Born in North West London in 1931, Mayer Hillman is the third son of David Hillman, a portrait painter and stained glass artist, and Dr. Annie Hillman, a GP. In 1964, he married Heidi Krott with whom he has two sons, Josh (born 1968) and Saul (born 1970) and two granddaughters. He studied architecture at University College London, qualifying in 1954, and then stayed on to study town planning, qualifying in 1956. He was in private practice in Hampstead for 13 years.
Concern about oversight of the crucial links between transport, planning and environmental issues then led him to leave both his private practice and the practice of architecture. He completed his doctoral thesis on this subject in 1970 at the University of Edinburgh. That same year he joined the Policy Studies Institute (formerly PEP – Political and Economic Planning) and was head of its Environment and Quality of Life Research Programme until 1992. He is now is Senior Fellow Emeritus of the Institute. His studies have been concerned with transport, urban planning, energy conservation, health promotion, road safety and environment policies, and particularly the implications of climate change.
For 40 years, he has highlighted the imperative of incorporating environmental considerations into public policy. He first proposed personal carbon rationing in 1990, citing it as the only realistic way by which the world’s population could prevent catastrophic climate change. He has written over 50 books on the subjects of his research, including the Penguin book How We Can Save the Planet (with Tina Fawcett) in 2004 and The Suicidal Planet: Our Last Chance to Prevent Climate Catastrophe (with Tina Fawcett and Sudhir Rajan), published by St. Martins Press in 2007 in the US.
In 2001, on Mayer’s 70th birthday, the Policy Studies Institute presented him with a festschrift. This book, entitled Ahead of Time, contains a series of thought-provoking letters by 15 prominent UK thinkers, academics and innovators. They were written as "a celebration of Mayer's unique combination of qualities: great intellectual productivity and originality, tenacity in argument and in pursuing his chosen themes, and a willingness to speak truth to power". In 2000, Mayer Hillman received the Camden Citizen's Award.
Activities and memberships
Dr. Hillman was on part-time secondment to the Transport Research Laboratory (formerly TRRL) from 1973 to 1976 and was a visiting lecturer at the National Police College from 1974 to 1981. He was a member of the Independent Transport Commission, which published its report Changing Directions in 1974, and of the RTPI, ICE and RICS Working Group on Planning and the Future, which published a discussion paper in 1976. He has been a member of many advisory groups and working parties on various aspects of public policy, including those of the National Consumer Council, Friends of the Earth, Transport 2000 and Labour Party transport policy study groups under Tony Crosland, Albert Booth, Chris Smith and John Prescott. He is also on the editorial boards of several journals.
He has also given evidence to many House of Commons select committees including those inquiring into urban transport planning; the motor industry; energy conservation; preventive medicine; transport in London; road maintenance; road safety; bus subsidies; the Channel Tunnel link; primary health care; shopping centres; UK airport capacity; the safety of vulnerable road users; integrated transport policy; walking in towns and cities; environmental education; the future of railways; action on climate change; and energy efficiency.
- President, Lifestyle Movement (2006‑ )
- Member of the BMA Climate and Health Council (2006‑ )
- Member of the advisory group of the RSA CarbonLimited Project on personal carbon trading (2006‑)
- Member of the editorial board of Green Economics (2005‑ )
- Chair, Global Commons Trust (2004‑ )
- Technical adviser to the Road Danger Reduction Forum (2000‑ )
- Technical adviser to the Slower Speeds Initiative (1999‑ )
- Patron of RoadPeace (1997‑ )
- Member of the London Borough of Camden Cyclists, Pedestrians and Road Safety Liaison Group (1996‑ )
- Patron of SUSTRANS (1996‑)
- Chair of the Netherhall Neighbourhood Association in Hampstead, London (1987‑1999)
- Member of the editorial board of Town and Country Planning (1985‑ )