Art & Photography / AnOther Thing I Wanted to Tell You

Vivienne Westwood on Renewable Energy

Dame Vivienne Westwood tells us why she’s backing a renewable energy fund we can all get in on – and how it could help revolutionise our economic system in the process

Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood Photography by Andy Gotts MBE

“Since history began, wars have been fought for land and for the treasures – the raw materials – that are in the ground and on the ground. We have a system called the Capitalist system which extracts the treasure from the earth and exploits people to the point where people are getting poorer and poorer and the rich are getting fewer and fewer. It’s becoming evident to everybody that this system is inhuman.

Our whole economic system is one that’s designed to cause poverty and to destroy the earth. A green economy is an economy without war. Climate change is forcing us to seize an opportunity that will, in the end, result in a world that is better for human beings – and for human beings to be able to have a symbiotic relationship with the earth. We can all live together on this rich planet.

"Is there really still a climate change debate going on? That was so 2004, it’s time to get on with it and focus on implementing the solutions"

The challenge is to move as fast as possible to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. The future is now. Is there really still a climate change debate going on? That was so 2004, it’s time to get on with it and focus on implementing the solutions. There is no need for discussion anymore, renewables are the future, it’s inevitable. That’s why I’m backing Trillion Fund, a new green investment platform that provides an opportunity to do just that. We are trying to make it easy for anyone to help create the future they want to see in the world.

The other aspect of Trillion Fund that really interests me is that it is a way of escaping our financial trap. It’s open to small investors, and at this point in time we should feel very optimistic because, technically, we’re getting so good at harnessing renewable energy. It’s getting cheaper every day.

Thinking of the future, we need to stop a small group of people from monopolising the sun, the wind, the tides – and taking all that energy that should be free and making it expensive in some way or another. We really do have this opportunity now to make our planet a wonderful and livable paradise.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood is a British fashion designer and activist who, at 73, remains as influential and active as ever – both on the catwalk and on the picket line. She first gained notoriety in the early 1970s with her ever-changing London shop, which stocked bondage and fetish wear alongside her own sartorial creations. Working with then-lover, Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, Westwood was at the forefront of the punk and new romantic movements; the former instilling in her a life-long passion for activism and mischief. A seminal cover of Tatler, for instance, saw her posing as then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, while more recently she has supported causes ranging from the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament and Liberty to the Ethical Fashion Africa Programme and PETA. Beyond her signature brand, a range of diffusion labels and a worldwide empire of shops including her original premises at 430 King’s Road, she is actively involved in the fight against climate change through her Climate Revolution collections and website – and recently shaved her head to highlight the urgency of the situation.

Vivienne Westwood’s Trillion Fund will collaborate with Finding Infinity, founded by Ross Harding, on OFFtheGRID, a solar powered party in support of the "renewable energy revolution” on 4 September 2014. “When I met up with Julian Assange, he told me that the best way to create change in the world was to influence influencers," says Harding. "Who better to team up with than the legendary Dame Vivienne Westwood?"

Interview by Chris Hatherill

Chris Hatherill is a freelance writer covering the convergence of science, ecology and culture, and the founder of super/collider