EASTBOURNE-BORN young environmentalist and artist James Owen Thomas has been chosen by the British public as One Step Greener Ambassador for COP26

James Owen Thomas has been selected from hundreds of entries from across the UK to become one of 26 One Step Greener Ambassadors, whose stories will be showcased at this year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

One Step Greener is part of the UK Government’s Together for Our Planet campaign, which aims to raise awareness of COP26 and climate issues. One Step Greener Ambassadors will inspire the public to take actions that have a positive impact on our environment.

A student, passionate artist and committed environmentalist, James is also one of The Tree Council’s Young Tree Champion Ambassadors and has inspired thousands of Young Tree Champions in schools across the UK through his incredible artwork made using recycled materials. The Tree Council nominated James as a One Step Greener Ambassador in recognition of the amazing impact he is having through his work.

From a young age, his interest in recycling, nature and the environment has helped to shape the person he is today. His art expresses his concern about the damaging environmental effects of single-use products. He prefers to use materials that most people would just throw away, looking at the colours and patterns of packaging, for example, and imagining how they can be reshaped into his artwork. James is an artist with a different vision and innovative way of working and his art has been exhibited across the North of England over the last five years, as well as further afield.

As part of his role with The Tree Council, James leads on engagement with Special Needs Schools for the organisation and as a One Step Greener Ambassador, James will be representing the autistic community. For James, his autism has given him a gift, a different way of thinking and creating his art. Aware of how much stress and anxiety people with autism face in their daily lives and the frustrations of sensory overload, James says that you have got to be strong to be different – and the way he keeps himself strong is through his collage art.

On being appointed a One Step Greener Ambassador, James said: “I’m so excited to hear the news that I have been selected as a One Step Greener Ambassador. It’s great to know that the environmental art I enjoy creating is having such an impact. Although it is late in the day, we must all do more to rescue our planet before it is too late.”

Richard Pollard, The Tree Council’s National Schools Programme Manager, said: “We are so proud of James, who is one of our leading Ambassadors and now a COP26 One Step Greener Ambassador. James inspires thousands of Young Tree Champions to be a Force for Nature by using his mesmerising art to highlight the impact of single-use products on the environment, turning discarded wastepaper into beautiful mosaic-style collages that celebrate the wonder of trees and nature.”

James hopes that when people look at his art, they will understand the message that we can all connect to nature. For James, art isn’t what it’s made from, but what it has or can become – it is the vision that is important.