“I’m not one of those who is just here to save the planet – I think the planet will save itself quite happily without us on it. I think we are here to save ourselves, really.”

Penny Kemp was a founder of the Green Left and a pioneer of ecosocialism. In 1979 Penny joined what was then the Ecology Party, a place where she was able to combine her belief in social, economic and ecological justice.

A longstanding Green Party Activist, Penny served as External Communications Co-ordinator in the National Executive and as Co-Chair of the Green Party Council in 1989 and various times through the 1990s and 2000s. Simply put by the Scottish Green Politician, Ross Greer MSP:

‘You can’t write the history of Green politics on these islands without mentioning Penny. Her friendship and support meant so much to me personally and I know there are hundreds of others who’ll feel the same.’

Amongst her numerous achievements, Penny’s symposium on the First Gulf War in 1991 to examine the environmental effects had significant impact. The event was attended by Abdullah Toucan, chief scientific advisor to King Hussein of Jordan (who had lost 37 per cent of their GDP due to the war), the Iraqi Ambassador in London and the Chair of Shell, as well as Paul Crutzen [of the Max-Planck-Institut] and Carl Sagan [the acclaimed cosmologist and author]. After which Penny wrote a new resolution for the UN on the environmental effects of the Gulf War which was taken up by Jordan, Sweden and Canada.

Penny Kemp, battled for the decentralist wing of the party back in the 1980s and 1990s, which was high grade but essential factional work, publishing the Green Manifesto with Derek Wall, as well as managing the party press work and contributing to Caroline Lucas’s various election victories.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, Pavilion pays tribute:

“Penny was a pioneer of the Green movement, a tireless champion for nature and the climate, and one of the first to recognise how social justice and environmental justice are inextricably linked. She was a formidable and tenacious campaigner, with boundless energy and a knack for charming even her strongest political opponents. She was an inspiration to me, and to so many others, a person of boundless kindness and generosity as well as a wicked sense of humour and fun.

The loss to both her very many friends and to the wider Green movement is immense, and she will be hugely missed”.

David Tredinnick, Member of Parliament, (Bosworth Constituency 1987 to 2019):

“Penny was a passionate and committed campaigner for green issues over very many years. As a Member of Parliament, ( Bosworth Constituency 1987 to 2019), I saw at first hand, as one of her guest speakers and over several years, in the Green Futures section at the Glastonbury Festival, her year-on-year work bringing like-minded spirits together in support of all matters Green. It is perhaps appropriate that she passed away towards the end of the G7 conference with its intensified focus on climate change and specifically new measures on burning coal to tackle climate change. Penny will be much missed”

Jenny, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb:

“I first met Penny when I joined the Green Party (GP) in 1988, I was very shy of her. She was so prominent, so focussed, so able, so knowledgeable, that she was fearsome. She was a crucial central part of the Green movement and later I was lucky enough to know her as a friend. She was admired and valued in the GP for her grasp of the wider political world and her media savvy. The GP and the wider movement will miss her.”

Penny believed that social justice must remain a central part of Green Party policy; a just and equal society will also be happier and healthier one, as she eloquently put it:

“I’m not one of those who is just here to save the planet – I think the planet will save itself quite happily without us on it. I think we are here to save ourselves, really.”

Penny was a wonderful friend and colleague to so many, and will be hugely missed by the whole green movement, for and with whom she did so much.