Billionaire and environmental activist Mervyn Thimphill has been appointed as the new chairman of the Friends of the Earth India (FOI) group, which is a member of the NGO’s national advisory board.
The new chairman will be appointed by the group’s president, Sangeeta Srivastava, in the first week of September.
Mr Thimfell, who was previously the chief executive officer of Kishore Mahbubani and the chief of the global advocacy group, Friends of Earth, has already pledged to give away all his wealth, in a move that could help fund environmental work.
“We have to make our country clean, and if we have to get it done, we are going to do it,” Mr Thimfing said.
“Mervyn is someone who is passionate about protecting our environment and wants to get things done,” said Mr Srivasavastava.
Friends of the Environment India is the largest grassroots NGO in the country.
Its focus is on promoting environmental awareness and the protection of biodiversity.
Friends has over 3,000 affiliates and has a membership of over 4 million people.
It is one of the few NGOs with an environmental mission and has been working for environmental protection for decades.
“Mervy is the first person who will take a bold and forward-looking stance on climate change,” Mr Sivaprasad said.
The organisation has been at the forefront of campaigns against coal mining and power stations in India and has worked to protect forests and water resources.
It has been lobbying governments to take action against coal-fired power stations, and has campaigned for India to ban the use of coal in power generation and transportation.
A recent poll of 600 Indians showed that more than 90 per cent of Indians supported action on climate, and a similar figure was recorded for the country’s pollution.
According to the World Bank, India’s carbon dioxide emissions are the highest among all the countries studied, and the country has been on the brink of breaching the target of reducing emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.
It also has the second highest number of deaths from air pollution in the world.