About the book


Of all the books I’ve written since 1984, this one has been the hardest. Confronting today’s Climate Emergency is personally very painful – simply because we’ve left everything so late.

You can’t just stay hopeful if the science tells us it’s already too late to stop runaway climate change – but happily, that’s not the case. Solutions abound on every front, and a new generation of climate activists (in the School Strikes movement and Extinction Rebellion) has transformed today’s climate politics.

But it won’t stay ‘not too late’ much longer’. Which is what makes this the decisive decade, and what makes 2021, as we rebuild our shattered economies after the coronavirus crisis, the decisive year.

Of all the books I’ve written since 1984, this one has been the hardest. Confronting today’s Climate Emergency is personally very painful – simply because we’ve left everything so late.

You can’t just stay hopeful if the science tells us it’s already too late to stop runaway climate change – but happily, that’s not the case. Solutions abound on every front, and a new generation of climate activists (in the School Strikes movement and Extinction Rebellion) has transformed today’s climate politics.

But it won’t stay ‘not too late’ much longer’. Which is what makes this the decisive decade, and what makes 2021, as we rebuild our shattered economies after the coronavirus crisis, the decisive year.

Launch event, 24th June 2020


Endorsements


"…Hope in Hell is a powerful call to arms from one of Britain’s most eloquent and trusted campaigners."

– Caroline Lucas, MP

"In Hope in Hell, Jonathon Porritt yet again manages to offer up much needed insight and wisdom across a broad sweep of issues, and knit them together into a coherent narrative about where we are now and, most importantly, what has to happen next.

He locates what’s happening today on the historical arc of the environmental and social justice movements. The reader is left in no doubt that – no matter how desperate things may feel at times – there is still hope in hell. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of the world, and determined not to give up on fighting for people and the planet."

– Craig Bennett

"This excellent book does not shy away from the terrifying facts of what is happening to our planet. Porritt lays them out calmly and precisely. Yet he also has hope - hope that the COVID pandemic has helped to kindle. Hope in Hell provides a blueprint of how we can rapidly decrease emissions, lessen inequalities and capitalise on this unique moment for change, ensuring a better world for all. Essential reading."

– Rosie Boycott

"'Hope in Hell' provides a brilliant analysis of humanity’s impact on the Earth. Jonathon Porritt still allows us a little hope, but absolutely no excuses for further delay, urging radical political action. Don’t read this unless you are prepared to strive for the rest of your days in service of future generations; you will be emotionally enlisted, and unable to claim ignorance in your defence."

– Helen Browning

"Jonathon Porritt is remorseless in seeking out the best science about the state of our world, powerfully demonstrating the inextricable links between today’s Climate Emergency and biodiversity. But science alone is not enough. To protect nature we must love nature, and we all must find our own way of addressing these crises without further delay. Hope for a better world has to be earned and truth, actions and solutions learned. In this important book your education begins."

– Gordon Buchanan

"Failure to keep the climate safe will destroy democracy – this is the central argument of Jonathon Porritt’s Hope in Hell, a timely reminder that it is the politicians who make the economic and technology choices which determine our future, but the people who choose the politicians."

– Tom Burke

"Jonathon Porritt’s bracing new book dares us to look unflinchingly at the climate crisis and to ask if and where there may be sources of hope. He finds some in technological solutions - from new sources of energy to new sources of protein - for which the economics are rapidly changing. But he finds even more in the notion of hope as an active, rather than a passive, state. He urges us not to let fatalism win out, but to face the future and take it on. A call to action - with eyes wide open."

– Helen Clarkson

"There’s still time, and we undoubtedly have the means, to solve our planetary emergency – that’s the principal message of Hope in Hell. If we step up, as Greta Thunberg and other inspirational agents of change are now doing, the apparently impossible becomes not only possible, but unstoppable."

– John Elkington

"Yet another brilliant book from Jonathon Porritt. An eloquent, thoughtful, and compelling affirmation that we can address the climate crisis if we set our minds to it."

– Christiana Figueres

"We have a decade in which to bring about a social, cultural, economic and political transition that is without historical precedent. If we're successful, it will have been a thrilling time, rich in imagination, connection, optimism and action. Jonathon Porritt's brilliant Hope in Hell sets out how it could be, what we need to achieve, and what it would feel to live through such a time. Read it, roll up your sleeves, and let's rewrite history."

– Rob Hopkins

"An extraordinary book: in part, a go-to account of the fatal environmental menace to our planet, and in part a personal biography, including Porritt’s renewed belief that it will take mass civil disobedience to shift our politicians. There is only a decade left to act. Compulsory and compelling reading."

– Will Hutton

"Jonathon Porritt's latest book is engaging, insightful and shot through with an enduring and passionate commitment to addressing the Climate Emergency. Hope in Hell is a defiant riposte to denialism, incrementalism and government intransigence. We know the science. We have the solutions. It is time to deliver them. If that doesn’t happen, then we must take to the streets. Civil disobedience is the right of the dispossessed, insists Porritt, in this provocative and timely essay. And the best hope for our children’s future."

– Tim Jackson

"I put off writing my own book to dive into this one. When I came up for breath, I felt I was no longer swimming against the tide. For 40 years, Jonathon Porritt has warned us about the future. That future has now come, and the next decade will be decisive. He's more than a futurologist: he's a positive and proven prophet."

– James Jones

"Jonathon Porritt draws on five decades of experience to present this vital book, one that will change how you think about climate change and transform what you will want to do about it - hopefully, just in time to save our collective future."

– Tony Juniper

"Jonathon Porritt convincingly, and accurately, demonstrates the urgent need for speed in tackling the climate, biodiversity and other environmental emergencies at the start of the crucial decade for the future of the planet. Governments must take his message on board and act on it, if the covid-19 disaster is not to be just a mild foretaste of the crises to come."

– Geoffrey Lean

"Between those who continue to play down today’s climate crisis, and those who come to the conclusion that it’s already too late to prevent a full-on climate apocalypse, there’s a critically important sweet spot: it’s not too late, the solutions are all there to be rolled out at scale, right now (including massive investment in renewables), but it’s all about the politics. Jonathon Porritt’s inspiring new book couldn’t be more timely – he tells it as it is, pulls no punches, and calls us all into action before it’s too late."

– Jeremy Leggett

"Brave and unflinching in setting out the reality of the hell towards which we’re headed, but even more urgent, passionate and compelling about the grounds for hope if we change course fast enough, Hope in Hell is a powerful call to arms from one of Britain’s most eloquent and trusted campaigners."

– Caroline Lucas, MP

"We teeter, like the coach at the end of The Italian Job, on the brink of irreversible disaster. Pulling back from that peril may be seen as impossible, but Jonathon Porritt’s ‘Hope in Hell’ shows us how it can be done. It’s so full of wisdom, clarity and inspiration that it should be compulsory reading for every world leader; and, more importantly perhaps, for every young person looking for real hope in today’s encircling gloom."

– Joanna Lumley

"Extraordinarily powerful, deeply troubling, scathing but ultimately purposeful and hopeful. This book is a clarion call to action, and action now. After reading this, we know for sure that nothing, not even a pandemic, must divert us from the most serious problem facing every living creature on the planet. In plain language, Jonathon Porritt is spelling it out. This is our last chance. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Then act."

– Michael Morpurgo

"Building on today's climate science, Hope in Hell eloquently demonstrates that we can still create a more equitable and sustainable world - providing we individually and collectively act in accordance with that science. It is indeed in our hands. My vote is for Hope, and Jonathon Porritt's new book gives some great suggestions as to how to make that our reality."

– Paul Polman

"Not for the first time, Jonathon Porritt has put his finger on the pulse - not the flickering pulse of a Covid-19 patient, but the racing pulse of the whole of humanity in extreme danger as a consequence of the existential threat of climate change. And he's absolutely right: the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a realisation that the social and economic priorities of the past cannot be those of the future."

– David Puttnam

"Despite daunting obstacles, and a rapidly shrinking window of opportunity, Jonathon Porritt argues that the balance of factors at play can still lead to a positive outcome as we grapple to find our balance within the natural world. Will we make it? Not without confronting the status quo and the elites that defend it, with civil disobedience and the solidarity of the engaged young and old offered as crucial ingredients. The decade of the 2020s will be decisive, and Hope in Hell offers a blueprint for determining which fork in the road we will take."

– Chris Rapley

"This book offers real hope as to how we might re-set our economies, post the coronavirus crisis. But that hope has to be earned; as Porritt puts it: 'There is no hope whatsoever in another ten years of incremental change.' Radical transformation is needed, including mass civil disobedience - this really is the last chance saloon for avoiding climate-driven societal collapse. When Jonathon Porritt says this, the world has to listen."

– Rupert Read

"Jonathon Porritt proclaims with passionate intensity - but with well-documented arguments too - that our climate and environment are under threat. Urgent action is needed if we aren't to leave a devastated world for future generations. His clear and well-judged assessment deserves special attention from politicians and public alike. This is a compelling book, that should make campaigners of us all."

– Sir Martin Rees

"Jonathon Porritt has produced a book which is a roadmap, a bible and a manual all in one - to fill the very heart of all those supporting progressive politics and today's Green New Deal. Our job has just begun, and in Hope in Hell, we've been given the best piece of ammunition to help us do our duty to the planet. It should be read aloud in every classroom, university and home in the land. Thank you, Jonathon."

– Gordon Roddick

"If you wonder how we got where we are, where we’re going, and what to do; if you wonder why your child is willing to be arrested; if you think there must still be a way to change and avoid extinction, then Hope in Hell is the book for you. The text is like the Mississippi river, deep, wide, full of life and fast moving, a terrific read, pulling you towards the delta and gulf we approach: The great awakening, the tipping point, where the ecological disasters are so great that humanity is finally convinced to act. I would rarely say this, but I think you need this book. It is going to help you. It is a vital narrative. An essential resource if you have any hope for the unknown future of yourself, your children and all life on this planet."

– Mark Rylance

"This extraordinary and riveting book has the quality and urgency of the very best War and Foreign correspondents, giving us a ring-side seat - with tomorrow in the balance. It will excite you, and allow you to believe that it is not too late, but that it requires all of us to rise from that ring-side seat and dare to get into the ring. Our future remains ours to make. I love this book, and I think you will too. Even if you don't, I promise you the time will have been really well spent!"

– Sir Tim Smit

"Hope in Hell will become an indispensable handbook in the pre-eminent planetary struggle of our times. It is truthful, trenchant and yet refreshingly hopeful."

– Sting

"Is there time? Just. Is there hope? Plenty. Hope in Hell is brave, urgent and wise - in fact, one of the most important books any of us may read."

– John Vidal

"Perhaps the greatest strength of this brilliantly vigorous book is its insistence on the interconnection of all the issues that matter most for our future. 'Climate justice' is bound up with all other sorts of justice – with all the challenges of racial, social and gendered inequality; with the fate of democracy itself; with the nature of human intelligence and compassion. Combining urgency and hopefulness with rare clarity, Jonathon Porritt reminds us that we have the information, and we have the technology: what we need is imagination and will, and the trust that allows us to take the brave collective steps that are needed now.

It’s a terrific book, and couldn’t be more timely – the post-COVID world will need just this kind of synoptic picture and I hope the book will be recognised as a major tract for the times."

– Rowan Williams

Endorsements from New Zealand and Australia

"Jonathon Porritt is absolutely on-point with Hope in Hell, unflinchingly articulating the science, marshalling solutions from around the world, and calling us all to account. Time is definitely running out! This is a delightful, fact-filled – and sometimes alarming – book to devour."

– Rachel Brown

"After a lifetime of sustainability leadership, across politics, NGOs and business, Porritt tests, almost to destruction, his hypothesis that there is still hope. He concludes that there is, but only through civil disobedience that forces political action. In a world of climate chaos that is almost too painful to acknowledge, where everything is getting far worse, far faster, Porritt rejects despair and chooses for himself a return to radical action, drawing inspiration from past social movements and hope from our young people."

– Barry Coates

“This is the first time that I've seen climate change explained in a way that brings both the science and the politics into the world of every single one of us. Porritt lays out a multi-dimensional story in a way that engages honestly and inspires realistically. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read. We all need to understand how we've ended up in this situation, and, most importantly, what it is that we can all do individually to change the course we are on before it's too late. It can be as simple as starting in your own backyard.”

– Livia Esterhazy

"After a career spent supporting and advising major institutions to take action to restore natural systems and heal our climate, Jonathon is moving into a new mode. He’s calling for informed and active disobedience.  We need governments, businesses, NGOs and media to act. Time is running out! This is a delightful, fact filled – and sometimes alarming – book to devour."

– Tim Flannery

"Porritt has achieved what I thought was impossible: written a book which tells the devastating truth of the civilisation-threatening climate reality we face, yet still leaving the reader 'improbably hopeful' and personally driven to action. It is uniquely suitable for both those with decades of knowledge on the topic, and for recent arrivals. You can use it to introduce newcomers to the issue, but also to challenge those who've spent their lives working in the area to think - and act - differently.

This is not just a book about 'fixing climate change', it's about fixing humanity.

If you want to understand the climate issue? Read this book. The future of the economy? Read this book. The future of conflict and democracy? Read this book. Why it’s not too late? Read this book. Be inspired to help save humanity? Read this book. Whatever else you do - read this book. Then get copies for everyone you know and have them read it too."

– Paul Gilding

"I'm so glad I read this book. It comes at just the right time. Jonathon Porritt has to work hard to extract hope from the increasingly scary science of climate change, but he succeeds. There is a way of avoiding those ominous tipping points. To find out what it is, pick up the book and strap yourself in for an emotional roller coaster."

– Clive Hamilton

"An icon of the climate movement gives us hope at a time when the world desperately needs it. Hope in Hell is a 'must read' for anybody who cares about our future, and who needs a motivation booster to get back up and keep fighting for it."

– Derek Handley

"Hope in Hell tells the truth about climate change that others have been reluctant to confront. With a brilliant distillation of the science, Porritt makes the case for authentic hope, emphasising the need for radical action, including civil disobedience, to give us a fighting chance of avoiding runaway climate change. This is essential reading for anyone wanting to be part of the solution to today’s Climate Emergency."

– Rebecca Mills

"Hope in Hell is Porritt's most uncompromising and urgent call to arms. Against today's drumbeat of despair, it guides us to the irrefutable conclusion that we now live in the last decade if we are to prevent runaway climate change. His empathy and admiration for young people drives much of the momentum of this remarkable book. This is emotionally-charged, uncomfortable truth-telling from a compassionate warrier, who knows we simply have no more time to waste."

– Sam Mostyn

"Jonathon traverses the evidence of our climate crisis, making it abundantly clear that we cannot successfully address climate change unless we protect democracy, challenge the myths of endless growth, empower women and deal with inequality. It is also a personal reflection on what it means to act in service to that which we love, forcing readers to genuinely confront their own emotional responses. This makes it a wholly necessary book, arriving in our midst at a critical moment."

– Abbie Reynolds

"A brave, eloquent book, and a clarion call to action. Based on a lifetime’s experience in fighting for the planet, Jonathon Porritt gives a stark, authoritative warning about climate change, and shows how to save the future for our children and grandchildren."

– Anne Salmond

"This will be one of the most important books you’ll ever read. Jonathon writes beautifully, with searing directness and honesty, and I can trust what he says. This is a rare combination of authority -  knowing the science and the politics – and emotional understanding; it’s human. He knows who the villains are, how many of us feel about them, and how to help us make a difference when facing a global hell. Yes, there is hope, even in Australia, and it’s real and bloody exciting."

– Robyn Williams