Connection. David Fleming is the originator of TEQs. You can hear an audio file of the debate and see the accompanying Powerpoint slides here.


June 2008 - C&S at the International Climate Forum in London

Cap & Share was represented at the ICF in London when Laurence Matthews from C&S UK shared a platform with Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute, inventor and promoter of “Contraction & Convergence”. C&S can work with C&C.


May 2008, Ireland - Feasta document published

The 32 page A4 book “Cap and Share – A fair way to cut greenhouse emissions” explains how C&S could be used to halt climate change at a global level. It stresses the urgency of getting a C&S system into use not just from the climate perspective but also as a way of preventing high energy prices causing widespread hunger and distress and collapsing the global economy. You can download the book from here.


May 2008, Ireland - AEA report on C&S published

A 106 page report commissioned by Comhar, the Irish sustainable development council, from AEA Energy and Environment, a British consultancy, on the advantages and disadvantages of using C&S at a national level. It is very positive about using C&S to control Ireland's greenhouse emissions not covered by the EU ETS showing that it and Peter Barnes' Cap and Dividend are both superior to a carbon tax and to the various forms of personal carbon allowances such as David Fleming's TEQs. It can be downloaded from here.


Will Howard

Will Howard was an active campaigner for Cap & Share who died from cancer in 2008. For two years he co-ordinated the Cap & Share campaign in the UK, including running the website.

Will had boundless energy and in 2007, despite his illness, he cycled to Brussels on an electric bicycle to present work on Cap & Share to the European Commission.

Will Howard pic

Feasta has established a series of Will Howard Memorial Lectures, the first of which was held in Dublin on 18 April, 2008 on the topic of "Climate Change: First, the bad news, then the good". The speakers were David Wasdell and Peter Read.

There follows an obituary from The Guardian, an obituary from the Feasta website, and a tribute by Brian Davey.


An obituary from The Guardian

Thursday May 29 2008, by Andy Haines

Will Howard

The campaigner Will Howard, who has died of prostate cancer aged 56, played an influential role in lobbying for effective policies to address two key challenges confronting humankind - nuclear weapons and climate change.

Born in Cambridge, he dropped out of school at 16 but went on to Newcastle University, where he took both a BSc and a PhD in soil science. In the early 1980s, he became the national fundraising strategy coordinator for CND, and in September 1984 played a leading role in founding the Nuclear Freeze initiative in the UK, which advocated a halt to the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons around the world.

Largely as a result of Will's powers of persuasion, the proposal in 1985 attracted support from a wide range of prominent individuals, including George Harrison, Lenny Henry, Germaine Greer, Denis Healey and David Steel. An opinion poll in 1986 suggested there was more than 70% public support for the proposition. Nuclear Freeze subsequently transformed itself into Saferworld, an independent non-governmental organisation that works to prevent armed violence and create safer communities.

Will then spent 10 years running an IT and new media business on the Gower peninsula, but four years ago he was diagnosed with advanced prostatic cancer and told he had only months to live. Galvanised into another period of intense activity, he helped to found and coordinate the Cap and Share initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also developed practical tools such as the carbon gym, a calculator to encourage people to reduce personal carbon dioxide emissions.

Last year, although seriously ill, he completed a 500-mile journey from Wales to Brussels on a prototype electric folding bicycle to lobby the EU for Cap and Share. During the journey, he sustained a fractured knuckle when he was pushed off the road by a truck in Slough, but after a night in hospital, he determined to press on.

Will was supported by his wife Lyn, whom he met through the Nuclear Freeze initiative, and his sons Sam and Doug. He lived simply, according to his principles, and touched the lives of many with his courage, vision and pragmatism.


An obituary from the Feasta website:

Will Howard (1951-2008)

Will was born in Cambridge on 14th December 1951. His father, Dr Harold Howard, was Deputy Director at the Plant Breeding Institute there, and bred potatoes to be resilient to various insects. The story goes that he was working on two varieties of potatoes and came home and asked his family for names. The first part of the name for each potato had to be "Maris" because that was the name of the road the Institute was on. Will said, "Why don't you call one 'Piper', the Scots would like that". The name had to go through the Scottish board first, and they did like it and the name stuck. The potato of course was Maris Piper. The other potato was Maris Peer. Maris Piper is probably one of the most widely used potatoes we have now.

Will was a very keen bird watcher who, disillusioned with school and family life, would forge letters from his parents to claim sickness, go off bird watching and then shin up drainpipes to get back into the family home. His lifelong friend Rob Jarman remembers them sleeping everywhere, from barns to bus shelters on their adventures to bird watch. These two and two others then took an old Dormobile van out to places you would have a job to travel through easily now, including Iran, Afghanistan, Punjab Pass, and so much more. He would send news of his travels home to his old grandmother, who tracked his progress on a map. His last letter was sent back to Will as she had died.

He became involved with Friends of the Earth after becoming angry at picking up dead birds covered in oil off a Cornish beach after the Torrey Canyon disaster in 1967.

While working on a pig farm at the age of 23 he wondered what on earth he was doing with his life, and sat three A levels in six months using the local library to study. He passed them and went to Newcastle upon Tyne University to study soil science. There he got his BSc and PhD in peat soils. Much later, this led to his becoming very interested in biochar and he wished he had continued in soil science so he could have furthered the biochar route now. "But that was Will all over. He wanted to do everything" his wife, Lyn says.

At university he became very involved in student politics. He became a card-carrying Communist, much to his father's annoyance, and read many books, including Marx and Gramsci.

But campaigning was always the area he felt most at home in and was best at. Whilst still at university he would work at CND in London at the weekends, sleeping on the floor over night, then travelling back to Newcastle for lectures. So, on leaving university, he went to work for CND full-time. He became its chief fundraiser at the height of the Cold War. He organised rallies such as that on 11 October 1981 when 2 million people marched through London, but the media did not report what was going on to the extent they did later for the Iraq march.

CND decided not to campaign for a freeze policy that would call on both superpowers to stop producing any more nuclear weapons as a first step to disarmament by just three votes. Unable to cope with the CND unilateral policy any longer he was head hunted to be the National Co-ordinator of a new campaign called FREEZE based in Bristol. Will always worked extremely hard at whatever campaign he was involved with, and threw himself into FREEZE with the same vigour as he had for CND.

There he met his wife Lyn, whom he spent the next 24 years with until his death. They had two sons - Sam now 18 and Doug 16. She came to work for FREEZE and brought her experience of administration and secretarial work to help them. FREEZE had cross-party support - from four political parties in those days. It had some 200 eminent patrons supporting it. An American campaign which preceded it had more support than the civil rights movement.

In 1989, Will left to run his own company on the Gower, South Wales, intended to generate enough money to become a publishing house for campaigning ideas. This proved to be very hard, but Will succeeded and opened a self-built studio with 16 full time staff and a turnover of a million a year, doing various printing and media contracts. Ahead of the game as always, he tried to sell people the internet and the idea of having a web site long before it all took off.

He worked tirelessly on an eco-village project in Shropshire that never came to be as the project was in the wrong hands. He was very involved with Fair Trade in Machynlleth, which achieved its Fair Trade Valley status in 2004. He worked on projects for Centre for Alternative Technology including a carbon calculator with a lot of fun called The Carbon Gym, putting it all together in five weeks. He also worked for the University of Wales on the Visual Culture of Wales project, involving a pictorial history of Wales.

Very interested in psychology, he worked with Lyn on many ideas and texts. These were being edited for publication at his time of death.

He was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in June 2004. This could have been picked up 10 years before if only the NHS had had early screening. He was very brave and refused to despair. On coming out of the Feasta meeting in Machynlleth in September 2006 he was convinced that Cap and Share was the only way to go to combat climate change. He worked on it tirelessly to the end of his life. Also very interested in carbon capturing and biochar, he felt the two needed to be undertaken and so proposed the Climate Threads idea under which various ideas would come together to combat climate change.

Lyn Howard writes: "Everyone who met him, whether for a day, or for decades, all kept coming up with the same analysis of him. He was so enthusiastic, inspirational, encouraging, good natured, and loved this life. All he ever wanted to do was to do some good before he went, when ever that was. Those that loved him feel that huge hole left that was Will, that driving engine full of hope, political knowledge and diplomacy. I wanted to save him. This memorial lecture in his name is doing just that."


A tribute by Brian Davey:

Will had his own way of learning that he had a terminal illness - he wasn't going to give up. He was going to fight it. He was going to live as long as he could because he had campaigning to do. He continued fighting his illness so that he could keep campaigning right to the last. The last time I spoke to him he told me that the chemotherapy had not gone well - and then he asked me in a weak voice whether there were any urgent decisions to be made in our Cap and Share work.

Most of us involved in the Cap and Share and climate work in the UK and Ireland only knew Will for a short time. It was far too short. He came to a meeting that we organised in Machynlleth and heard about Cap and Share. It seemed obvious to him and he decided to devote the rest of his life working for it. I knew Will had prostate cancer but then so did my father and he lived many years with it. What I learned later was that Will's cancer was more serious than that - it had spread. That did not deter him because he had campaigning skills that stemmed from his days in the movement for nuclear disarmament and he was going to use them. He flung himself into organising.

Then the blow hit him - Cap and Share seemed obvious but even some of the circle associated with Feasta had alternative approaches. What was more the climate policy agenda was a crowded field - there were lots of ideas jostling for attention and Cap and Share was one more idea among many. It was an idea that was coming late to this field and Cap and Share could barely get a hearing. This was a set back. But Will was a fighter - the challenge was bigger than he thought but he flung himself at it nevertheless. He was working on that problem till right to the end - his Climate Threads approach is a way of packaging Cap and Share with a set of other policies and responses at the cutting edge of thinking about climate responses.

Having a terminal illness is worse for your family he said to us. As far as he was concerned he was still alive and so the way to live was to get on with life as and when he could. He got on a small electric bike and rode to Brussels from Wales, narrowly missing some of the wettest weather ever in this country to go to a conference on emissions trading. It was a media stunt but the media weren't interested - he reflected to me that he ought perhaps to have played the fact that he was dying to them rather more. Once again he just kept on going - demonstrating the saying that "you can't keep a good man down".

It was at this point that I started to work with him more closely. We would spend time on Skype having talks about what needed to be done. He was encouraged, like we all have been, by the developments in Ireland where, with the Green Party in government, Cap and Share is being considered seriously as a policy option. Using the increased credibility that this would give to Cap and Share was a major part of our discussions.

Will lived long enough to see us start to make headway - he secured the UK Cap and Share campaign funding and we met in Bristol to establish a Cap and Share campaigning organisation. He met again at Schumacher College and shortly afterwards he set up meetings in London, at Portcullis House, to try to get the Cap and Share idea deeper into the political process. I was with him at that time. He had just come from an appointment with his oncologist and the message was not good. He had been feeling better but the clinicial message was that the cancer was resurgent. Rather than letting it get him down he was immediately back into lobbying.

This was another battle for Will. The chemotherapy would be awful but afterwards there was the hope that he would bounce back and could keep on campaigning.

Will knew how serious things are for life on the planet. He drew David Wasdell and the latest climate science into our discussions - about how amplifying feedbacks in the climate system are being triggered that could bring about the sixth major extinction event. About how we only have a perilously narrow window of opportunity to do something about this. At each stage, as things kept looking worse for him, at each set back as it became clearer that the challenges were greater than he had realised, he just kept at it.

It is our job now to do the same so that his work will not be in vain.