A British judge has ruled that deeply held environmental views are entitled to the same protection as religious convictions.

Until five years ago,  Tim Nicholson, a British quantity surveyor, "flew abroad on holiday and for work, drove fast cars and had no knowledge of or concern about carbon emissions". But after a trip to New Zealand, he decided that he could no longer  "continue to live in a way that would increase the already dangerous high levels of CO²" and took a job as head of sustainability for Grainger plc, a large property management company.

Mr Nicholson said that his environmental beliefs led to frequent clashes with other managers and that the firm’s chief executive, Rupert Dickinson, treated his views with contempt. For example, on a business trip to Ireland, Mr Dickinson realised that he had left his Blackberry in London and ordered one of his staff to fly to London to fetch it.

On the other hand, Mr Nicholson no longer travels by plane. He said that "I have eco-renovated my home, I try to buy local produce, I compost my food waste, I encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions and I fear very much for the future of the human race, given the failure to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale."

He claimed that his environmantal beliefs eventually led to his being laid off by the company.

In an appeals court, Justice Richard Burton ruled thah Mr Nicholson’s views on the environment were so deeply held that they were entitled to the same protection as religious convictions, and ruled that an employment tribunal should hear his claim that he was sacked because of his beliefs.

Legal experts say that the ruling could usher in future damages claims over the way firms handle environmental concerns but some argue that it opened doors for an even wider category of deeply held beliefs, such as feminism or vegetarianism to be given the same status as religios convictions.

(Based on sources including The Guardian)