It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the multi-national environmental group Greenpeace. After gambling away millions in charitable donations and revelations that a top official flew into work everyday, the group’s credibility and image has taken a huge hit.
To make matters worse for the international green group, India is now putting controls on their funding and hampering their operations within the country after labelling them a “threat to national economic security.”
“They have become a corporate fundraising machine. Losing money on investment speculation is nothing new for organizations of their size,” Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Moore left the group in the late 1980s after deciding they became too radical.
“But it is their hypocrisy on policy that shows them to be unworthy,” Moore said. “They tell us rot ‘quit our addiction to oil’ and then attack a Russian oil platform with a diesel-powered ship. Now it is revealed their executive is commuting 600 kilometers by plane.”
“They have a whole fleet of ships, pretending the $32 million Rainbow Warrior III is powered by the wind when it has two large diesel engines for propulsion. I like to joke that when we first sailed against US hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska we did not have a nuclear weapon on board,” Moore added.
Millions down the drain on bad bets on plane rides
In the past couple weeks Greenpeace has seen at least two major scandals emanating from within the group. The first came when the group’s international office admitted a rogue trader lost $5.15 million dollars in charitable donations betting against the euro.
The group said the trader made a “terrible miscalculation” and bet away millions hoping the euro would continue to lose value. That didn’t happen, and it was Greenpeace that saw its own value decline.
“Greenpeace has been careful to cultivate an image as intrepid defenders of the environment,” editorializes Der Spiegel, a major German newspaper. “Calling themselves the rainbow warriors, activists hang from factory chimneys, throw themselves in front of whaling ships or risk jail time in Russia by calling attention to the plight of the Arctic.”
“Now, another activity has been added: playing the financial markets,” Der Spiegel adds. “For an organization almost entirely financed by donations, the revelation is a PR disaster, endangering from one day to the next the greatest asset Greenpeace possesses: its credibility.”
The Guardian, a left-wing newspaper, has been especially critical of Greenpeace’s lately. The paper even obtained internal documents detailing the disarray within Greenpeace International.
A November 2013 document obtained by the Guardian shows that Greenpeace’s executive team was for years fully aware of major problems within the group’s finance department.
“[The] international finance function at GPI [Greenpeace International] has faced internal team and management problems for several years and the situation did not improve during 2013 despite efforts and support,” says the Greenpeace document.
“This has resulted in errors and sub-standards in the quality of financial systems, information and support provided to the teams, units in GPI and NROs [national reporting offices], and have on occasions adversely affected relationship between GPI and NROs,” the document adds.
The Guardian reported that “the group’s public face and top campaigner, executive director Kumi Naidoo, admits that internal communications are a ‘huge problem’ and staff have ‘good reason’ to be upset at a range of problems.”
“[S]taff are concerned at being shifted from Amsterdam on Dutch wages to national offices on lower local wages, as part of a major restructuring effort to decentralise the group,” the paper added. “the group did not campaign to have one of its three ships, the Arctic Sunrise, released by Russia because the political circumstances would have made it a ‘wasted effort.’”
Soon after the massive financial loss was made public, reports came out detailing how Greenpeace’s international program director Pascal Husting was commuting 250 miles between Luxembourg and Amsterdam by plane about twice a month.
The UK Telegraph noted that Greenpeace actively campaigns against “the growth in aviation,” which the group says “is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change”.
“Each round-trip commute Mr Husting makes would generate 142kg of carbon dioxide emissions,” reports the Telegraph. “That implies that over the past two years his commuting may have been responsible for 7.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of consuming 17 barrels of oil.”
Hustig issued an apology, saying he would no longer takes flights shorter than 500 kilometers (what the group already requires of its employees) and video commute as much as he can.
“It’s never easy when the spotlight of public attention finds a gap between what a leader says and what they do,” Hustig said. “But it is important to listen to the voice of criticism, and do the right thing. I expect that of anyone Greenpeace targets, and that’s what I’ve decided to do here.”
Greenpeace USA declined to comment, saying that these were matters for Greenpeace International to address.
India: Greenpeace’s ‘Temple of Doom’
If Greenpeace International’s financial woes weren’t bad enough, Greenpeace India has become the target of India’s Intelligence Bureau and has recently found it harder to get funds for their environmental activism.
It all started with an Intelligence Bureau report that labelled Greenpeace India a “threat to national economic security.” The Indian government is now delaying foreign funding to Greenpeace and other environmental groups that campaign against fossil fuels, mining and other industrial and development activities in the country.
“A significant number of Indian NGOs–funded by some donors based in U.S., U.K., Germany, and Netherlands–have been found to…create an environment which lends itself to stalling developmental projects,” the Intelligence Bureau’s report said. “The (annual) negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3%,” it said without explaining how it came to that figure.
Greenpeace denied the allegation it was a threat to India’s economic security, saying the intelligence report was “designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”
But India, even under its new pro-green energy prime minister, Narendra Modi, are putting development before fighting global warming and worrying about the environmental issues Greenpeace frets over.
“Greenpeace are other green non-governmental organizations are facing an ethical and existential crisis as they have turned into enemies of the poor,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, told TheDCNF.
“Developing nations are beginning to realise that green NGOs are a threat to their economic development,” Peiser said. “Greenpeace in particular has been campaigning against cheap forms of energy in developing countries and is openly promoting the interests of the West’s green industrial lobby.”
“Green NGOs have morphed into an unethical and anti-development movement that is a clear and present threat to the poorest people around the world,” Peiser added.
Even India’s climate change minister Prakash Javadekar said raising the standard of living in the country should take precedence over global warming and environmental issues.
“Poverty eradication…must remain the central and overarching objective of the SDGs and the post-2015 development agenda,” Javadekar said. “While the social and environmental pillars tend to gain prominence, it is important to underscore that the economic pillar is the foundation of sustainable development and must be adequately addressed and elaborated.”
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