Tagged ‘Greenwash‘

The Inside Story Of How Greenpeace Built A Corporate Spanking Machine To Turn The Fortune 500 Into Climate Heroes

WKOG editor: In the article Corporate Social Responsibility As a Political Resource published February 22, 2010, author Michael Barker writes:

“In June 2003 Gretchen Crosby Sims completed a vitally important Ph.D. at Stanford University titled Rethinking the Political Power of American Business: The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility. Hardly counting herself as a political radical — Sims’s doctorate thesis was supervised by Morris Fiorina, who is presently a senior fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution — the findings of her unpublicized study provide a critical resource for progressive activists seeking to challenge the mythology of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the British non-profit organization Corporate Watch states, CSR “is not a step towards a more fundamental reform of the corporate structure but a distraction from it.” Indeed, Corporate Watch advise that: “Exposing and rejecting CSR is a step towards addressing corporate power….


As [Weinstein] demonstrated long ago, corporate elites adopted the principles of “cooperation and social responsibility” to sustain capitalism’s inequalities, not to remedy them. To campaign for Corporate Social Responsibility in this present day is akin to demanding the institutionalization of elite social engineering. Capitalist corporations will never be socially responsible, this fact is plain to see; thus the sooner progressive activists identify their enemy as capitalism, not corporate greed or a lack of good-will, then the sooner they will be able to create an equitable world whose political and economic system is premised on social responsibility, not to corporate elites, but instead to all people.” [Emphasis added]


Business Insider

July 4, 2014

by Mike Nudelman


“NGOs have become very businesslike,” says a sustainability officer for a major media company, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They’re thinking through the strategy and creating an integrated campaign just like a company would when marketing a product, going through the R&D phase, the development phase, production, and then the retail channels. It’s a corporate approach.”


“Indeed, the unlikely romance between Kimberly-Clark and Greenpeace seems to have deepened with time. “The relationship blossomed to the point where we began sharing our five-year plans with them,” Apte says. “We want to know in advance if there are any showstoppers in there from their perspective.”

One day in early March at about 1:00 p.m., a woman wearing conservative business attire and toting a wheeled bag strolled through the front entrance of Procter & Gamble’s 17-story headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. She told security she had an appointment, possibly with one of the businesses that rent space in the building, and was waved inside.

But she never arrived at the office. There was no appointment.

Instead, the woman made her way to an emergency exit door and pushed it open. Eight associates, all pulling bags of their own, swept in and disappeared into a crowd of arriving employees.

Though they too wore business suits and what looked like P&G employee badges, they didn’t work for the consumer-goods giant. They were from Greenpeace, and they’d come to save tigers.

Wordlessly, the nine activists made their way past the security desk and headed for two rendezvous points — one, in a 12th-floor office suite in the iconic building’s north tower, the second, in an office just opposite, in the east tower. There, the two groups jimmied open several windows, attached rappelling gear to the window-washing stanchions, and climbed out into the chilly air.

After a zip line was strung between the two towers and secured, the smallest member of the team, 20-year-old Denise Rodriguez, of Queens, New York, edged out onto the wire, shimmied to center point, then dangled there in the gentle breeze, 70 feet in the air. She was wearing a tiger costume.

Her colleagues unfurled a pair of 60-foot-tall banners on the front of each tower. The banners denounced Head & Shoulders, the antidandruff shampoo, for “putting tiger survival on the line” and “wip[ing] out dandruff & rainforests.”

A rented helicopter hovered overhead as a videographer and photographer captured the unfolding drama.

Arriving on the scene, Capt. Paul Broxterman of the Cincinnati police found the windows had been braced shut from the outside. He knocked on the glass and got one of the activists to call him on his cellphone.

“How long are you guys going to be out there?” he asked.

“We’ll be wrapping up shortly,” came the reply.




Greenpeace’s action at P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters in April.


The incursion, which left P&G’s vaunted corporate security force looking uncharacteristically flat-footed, was the latest foray in Greenpeace’s seven-year campaign against the use of improperly sourced palm oil. A highly saturated vegetable fat derived from the fruit, or sometimes the kernel, of the oil palm, it is, in and of itself, a relatively innocuous substance, a common ingredient in everything from laundry detergent and cosmetics to candy bars and ice cream. In recent years, demand has spiked because of its popularity as a replacement for hydrogenated oils and as a source of biodiesel fuel, which, paradoxically, is often promoted as an environmentally sound alternative to fossil fuels.

The problem — what elevated this viscous wonder elixir to the top of Greenpeace’s global agenda — is the aggressive manner in which the world’s biggest palm-oil producers, based in Indonesia, have gone about meeting demand: burning and clear-cutting the nation’s priceless tropical peat forests to the ground, then draining the underlying wetlands to make way for massive oil-palm plantations.

As Greenpeace’s banners made clear, that deforestation is destroying the habitat of the Sumatran tiger, of which there are said to be fewer than 400 left. Also threatened are orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and about 114 bird species.

But truth be told, the animals are really beside the point.

Greenpeace’s tigers are a kind of decoy, a sleek feline metaphor pressed into service on behalf of the broader existential threat that we all face because of the warming of the atmosphere.

It turns out that the results of Indonesian deforestation go far beyond decimating tiger habitats. The critical issue is not even the jungle itself exactly, but the swampy peatlands from which it rises — massive watery bogs up to 50 feet deep containing layer upon layer of fallen vegetal debris.

This peat acts as an immense living storage locker for carbon dioxide, and as the peatlands are drained, the plant matter decomposes, releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere at a truly frightening rate. By one estimate, the amount of carbon given off because of deforestation in Indonesia accounts for a whopping 4% of global carbon emissions — from just .1% of the earth’s land surface.

Of course that’s a lot of information to fit on one banner. The tiger is convenient shorthand.

“It’s easy to say, ‘If you’re destroying forests, you’re destroying tiger habitats,’” says Phil Radford, the outgoing executive director of Greenpeace USA (his replacement, Annie Leonard, was announced in April). “It’s harder to say, ‘Do you know that forests store carbon and if we save the peat bogs we will trap all this carbon and methane in the soil?’ We say both, but we start with the place that people are, the thing they care about the most first.”

Says his colleague Nicky Davies, the organization’s campaigns director: “We’re not going to win by telling people what they should care about. And winning is the objective.”

Greenpeace’s strategy, which it calls “market-based campaigning,” has proved devastatingly effective. It goes like this: Pick an area of concern. Identify on-the-ground producers whose actions are contributing to the problem. Follow the supply chain to a multinational corporation that peddles a widely known consumer product. Send an email or two, kindly pointing out the company’s “exposure” and suggesting an alternative. Ask again, firmly but pleasantly. Issue a sober, meticulously researched public report. If the desired response is not forthcoming. roll out a clear, multipronged media campaign, ideally starring a beloved animal species and featuring a hashtag. Climb a building or two.

What seems to happen, inevitably, is the multinational company, eager to remove the stigma from its signature brand, promises to ensure that its products are sustainable and begins cancelling contracts with any third-party suppliers who fail to guarantee compliance. In order to retain the multinational’s lucrative business, the largest suppliers fall into line. Before long, as the cascade effect grows, they begin eyeing their wayward rivals, companies that are still operating in flagrant violation of the new rules and undercutting them with other customers. Eventually, broad new industry protocols are adopted to level the playing field.

Rinse, repeat.

Sailing to Amchitka

They thought of themselves as Hobbits, embarking on a journey to Mordor. Or some did, anyway. The founders of Greenpeace didn’t agree on much. As cofounder Bob Hunter wrote, “We spent most of our time at each other’s throats, egos clashing.”

life on a greenpeace voyage al


Bob Hunter on the original Greenpeace voyage in 1971.



Emerging from the acid-laced Vancouver hippie scene, the cadre of activists who gave birth to the group were a loose confederacy of draft-dodgers, radicals, mind-expansion mystics, tree-huggers, former beatniks, and Quakers, in addition to a few Hobbit heads like Hunter.

In 1971, after reports surfaced of a planned underground nuclear test on the island of Amchitka, on the far western point of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, a dozen of them chartered a fishing boat, a halibut trawler called the Phyllis Cormack, temporarily rechristened it the Greenpeace, and set sail from Vancouver hell-bent on thwarting the U.S. military.

A few days after they left Victoria Harbor, cowboy icon John Wayne arrived in Vancouver on his private yacht, a retrofitted World War II minesweeper. The star was asked what he thought of the protesters.

“They’re a bunch of commies,” he said. “Canadians should mind their own business.”

A few days later, the group was turned back by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the nuclear test was carried out as planned. But the audacious voyage received worldwide media attention and ignited a firestorm of opposition, leading the U.S. government to abandon its plans for future tests on the island, which eventually became a bird sanctuary.

If the incident proved anything, it was the power of mythmaking and what we now call optics. (It’s worth noting that several Greenpeace founders were fans of media-theory rock star Marshall McLuhan.) The framing of the story — scruffy, daredevil ecowarriors risk their lives in a brave if hopeless stand against the most powerful military in the world — resonated deeply, and the David and Goliath dynamic became the cornerstone of Greenpeace’s identity. Nearly 45 years on, it still works.

In the years that followed, the group expanded its goals, taking on commercial whaling, the dumping of toxic and nuclear waste, seal hunting, arctic drilling, drift-net fishing, PVCs, GMOs, HFCs, and a number of other afflictions, all reasonable objectives, which in retrospect look like dress rehearsals for the big show: the increasingly urgent effort to slow the effects of climate change, a threat that was scarcely understood when the group first set off for western Alaska.

Greenpeace’s confrontational and swashbuckling approach has helped make it one the world’s most powerful environmental NGOs, with branches in 41 countries, 2.9 million donors and more than $350 million in annual contributions.

But increasingly, the organization has begun to temper its intensity with a cool-eyed and disciplined pragmatism, resulting in a string of extraordinary victories. On deforestation, a variety of companies, including big suppliers such as Asia Pulp & Paper and manufacturers like Kimberly-Clark, have been joined by Mattel, Nike, McDonald’s, Yum Brands, Unilever, Ferraro, Coca-Cola, Mondelez, and Nestlé in pledging to end the clear-cutting of precious rain forests. Tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Salesforce have promised to power their data centers with renewable energy, a pledge that led Duke Energy, the nation’s largest power utility and one of the most flagrant emitters of CO2, to begin providing clean energy to win their business. And grocers like Wal-Mart, Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s have begun selling sustainable seafood.



Footage of beloved animals provokes a response in a way that an abstraction like global warming rarely does.


Greenpeace’s achievements have not been accomplished without help. Many have been undertaken in partnership with other environmental NGOs, from the World Wildlife Fund to the Rainforest Alliance, which are also doing important work. And organizations like the Sierra Club and NRDC are doubling down on political activism on the global-warming front.

FLASHBACK | When Capitalism Goes Green



A former member of the Encyclopedie des Nuisances discusses the current reformist environmentalism of capitalism, the fashionable support for “curtailing economic growth”, and the growing role of the State and NGOs in enforcing a new framework for the continued survival of capitalist social relations, and concludes that “a libertarian society can only be created by way of a libertarian revolution”.

When Capitalism Goes Green – Miguel Amorós

Presentation delivered at La Mistelera (Dènia) and Casa els Flares (Alcoy) on December 28 and 29, 2007.

Ever since capitalism made its appearance on this planet it has done nothing but destroy the natural environment in order to forge its own environment where it has evolved and forced individuals to adapt to it. Science and technology acquired a decisive impulse and were fully developed thanks to the resistance offered to this adaptation, so that capitalism not only has been able to overcome all obstacles but these obstacles have been systematically transformed into opportunities for its own expansion. Growth, deeply ingrained in its nature, will not cease as long as exploitable humanity exists, and that is precisely the new challenge that capitalism is facing. As the productive system expands it becomes more and more destructive. The colonization by the commodity of land and life, of space and time, cannot be stopped without a questioning of its fundamental principles, nor can it continue without endangering the existence of the human species itself. As a result, the ecological crisis leads to the social crisis. Capitalism must continue to grow to prevent this from happening, but must do so without allowing the degradation that accompanies this growth from penetrating the consciousness of those affected by it. To accomplish this it must improvise economic, technological and political measures that simultaneously dissimulate its outrages and allow people to live with and make the best of them. Production and consumption, as the experts would say, face a “paradigm shift”. Consumption habits, along with business and political activity, must be carried out in a different way, not, obviously, to save nature, or even to preserve the species, but to save capitalism itself. This is why the politicians’ hearts have turned green. This is why capitalism is going environmental.

Honduras Will Host the 4th Palm Oil Conference (Celebrating the Murder of Peasants)

July 31, 2013

by Adrienne Pine

Shame—once again—on WWF for greenwashing the murderous palm oil industry. It is no wonder that DICTA waited until a week before the conference to announce it in the Honduran media. Click title for original article in La Tribuna – Adrienne Pine

( translation by Adrienne Pine)

The authorities of the Office of Agriculture and Livestock Science and Technology (DICTA) announced this Wednesday that Honduras will be the site of the 4th conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

The RSPO conference has previously been held in Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador and this year it will be in Honduras.

They indicated that the RSPO conference has previously been held in Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador and this year Honduras will host the fourth conference on Sustainable Palm Oil.

This event has the goal of providing information about the production of oil in a way that is responsible toward nature, the environment and society and it will take place from August 6th to 8th of this year in the convention center of the Club Hondureño Árabe, in San Pedro Sula, department of Cortés.

“25 x 25″ is a Big Fat Bio-Massacre

Vote Yes on Proposal 3!


For a list of the key groups behind this bill view the 25x25_organization_endorsements. Environmental groups, corporations and regional partners include those such as Environmental Defence Fund, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Monsanto, National Wildlife Federation, World Watch Institute and Chrysler.


November 4, 2012

By Jeff Gibbs

Open Mike

“Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger. It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands.”

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.


In Michigan right now ballot Proposal 3 known as “25 x 25″ would require our state to get 25% of its electricity from “renewable” sources by the year 2025. “25 x 25″ is being sold as all about solar panels and wind mills. It’s not. Far more than anyone suspects, it’s going to ramp up the dirtiest form of energy of all: biomass burning. Incinerating trees in the name of “green energy.” And it must be stopped if we care about climate change, clean air and thriving forests.

Yes that’s right, in the name of saving the planet and renewable energy we are about to make things worse. For those unfamiliar with biomass burning, it releases more carbon dioxide and more harmful particulates than even coal. Logging for biomass can drastically reduce biodiversity and set back a forest’s ability to sequester carbon dioxide for centuries. Most environmentalists oppose it. Or used to.

Michigan environmental groups promoting “25 x 25,” whose goals such as stopping climate change I otherwise support, have insisted there will not be much biomass burning. Their campaign shows images of wind and solar exclusively.

Clean Water Action

Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs

Green Energy Future

But this is what we are actually going to get. I call it a bio-massacre:


Massachusetts logging for biomass

Michigan trees chipped for biomass

New Hampshire biomass plant

Don’t believe it? It was hard for me grasp as well. Still, there was that little word “biomass” in the definition of renewable energy. So I decided to check for myself.

Here was my first stunner: the national “25 x 25″ Steering Committee seems to be 100% agribusiness and logging interests. Ethanol and biomass. On their bios are found the words cattle, corn, biomass and forestry, not solar or wind.

The national “25 x 25″ mission statement reflects this commitment to biofuels and biomass:

25x’25 Vision: By 2025, America’s farms, forests and ranches will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber.

When questioned about national “25 x 25″ being primarily big ag and big timber, Michigan “25 x 25″ supporters responded saying they have little to do with the national organization. Really? That’s odd. Because the national “25 x 25″ organization brags on their website that they have influenced state laws and they include Michigan as a place where good things are happening.

And then the Michigan 25 x 25 Jobs and Energy Report was released. It was produced at Michigan State University, our state’s agricultural college. It was written not by the solar and wind department, but by faculty from the Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Department with a huge vested interest in biomass and biofuels.

The report projects a nearly 300% increase in biomass. The red line on the chart below indicates the projected increase in biomass plant staffing.

2012-11-04-biomassjobyears.jpg The authors of the report also aren’t shy about describing the new opportunities for their friends:

… the impact to the agricultural and forestry sector is anticipated to be… significant. Accounting for direct and indirect impacts due to feed stock procurement, transportation, logistics, storage etc., it is expected that biomass generation under a 25% RPS will result in nearly 12,000 job years.

(Please note: boosters of “25 x 25″ routinely turn “job years” into “jobs” – e.g. one job for 25 years is 25 “job years.” This means 75,000 “job years” gets turned into 75,000 “jobs” when it should be more like 3,000.)

And just what is the aforementioned “feedstock procurement?” In large part, logging. Ah, the wonderful green jobs! Logging, trucking, installing air quality control equipment, using bulldozers to move around giant piles of wood chips lest they spontaneously combust like this fire at Biomass One in Oregon, or this entire biomass plant that exploded in flames.

So widely known (except to the public) is this new opportunity for “green energy” that “Biomass Magazine” has already alerted its readers. The magazine cautions though, that making “25 x 25″ a constitutional amendment might be a mistake because it could draw “scrutiny and introduce more controversy than legislative action…” Yes that’s right, it’s easier to sell a bio-massacre beyond closed doors.

But there’s more. The burning of woody biomass isn’t all we’re going to get. The chart below reveals a big helping of biogas as well as biomass.


What are the other biogas and biomass sources besides trees and forests? Confined animal feed operations, landfill gases, burning garbage including old homes and tires, human and agricultural “waste.” All have serious issues and depend on enormous fossil fuel intensive systems. But those are not my main concerns – it’s the burning of the source of our clean air and clean water as “green energy” that is my nightmare. Only two great planetary systems are capable of soaking up the CO2, our forests and our oceans. It makes no sense to destroy either one of them.

But alas the bio-massacre isn’t just in our future. It’s the reality of “renewable energy” right now:


Burlington, Vermont biomass plant. Note whole trees looking like matchsticks in this photo prior to chipping.

–In Vermont, the biggest single contributor to climate change and air pollution is their “green energy” facility. An enormous biomass burner that only produces a fraction of the energy of a fossil fuel plant.

–There is at least 15 times more biomass burning RIGHT NOW in Michigan than solar and wind combined. Given this, is it ethical for “Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs” to ONLY show solar and wind on its photo “tour” of Michigan renewable energy? Here is what they won’t show you:

Cadillac, Michigan biomass plant

Enjoying Michigan’s sustainable state forests
–Michigan State University, the source of the “25 x 25″ report, has no wind and almost no solar yet has already obtained a permit to toss 24,000 tons of trees annually into their coal plant to meet their “renewable energy” goals, a feat which will actually increase the CO2 coming from the smokestack.

–In Holland, Michigan the Sierra Club has been fighting to stop a coal plant expansion. But Holland’s “clean energy” plan is in large part biomass burning disguised as “combined heat and power.” (The word “biomass” isn’t mentioned until page 31 in the proposal. That’s not an accident.)

So why are we getting so much burning in the name of green if wind and solar are such miracles? That’s a story for another day. Suffice to say there are issues with solar and wind that cannot be wished away. One major problem is that right now wind supplies only about 0.3 percent of Michigan’s electrical energy. To ramp that up to provide a significant share of our electricity would take tens of billions of dollars and 50 times more wind turbines than currently exist. Anyone think that’s going to happen?

And so it all comes back to cutting and burning our forests for energy. They say we would never denude the land of trees, yet that is the most common way civilizations end. It doesn’t happen in a day or a year, but blow by blow, cut by cut. We went though this once before. The trees are now smaller, stressed, and far less in extent. We won’t survive doing it again.


Michigan logging scenes from 120 years ago

It makes no sense to stop the tar sands, fight fracking, or end the horror of mountaintop removal to protect the living planet, if we then incinerate the living planet for energy. Let’s get back to our “roots.” Save the trees. Stand with them against any “renewable energy” scheme like “25 x 25″ that calls incinerating trees and forests “green energy.”

For more information about biomass burning go or to Partnership for Policy Integrity or this article I wrote.


Some of my friends in the professional environmental movement have reacted as expected yesterday when I called them out for having allowed biomass burning to be a huge part of what Michigan is going to get under Proposal 3 or “25 x 25.”  Accusations and anger.

It went down the same way when we stopped a local biomass plant from being built in Traverse City a few years ago: we got yelled at, several PR firms were hired to fight us, and most of the paid environmentalists sat on their hands. Two people from the Sierra Club did show up a few times out of hundreds of meetings for which we were thankful but by NO means were the drivers of this movement.

The movement was initiated, advanced and completed by citizens. For the Sierra Club to claim otherwise is insulting and wrong. In the end, despite the attacks of biomass supporters, 99% of our community was against biomass burning and the plan was withdrawn.

Now the accusations by biomass supporters are wild and desperate once again. They imply that I, a producer for Michael Moore, producer of a film about the radical environmentalist Paul Watson, might be in bed with or somehow aiding the Koch brothers. It’s a common tactic for those unable to deal with facts to resort to innuendos and slurs.

Perhaps people who live in glass houses should hesitate to pick up stones.

Let me tell you whose funding IS affiliated with fossil fuel money: “25 x 25.” Follow the money. Something called the “Green Tech Action Fund” in San Francisco has put up $1.3 million for the Michigan “25 x 25” campaign.  Who funds the Green Tech Action Fund? That would be “The Energy Foundation.” Who funds the “Energy Foundation?” That would be Pew Charitable Trust in part, which is Sun Oil or Sunoco. Who else helped fund “The Energy Foundation?” The Rockefeller Foundation. Who is the Rockefeller Foundation? That would be Exxon.

Yes BOTH sides of the energy debate are funded by the same people: giant corporations, the 1%, fossil fuel and otherwise.

Now I am not saying that everyone who has accepted money that in part originated with big oil money is automatically up to no good. I AM saying that that the world’s most powerful corporations, their corporate foundations, fossil fuel interests, investment bankers, and the uber wealthy, are NOT going fund the revolution that ends the growth machine that is killing the planet.

But they will fund “renewable energy” that includes biomass, ethanol, biofuels, etc. despite the insanity of burning trees or food or garbage as energy.

To be clear I have zero funding from anyone. I am a citizen doing what a citizen should do: not trusting what I am told by those in systems who think they know better than everyone, but checking for myself. And speaking out.

It was no accident I used facts from “25 x 25’s” own reports because I knew they would try to deny the biomass burning reality of green energy in our state; inquiries about biomass burning have been met with denials every step of the way. But supporters of “25 x 25” cannot refute my core contentions—not without calling their own experts and data wrong.

THEIR forecast for three times more biomass burning comes from THEIR jobs and energy report. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

THEIR report indicates for at least ten times more biomass burning than solar panels and as much as wind. One of them is wrong; their experts or those in charge of rhetoric.

“25 x 25” also has not answered to why they mislead the public about what’s included in the definition of renewable energy. It’s indisputable that biomass burning is on the ballot proposal.

And if this gets in the Michigan constitution do you REALLY think green groups can control timber and agriculture interests who make billions from biomass and biofuels? Look how hard it is to stop fossil fuel plants, and now we want to add more biomass, biogas and biofuel plants?

“25 x 25” has also not answered why they wildly exaggerated the jobs report by turning “job years” into jobs thus misleading the public.

And I have to tell you that the more I look into the reality of biomass burning in Michigan the uglier it seems. When I heard rumors that toxic creosote laden railroad ties and old houses were being burned as green biomass I thought that be hidden from the public. But no, it’s being bragged about on their website. Apparently railroad ties are being brought in from as far away as Canada, since Canada does not want this toxic stuff being burned in their own backyard.

This should come as no surprise because for a long time the largest green energy facility in Michigan was the giant waste incinerator in Detroit. Instead of “clean coal” we have “clean trash burning.”

There might be a few cases where burning off landfill gases is better than letting it escape but calling this green and subsidizing it as renewable energy is wrong because it subsidizes a giant environmental mistake.

Claims have been made it’s going to be “farm waste” as biomass. Well, in Michigan the reality of biomass burning is indeed 99% burning trees supplemented with “waste” on occasion. But let’s talk about burning to stop climate change for a minute. Burning farm “waste” does indeed like burning anything release CO2. That’s just physics. The concept of turning “waste” to energy is highly flawed and dependent on waste streams from fossil fuel intensive farms and CAFO’s.

Michigan voters should turn down Proposal 3 which will put in BIOMASSS BURNING in our state constitution.  THAT is a green nightmare. And environmental groups paid to promote “25 x 25” ought to learn that attacking citizens who speak out, is the wrong way to go.

United Nation’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) – or Sustained Profits for a Few?

Source: Biofuelwatch

Biofuelwatch factsheet about the Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) Initiative (June 2012)

Timed with this year’s Rio climate talks, 51 civil society organizations called on governments to reject the United Nations SEFA initiative on June 13th. Read the Open Letter: SEFA-Open-Letter

En Espanol: 

Energía sostenible para todos – ¿O sostenidos beneficios para unos pocos?

(Junio 2012)

Green Veneer | WWF Helps Industry More than Environment


By Jens Glüsing and Nils Klawitter


“Some people consider it outrageous that Spanish King Juan Carlos, who enjoys hunting big game, is the honorary president of WWF Spain. Here, a 2006 photo of Juan Carlos (right) during a hunting trip in Botswana.”


The WWF is the most powerful environmental organization in the world and campaigns internationally on issues such as saving tigers and rain forests. But a closer look at its work leads to a sobering conclusion: Many of its activities benefit industry more than the environment or endangered species.

Want to protect the rainforest? All it takes is €5 ($6.30) to get started. Save the gorillas? Three euros and you’re in. You can even do your part for nature with only 50 cents — as long as you entrust it to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which is still known by its original name of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States and Canada.

Last year, the WWF, together with German retail group Rewe, sold almost 2 million collectors’ albums. In only six weeks, the program raised €875,088 ($1.1 million), which Rewe turned over to the WWF.

The WWF has promised to do a lot of good things with the money, like spending it on forests, gorillas, water, the climate — and, of course, the animal the environmental protection group uses as its emblem, the giant panda.

Governments also entrust a lot of money to the organization. Over the years, the WWF has received a total of $120 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For a long time, German government ministries were so generous to the organization that the WWF even decided, in the 1990s, to limit the amount of government funding it could receive. The organization was anxious not to be seen as merely an extension of government environmental protection agencies.

Illusion of Aid

But can the WWF truly protect nature against human beings? Or do the organization’s attractive posters merely offer the illusion of help? Fifty years after the organization was founded, there are growing doubts as to the independence of the WWF and its business model, which involves partnering with industry to protect nature.

The WWF, whose international headquarters are located in Gland, Switzerland, is seen as the world’s most powerful conservation organization. It is active in more than 100 countries, where it enjoys close connections to the rich and the powerful. Its trademark panda emblem appears on Danone yoghurt cups and the clothing of jetsetters like Princess Charlene of Monaco. Companies pay seven-figure fees for the privilege of using the logo. The WWF counts 430,000 members in Germany alone, and millions of people give their savings to the organization. The question is how sustainably this money is actually being invested.

SPIEGEL traveled around South America and the Indonesian island of Sumatra to address this question. In Brazil, an agricultural industry executive talked about the first shipload of sustainable soybeans, certified in accordance with WWF standards, to reach Rotterdam last year, amid a flurry of PR hype. The executive had to admit, however, that he wasn’t entirely sure where the shipment had come from. In Sumatra, members of a tribal group reported how troops hired by WWF partner Wilmar had destroyed their houses, because they had stood in the way of unfettered palm oil production.

How Environmental Groups Gone Bad Greenwash Logging Earth’s Last Primary Old Forests

The Great Rainforest Heist

April 16, 2012

by Dr. Glen Barry | Rainforest Portal

The world’s pre-eminent environmental organizations, widely perceived as the leading advocates for rainforests and old growth, have for decades been actively promoting primary forest logging [search]. Groups like Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Environmental Defense Fund actively promote industrially logging Earth’s last old forests. Through their support of the existing “Forest Stewardship Council” (FSC), and/or planned compromised “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD), they are at the forefront of destroying ancient forests for disposable consumer items – claiming it is “sustainable forest management” and “carbon forestry”.

Rainforest movement corruption is rampant as these big bureaucratic, corporatist NGOs conspire to log Earth’s last primary rainforests and other old growth forests. Collectively the “NGO Old Forest Sell-Outs” are greenwashing FSC’s destruction of over 300,000,000 acres of old forests, destroying an area of primary rainforests and other old forests the size of South Africa (two times the size of Texas)! FSC and its members have built a massive market for continued business as usual industrially harvested primary forest timbers – with minor, cosmetic changes – certifying as acceptable murdering old forests and their life for consumption of products ranging from toilet paper to lawn furniture. Some 70% of FSC products contain primary forest timbers, and as little as 10% of any product must be from certified sources.

FSC has become a major driver of primary forest destruction and forest ecological diminishment. Despite certifying less than 10% of the world’s forest lands, their rhetoric and marketing legitimizes the entire tropical and old growth timber trade, and a host of even worse certifiers of old forest logging. It is expecting far too much for consumers to differentiate between the variety of competing and false claims that old growth timbers are green and environmentally sustainable – when in fact none are. While other certification schemes may be even worse, this is not the issue, as industrial first-time primary forest logging cannot be done ecologically sustainably and should not be happening at all. FSC’s claims to being the best destroyer of primary forests is like murdering someone most humanely, treating your slaves the best while rejecting emancipation, or being half pregnant.

To varying degrees, most of the NGO Old Forest Sell-Outs also support the United Nations’ new “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” program (UNREDD, REDD, or REDD+), originally intended to protect Earth’s remaining and rapidly diminishing primary rainforests and other old forests, by making “avoided deforestation” payments to local forest peoples as an international climate and deforestation solution. Large areas of primary and old-growth forests were to be fully protected from industrial development, local communities were to both receive cash payments while continuing to benefit from standing old forests, and existing and new carbon was to be sequestered.

After years of industry, government and NGO forest sell-out pressure, REDD+ will now fund first time industrial primary rainforest logging and destruction under the veil of “sustainable forest management” and “carbon forestry”. REDD+ is trying to be all things to everybody – forest logging, protection, plantations, carbon, growth – when all we need is local funding to preserve standing forests for local advancement, and local and global ecology; and assurances provided REDD+ would not steal indigenous lands, or be funded by carbon markets, allowing the rich to shirk their own emissions reductions.

Sustainable forest management in old forests is a myth and meaningless catchphrase to allow continued western market access to primary rainforest logs. Both FSC and now REDD+ enable destruction of ancient naturally evolved ecosystems – that are priceless and sacred – for throw away consumption. Increasingly both FSC and REDD+ are moving towards certifying and funding the conversion of natural primary forests to be cleared and replanted as plantations. They call it carbon forestry and claim it is a climate good. Even selective logging destroys primary forests, and what remains is so greatly ecologically reduced from first time industrial logging, that they are on their way to being plantations.

Naturally evolved ancient forests are sacred and primeval life giving shrines, and standing and intact, large and contiguous primary rainforest and other old forests are a requirement for sustaining global ecology and achieving local advancement. Old forests are a vital part of the biosphere’s ecological infrastructure – and have a prominent, central role in making the Earth habitable through their cycling of carbon, energy, water, and nutrients. Planetary boundaries have been exceeded, we have already lost too many intact terrestrial ecosystems, and what remains is in adequate to sustain global ecology.

Primary rainforests cannot be logged in an ecologically sustainable manner; once logged – selectively, certified, legally or not – for throw-away consumer crap, their primary nature is destroyed, and ecological composition and dynamics are lost forever. What remains is permanently ecologically diminished in terms of composition, structure, function, dynamics, and evolutionary potential. Logged primary forests’ carbon stores, biodiversity and ecosystems will never be the same in any reasonable time-span. Selective, industrially logged primary rainforests become fragmented, burn more and are prone to outright deforestation.

Primary forest logging is a crime against Earth, the human family and all life – and those doing the logging, profiting and greenwashing the ecocide are dangerous criminals – who must be stopped and brought to justice. There is a zero chance of protecting and ending first time industrial logging of primary rainforests when the NGO Old Forest Sell-Outs say it is sustainable, even desirable, and continue to greenwash FSC old growth timber markets – now to be expanded with potential REDD funding – providing crucial political cover and PR for forest ecocide through their presence in the organizations.

Each of the named organizations’ forest campaigns are a corrupt shell of their former selves – acting unethically and corruptly – destroying global ecology and local options for advancement, for their own benefit. The rainforest logging apologists have chosen power, prestige and money coming from sitting at the old forest logging mafia’s table, gathering the crumbs fallen from the table to enrich their empires, rather than the difficult yet necessary job of working to fully protect rainforests and other primary forests from industrial development.

WWF, Greenpeace, and RAN are particularly culpable. With rainforests threatened as never before, RAN targets the Girl Scouts, Greenpeace supports Kleenex’s clearcut of Canadian old growth boreal forests for toilet paper, and WWF runs a bad-boy logger club who pay $50,000 to use the panda logo while continuing to destroy primary forests.

The only way this NGO old forest greenwash logging machine will be stopped is to make doing so too expensive to their corporate bureaucracies in terms of lost donations, grants, and other support – whose sources are usually unaware of the great rainforest heist. Ecological Internet – the rainforest campaign organization I head – and others feel strongly, based upon the urgency of emerging ecological science, and our closeness to global ecological collapse, that it is better to fight like hell in any way we can to fully protect and restore standing old forests as the most desirable forest protection outcome. Greenwash of first time industrial primary forest logging must be called out wherever it is occurring, and resisted by those in the global ecology movement committed to sustaining local advancement and ecosystems from standing old forests. There is no value in unity around such dangerous, ecocidal policy.

Despite tens of thousands of people from around the world asking these pro-logging NGOs to stop their old forest logging greenwash, none of the organizations (who routinely campaign against other forest destroyers, making similar demands for transparency and accountability) feel obligated to explain in detail – including based upon ecological-science – how logging primary forests protects them. Nor can they provide any detailed justification – or otherwise defend – the ecology, strategy and tactics of continued prominent involvement in FSC and REDD primary forest logging. They clearly have not been following ecological science over the past few years, which has made it clear there is no such thing as ecologically sustainable primary forest logging, and that large, old, contiguous, un-fragmented and fully ecologically intact natural forests are critical to biodiversity, ecosystems, and environmental sustainability.

We must end primary and other old forest logging for full community protection and restoration. The human family must protect and restore old forests – starting by ending industrial-scale primary forest logging – as a keystone response to biodiversity, ecosystem, climate, food, water, poverty and rights crises that are pounding humanity, ecosystems, plants and animals. There is no such thing as well-managed, sustainable primary forest logging – first time industrial harvest always destroys naturally evolved and intact ecosystems.

Humanity can, must and will – if it wishes to survive – meet wood product demand from certified regenerating and aging secondary growth and non-toxic, native species plantations. Humanity must meet market demand for well-managed forest timbers by certifying only 1) small-scale community eco-forestry practiced by local peoples in their primary forests (at very low volumes for special purposes and mostly local consumption), 2) regenerating and aging secondary forests regaining old-growth characteristics, and 3) non-toxic and mixed species plantations under local control. Further, reducing demand for all timber and paper products is key to living ecologically sustainably with old forests.

Local community development based upon standing old forests including small scale eco-forestry is fine. Small scale community eco-forestry has intact primary forests as its context for seed and animal sources, and management that mimics natural disturbance and gap species establishment. It is the industrial first time logging – selective logging, defined as selecting all merchantable, mature trees and logging them– turning primary forests into plantations, that is problematic. The goal must remain to maximize the extent, size, and connectivity of core primary forest ecosystems, to maximize global and local ecosystem processes, and local advancement and maintained well-being from standing old forests.

By dragging out the forest protection fight on a forest by forest basis, until ecological collapse becomes publicly acknowledged and society mobilizes, we can hold onto more ecosystems, biodiversity, and carbon than logging them a tiny bit better now. Soon – as abrupt climate change and global ecosystem collapse become even more self-evident – the human family will catch up with the ecological science and realize old forest destruction and diminishment must end as we ramp up natural regeneration and ecological restoration of large, connected natural forests adequate to power the global ecosystem. As society awakens to the need to sustain the biosphere, having as many intact ecosystems for models and seed sources for restoration as possible will be key to any sort of ecology and human recovery.

Rainforest protection groups engaged in greenwashing primary forest logging (an oxymoron misnomer if ever there was one), particularly while offering no defense of doing so, while raising enormous sums for rainforest “protection”, must be stopped. We must continue to call upon all big NGOs to resign from FSC and REDD, and join us in consistently working to end primary forest logging, and protect and restore old forests. Until they do, they must be boycotted and their funding cut off – even if this impacts other good works they may do, as old forests are such a fundamental ecological issue – until they stop greenwashing the final destruction of primary forests. And it is past time for their supporters to end their memberships as ultimately these big NGO businesses are more concerned with their image and money than achieving global forest policy that is ecologically sufficient, truthful, and successful.

As a rainforest movement, we must return to the goal of a ban on industrially harvested primary forest timbers. This means continuing to resist and obstruct old forest harvest, businesses (including NGO corporate sell-outs) involved, timber marketing, transportation, storage, milling, product construction, product marketing, and consumption. The entire supply chain for ecocidal primary forest timbers must be destroyed. More of us must return to the forests to work with local communities to build on-the-ground desire and capacity for ecologically inspired advancement from standing old forests, and physically obstructing old forest logging. We must make stolen, ill-gotten old wood from life-giving ecosystems an unacceptable taboo, like gorilla hand ash-trays, only worse. Together we must make old forest revolution.


Join and follow the End Old Forest Logging campaign at


Keystone XL Theatre | Why did Obama Choose NRDC Founder John Bryson as his Commerce Secretary?

Published January 26, 2012 by Political Context

By Cory Morningstar

Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC, on the nomination of NRDC founder John Bryson by President Barack Obama: “As one of the founders of NRDC, John Bryson is a visionary leader in promoting a clean environment and a strong economy. He has compiled an exemplary record in public service and in business that underscores the strong linkage between economic and environmental progress.”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – David Rockefeller, the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family

As Sands Action Coalition continue to fill the self-proclaimed “progressive media” airwaves with self-congratulatory articles of strategic grassroots efforts and so-called victories, many are aware of the fact that a key player collaborating with the “Tar Sands Action” coalition is the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council). Forgetting for a moment the beginnings and correlation between, the Rockefellers, the Clintons and big business, what other ties to the very industry and administration could these “environmental groups” such as NRDC behold? One such revelation known to few is the fact that NRDC’s John Bryson was confirmed as Barack Obama‘s Commerce Secretary on 20 October 2011. Who nominated Bryson to fill this position? President Barack Obama himself nominated Bryson as Secretary of Commerce on 31 May 2011. Obama’s nomination was endorsed by key corporate players including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Bryson co-founded NRDC in 1970 by way of a $400,000 grant, courtesy of the Ford Foundation. Bryson has served on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change alongside other elite associates of powerful corporations such as Tata (India) and ESKOM Holdings (South Africa). (And as Rio+20 will prove, the United Nations has become as corrupt an institution as the nations that control it; an instrumental tool for serving the world’s powerful oligarchy. It is nothing less than a Greek Tragedy that it has taken 20 years to figure this out – a further tragedy being that we citizens still delude ourselves that we can influence these negotiations, in any meaningful way. We cling to denial, our fingers blue, eyes wide shut. [1])

WWF Denies Palm Oil is the Problem, then Counts the Cash

November 23rd, 2011

The Unsuitablog

It seems there is no depth to which the corporate world’s own favourite NGO, WWF, will not sink. An article in this week’s Guardian was happy to give WWF some free publicity, implying that the group actually give a stuff about the wildlife they were apparently set up to protect (or simply to ensure there is enough to shoot, as some sources suggest). The Palm Oil industry is growing month on month as new swathes of rainforest and other critical habitat are razed to the ground. According to Rainforest Action Network:

Approximately 85 percent of palm oil is grown in the tropical countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) on industrial plantations[3] that have severe impacts on the environment, forest peoples and the climate.

The Indonesian government has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020

This is just on current growth in demand, but just you wait what happens when conventional oil supplies start drying up and biofuel demand starts shooting through the roof. No more rainforests.

So, what do WWF think of the palm oil situation?

Palm oil itself is not the issue,” [Adam] Harrison [of WWF] noted. “The problem is how and where palm oil is produced.

Oh, I see. What he is saying is that we can have as much palm oil as we like so long as it’s produced in the right way. Let’s put that into context by quoting from the article some more:

The WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard, published on Tuesday, rates 132 mainly European companies, 29 of which received full marks, including 15 from UK such as Cadbury, Boots and Waitrose. No company achieved that level in the last scorecard report in 2009. At the bottom of the 2011 list are big retailers like Aldi, Lidl and Edeka from Germany, who refused to answer any questions about their palm oil policies.

“In the UK in particular we see progress,” said Adam Harrison, palm oil expert at WWF UK. “Due to several campaigns highlighting the damage caused by the rapid spread of palm plantations, companies see they are under pressure and respond.”

But he added: “Although there has been some progress on sustainable palm oil, new commitments are simply not translating fast enough into increased use of certified sustainable palm oil.” The report gives Unilever, the world’s biggest buyer of palm oil, 8 out of a possible 9.

Some companies bad, some companies good, apparently. Unilever are the world’s largest processors of palm oil, so that should instantly put them near the front of the queue for criticism, after all if the companies didn’t put palm oil into their products then it wouldn’t be used, as was the case as little as 10 years ago when “vegetable oil” meant all sorts of different oils that invariably didn’t contribute to the removal of vast areas of rainforest. So how do WWF justify giving a company like Unilever such a brilliant score?

The Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard 2011 measures the performance of more than 130 major retailers and consumer goods manufacturers against four areas which WWF
believes show whether or not these companies are acting responsibly in terms of palm oil use and sourcing:

• Being an active member of the RSPO;
• Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;
• Disclosing how much palm oil they use;
• Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

Let’s break that down a bit:

Being an active member of the RSPO;

The RSPO were founded by a band of palm oil growers, processing giants and WWF. According to WWF’s definition of “sustainable palm oil” the RSPO is the only organisation that has any credence; just like with “sustainable” timber WWF ignores, and positively campaigns against, any certifier other than FSC. WWF’s investment arm is raking in billions of dollars (I have been told this could be in the range of $60 billion for just one standards-based scheme in the Amazon) from the various schemes it oversees and then takes a cut from. The RSPO is just another such scheme: if WWF can convince everyone that this burgeoning market can be made “sustainable” then the potential from their founder member status for making money is enormous.

Making a public commitment to RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil;

The public commitment, along with the branding on products as strongly suggested by WWF, provides further credibility for this pork barrel scheme. No other certification counts, even if the palm oil was produced in an area that always contained oil palm.

Disclosing how much palm oil they use;

This serves to show the extent to which RSPO is cornering the palm oil market. Not just that, the relationship between RSPO members and WWF is a circular one; according to RSPO:

By joining the RSPO, organizations publicly communicate their commitment to sustainable palm oil production and use as well as to raise their reputation as a pro-active, solution-oriented and socially responsible organization. Ordinary Members have the right to vote at the General Assembly and can be elected to represent the relevant sector in the Executive Board by the category in question. They can have access to all materials produced by RSPO for its members, through the RSPO website and newsletter. Ordinary Members have a say in the development of criteria for sustainable palm oil production. They also have the opportunity to network with other companies in the palm oil value chain that share their values. By demonstrating their efforts towards sustainable palm oil, they can thereby improve their access to markets and investment sources.

Become a member, especially a large-scale member, and you can even change the meaning of the word “sustainable”. More importantly, you have access to all that filthy lucre. WWF, of course, get a cut of that filthy lucre.

Showing how much of the palm oil they use is CSPO or is supporting sustainable production.

CSPO means Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (a.k.a. RSPO Certified Palm Oil). Simply put, the more RSPO palm oil you use, the better your score. No matter that the members of the RSPO can manipulate the certification to suit the industry and it is in WWF’s interest to keep the biggest members on the table to ensure the RSPO monopoly is retained. As reported by Rebecca Zhou:

WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Manager Lydia Gaskell says that companies wanting to be certified are given action plans and targets according to ‘the size of the company and how sustainable they are.’

“To take a company off certification for failing to meet standards and criteria is at the very least, impractical,” said Gaskell. “There would be no need for the RSPO if everyone was meeting those principles and standards from day one.”

What really shouts out, though, is the text from WWF’s own report, which demonstrates in black and white how much value they really give to a sustainable future as compared to one in which industry holds sway over everything. They do not recommend stopping the industrial use of palm oil; instead they look forward to a thriving palm oil future. I recommend a strong stomach if you are to read the following slice of corporate-friendly PR (the emphasis of doublespeak and greenwash is mine) – after which I feel only 5 more words are necessary:

Oil palm yields more oil per hectare of land than any other crop in the world. That is one of the reasons why palm oil makes up more or less a third of the 151 million tonnes of vegetable oil produced worldwide. Its wide availability and low price combined with certain unique characteristics means that it is used in many packaged food and personal care products that line supermarket shelves. Ice cream, margarine, biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, soup stock cubes, snacks, ready meals, instant noodles, shampoos, soaps, lipsticks, candles and washing-up liquids—all of these items often contain palm oil that was produced in tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is here to stay. Demand is expected to reach 77 million tonnes in 2050 to help feed the world’s growing population and the increased affluence of emerging economies like China and India. And its use may possibly grow even more if demand increases for palm oil as a biofuel.

The thriving palm oil industry also contributes significantly to the well-being of producer countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, and increasingly in the palm oil frontiers of Africa and Latin America. In these countries and regions, the palm oil sector can create employment that helps to lift rural people out of poverty.

Established brands such as ASDA , Carrefour, IKEA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, that are relatively large users of palm oil (using tens of thousands of tonnes each year) have progressed very well. Medium-sized users such as Co-op Switzerland, Co-operative Group UK, ICA, Marks & Spencer, Migros, Royal Ahold and Waitrose, have also performed well in their size class. Among the small palm oil volume retailers, Axfood, The Body Shop and the Boots Group are ahead of the curve.

There is a second group of retailers that are at the start of their journey and that WWF expects to do better in future Scorecards. These include Casino, Coles Supermarkets, Delhaize Group, E.Leclerc, Kesko Food, Metcash Trading, REWE Group, the SOK Group and Woolworths.

Unfortunately there is still a large number of companies that are not yet performing as well as they should, and certainly not as well as the Scorecard’s leading companies show is possible.

Disappointingly, 12 out of the 44 retailers scored have still not joined the RSPO, a very basic first step in taking responsibility for the palm oil they use.

…and benefiting WWF’s financial performance.

Must Watch Interview with WWF doc maker in English | The Silence of the Panda

Interview with WWF doc maker in English:

English subtitled interview with Wilfried Huismann, the maker of the documentary ‘The silence of the Pandas’, just before it was broadcasted on German TV. Contains some previews of the documentary and some extra items.

Shock documentary: WWF and industry – The pact with the Panda

Tuesday, 05 July 2011

The article below summarises the contents of the recently broadcast German documentary ‘The silence of the Pandas’, which exposed WWF’s close ties with corporations, including Monsanto. The film has caused shockwaves in Germany and many donors have reportedly withdrawn their support for WWF.

An English-subtitled interview with Wilfried Huismann, the maker of the documentary ‘The silence of the Pandas’, is here.

EXCERPTS: since 2010 Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans have been certified as “sustainable” by the “Round Table on Responsible Soy” (RTRS). The certification system was created at the initiative of the WWF.

Hartmut Vogtmann, head of the Deutscher Naturschutzring (German League for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection), is clearly outraged at this. In an internal letter to Detlev Drenckhahn, president of the German WWF division, he warns insistently against participating in the “Round Table on Responsible Soy”. In the letter, obtained by, Vogtmann argues that according to recent studies, through the cultivation of soy, the use of pesticides has “increased tremendously … because more and more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, which is used in the cultivation of soybeans”. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, “causes malformations in embryos and leads to higher rates of cancer,” he writes with respect to an investigation, and concludes: The Round Table, co-founded by the WWF, is “artificially keeping a failed system of agriculture alive”.

… Even before its initial screening, the film clearly stirred the German affiliate of the WWF. Attempts were made, through warnings and media attorneys, to influence the broadcast and to cancel interviews.

And what is one to think when the organization, in response to inquiries by the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, admits to having accepted donations from Monsanto? And of the fact that the promotion of genetic engineering by Jason Clay is termed an “individual opinion of an outsider”? In fact, he is not. He is the vice president of the WWF global organization.

Enquiries by WDR into the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
WWF and Industry – the Pact with the Panda[1]
By Lars Langenau[2]
22 June 2011
[German original:]

How industry-friendly is the WWF? On the fiftieth anniversary of the organization’s founding, the German broadcaster WDR did some behind-the-scenes research on the renowned globally operating environmental organization. Its explosive documentary shows how deeply the organization has become entrenched in economic interests and their billions in profits.

Baby tigers, polar bear cubs, young orangutans – cute and cuddly and evoking sympathy with their big eyes and snub noses. They have the perfect look that appeals to children. There’s only one thing that tops them all: the panda, cuddliness personified.

The panda is the poster animal of the globally renowned World Wide Fund for Nature, also still known today by its former name, the World Wildlife Fund. According to market research, the most powerful nature conservation organization in the world has one of the most credible images in the world. For 50 years it has stood for climate protection, sustainability, and the maintenance of the earth’s biological diversity.

And it is always in search of donors – in the service of nature. Children will not hesitate to raid their piggy banks; they collect animal pictures that the supermarket giant Rewe, in cooperation with the WWF, was until recently giving away with purchases, setting off a collection frenzy (“Animals – adventure. Discover all of them!”). Donors are made to feel as though they are buying a little piece of an ideal world.

But reality, at least in part, looks in fact quite different.

According to research by the WDR, the influential environmental organization WWF with its annual donations of around 500 million euro, its 4,000 employees, and affiliates in more than 100 countries, has become entwined in industry interests – the report raises the question whether the work of the organization can be reconciled with the slogan “For a living Planet”.

In the WDR documentary “The Pact with the Panda”, which was broadcast by ARD[3] last Wednesday at 11:30 PM, Wilfried Huismann, the recipient of several Grimme [media] awards, suggests that donors’ credulity is in some cases stretched rather thin for interests that scarcely serve the preservation of the planet.

Journey around the globe

Huismann documents that the WWF is clearly helping dubious companies obtain “sustainability certificates”. The organization cooperates in “roundtables” with GMO companies such as the agricultural giant Monsanto and the multinational Wilmar Group – and then certifies that they produce soy and palm oil “sustainably”.

In the film, the nature conservation organization justifies such close cooperation as a “non-ideological” course that “accomplishes a great deal more than consistent rejection”. Huismann, through his research, shows what consequences this cooperation with industry can have.

Displacement of one million aboriginal inhabitants for the tiger

Among other things, he cites the massive, often forced displacement of native peoples in India and Indonesia, who had coexisted for centuries with the wild animals that they venerate as holy. Huismann traveled to India, where one million aboriginal inhabitants are to be displaced, allegedly for the protection of tigers. But local activists say this is nonsense. WWF’s Tiger Project has been in existence since 1974, when there were still 5000 tigers. If it had been successful, then at least 8000 should be living there now, says an environmental activist, but there are clearly far fewer. And these few big cats are followed around their tiger reserve for eight hours a day by eco-tourists brought in by the WWF’s own travel company in its 155 jeeps. According to research, the well-heeled guests must pay about $10,000 for the privilege, while local activists complain that in the name of eco-tourism the original forest is being destroyed.

In Argentina the issue is genetically modified monocultures that place stress on humans and the environment. Huismann traveled in the northern part of the country, in the Gran Chaco, once the largest savannah in the world. Nowadays half of it has been cut down and taken over by a monoculture of soybeans which is spreading to adjoining land and is alleged to make people sick. The WWF’s attitude? “As of today, the soy wasteland in South America covers an area twice the size of Germany,” says the narrator in the film. “And the acreage is scheduled to double. The Argentinian WWF supports the project because the forests here, in its opinion, are of ‘low value’, and have been ‘degraded’ by human use”. Of the original forest stock, nothing more is to be seen.

The tightrope act of an environmental protection organization

Huismann also traveled to Borneo, where slash-and-burn clearing for the monoculture of palms to produce palm oil has been advancing at a rapid pace. In return, those in charge are locally creating a token forest for precisely two orangutans. But even these are threatened with starvation due to the minimal size of the reserve, says Huismann: “80 hectares on a 14,000-hectare plantation, that’s 0.5 percent. Is that a success, when 99.5 percent is wiped out?” In one of the most powerful scenes in the film, Doerte Bieler, the WWF’s specialist for biomass, is confronted with this question and responds laconically: “Now, if the 80 hectares were no longer there, that would mean absolutely certain death. Then they would be dead already.”

When Bieler is asked by Huismann to give an example of successful cooperation with industry, she is unable to find an answer. What’s important to her is that the WWF as a non-governmental organization (NGO) is “not just to be ridiculed, but to be accepted as a competent discussion partner.”

In Indonesia Huismann is visiting a plantation, one that research shows has just been certified as “sustainable” with the help of the WWF, and in which unfiltered wastewater seeps in to the ground. With this certificate “the company can cash in on subsidies ‘for regenerative energy’,” says the film’s narrator, and adds: “And the WWF gets a fee for having advised the company in ‘sustainability’ issues. For both sides, this is a good deal.”

According to Huismann, one major bank alone is forking over $100 million for a “climate partnership” with the WWF. But meanwhile, in Indonesia, that very financial institution is financing clear cutting by palm oil companies, to which large parts of the rain forest have already fallen victim. Despite that, the WWF sits down with the major players in the food industry at a “Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil” (RSPO). Other NGOs, such as Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace, are distancing themselves, have left this round, or were never part of it.

Married to aristocracy – of blood or of money

The film also documents the involvement of aristocracy, whether of blood or of money, in the WWF. Its honorary president is Prince Philip. In an exclusive interview with the WDR he justifies hunting wild animals this way: “A balance among the species must be created. This can’t be left to nature. By decimating predators, you protect the animals.” The 90-year-old consort of the Queen of England defends his own shooting of a tiger in 1961 by noting that, after all, it was only one.

The secret “Club of 1001″

The WWF was co-founded largely by members of European aristocratic families. Huismann speculates that the organization was established only because, in the era of decolonization, the higher nobility were afraid of losing their hunting preserves. Their motto was still that of colonialism: “Nature is the absence of people – or at least of locals,” says Huismann to Süddeutsche Zeitung (, one of Germany’s largest dailies.

Over the last few decades, hardly any donation, and hardly any donor, was objectionable to the WWF, from Dow Chemical and Shell all the way to – at least for WWF USA – Monsanto itself.

Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the organization’s first president, also founded the “Club of 1001″, a sort of “Friends of the WWF”, in which the western elite meets to this day. Its members are primarily from industry. In the early days even leading figures in the South African apartheid regime belonged to the Club, along with members of the Argentine junta and state terrorists such as Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Membership in this green country club is still secret. Only a few prominent members have left, mainly members of the aristocracy, says Huismann. According to his research, at least during the mid-eighties, many major figures from the German industrial elite were also members, from the bankers Robert von Pferdmenges and Hermann Abs to Friedrich Flick and Bertold Beitz.

Inhuman broadcasting time

That is a thing of the past, as the film’s narrator also says. But today, too, the WWF does not have many reservations. Thus, since 2010 Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans have been certified as “sustainable” by the “Round Table on Responsible Soy” (RTRS). The certification system was created at the initiative of the WWF.

Hartmut Vogtmann, head of the Deutscher Naturschutzring (German League for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection), is clearly outraged at this. In an internal letter to Detlev Drenckhahn, president of the German WWF division, he warns insistently against participating in the “Round Table on Responsible Soy”. In the letter, obtained by, Vogtmann argues that according to recent studies, through the cultivation of soy, the use of pesticides has “increased tremendously … because more and more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, which is used in the cultivation of soybeans”. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, “causes malformations in embryos and leads to higher rates of cancer,” he writes with respect to an investigation, and concludes: The Round Table, co-founded by the WWF, is “artificially keeping a failed system of agriculture alive”.

The WWF Germany wrote to on this issue: “We are continuing to cooperate with the RTRS because we want more GM-free soy, and in general, we want to minimize the environmental damage caused by soy cultivation, such as the destruction of forests.”

Meanwhile, the WWF has published a “fact check” on its website, stating, among other things: “We reject genetic engineering. We will do so until it is proven that genetically modified plants are completely harmless for the environment, for biodiversity and for us humans. This position of the WWF International applies to all WWF national organizations.” However, it is conceded that, at the level of “individual national organizations, there are also employees whose opinion does not conform to the official WWF position. This is particularly true for countries in which the share of genetically engineered crops in agriculture is already very high, such as the USA und Argentina”.

Even before its initial screening, the film clearly stirred the German affiliate of the WWF. Attempts were made, through warnings and media attorneys, to influence the broadcast and to cancel interviews.

And what is one to think when the organization, in response to inquiries by the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, admits to having accepted donations from Monsanto? And of the fact that the promotion of genetic engineering by Jason Clay is termed an “individual opinion of an outsider”? In fact, he is not. He is the vice president of the WWF global organization.

Copyright 2011 © GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

1. This article was posted on the homepage of at 7:00 PM on 22 June 2011 where it remained in the top position for over 24 hours when it was moved further down to make room for more pressing news. It remained on the homepage until the evening of 24 June, the day a different article on the same issue was published in the print version of Süddeutsche Zeitung (p. 19 – Im Namen des Pandas: Der WDR dokumentiert die Verstrickung des Naturschutzverbandes mit Industrie und Lobbyisten.) In that second article the paper focuses more on the events that occurred immediately after the TV documentary was broadcast.
2. Translation from the original article in German by Larrass Translations, Ottawa
3. May be viewed online from the official ARD website media archive at

Greenpeace forest team works hard toward REDD – A False Solution Opposed by Indigenous Around the World

Forest Code becomes real at UNFCCC climate discussions

Blogpost by John Bowler – June 16, 2011 at 11:14

Bonn jour :-) and "hi" from the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany where the Greenpeace forest team is working hard to secure a good REDD deal. The REDD concept is fairly simple: rich, developed countries provide funding to help developing countries protect their forests and invest in clean, green development). But we are not just listening, lobbying and negotiating. We are also campaigning. Last week we held a side event focused on the consultancy company McKinsey. I’m not going to get into that here so if you want to know more about that go to David’s blog. What I want to let you know about is a spoof presidential decree from Brazil’s President Dilma that we distributed yesterday morning.

The decree was about Brazil’s Forest Code and although not under discussion here we believe it to be of such importance that we could not let the negotiations end without bringing the problem to the attention of the world’s governments represented here.

Brazil is seen as a leader in reducing rainforest destruction so it is all the more important and urgent to let the international community know what is going on with the Forest Code. The new proposed version of the Forest Code is a dismal affair. It will weaken what in fact is a good law: it will grant amnesty to those who have deforested; reduce the areas to be protected; and lessen the responsibility of the government.

The new Forest Code, if it ever becomes law, will drastically reduce forest protection and kill the government’s goal to achieve an 80% reduction in Amazonian deforestation.

So yesterday morning a small team gathered inside the venue lobby and distributed the spoof decree to delegates as they entered for their early morning meetings. The response was good. Many of those reading it could be seen smiling once they realised that it was not true but a smart Greenpeace communication on what is required to protect Brazil’s rainforests. Simple, and let’s hope effective in initiating international support for President Dilma to deliver on her pre-election promises.

(John Bowler is Greenpeace Forest campaigner, from the UNFCCC Intersessionals in Bonn)

Wilderness Society greenwashes Frontier Airlines

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Wilderness Society greenwashes Frontier Airlines

Posted by Anirvan Chatterjee ? May 26, 2011 ? Leave a Comment


How much does greenwash cost? $350,000, max. That’s how much Frontier Airlines is contributing to the Wilderness Society. In return, the low-cost airline received widespread media coverage of its environmental commitment. The Wilderness Society followed up by emailing members on May 17, describing how “thrilled” they are to be working with “Frontier Airlines – an airline aiming to become one of America’s greenest.”

What’s wrong with this story? The Wilderness Society claims to care about climate issues, but they seem to have forgotten that aviation causes 5% of human climate impacts.

A “green” airline is like a “green” coal company; small donations don’t erase the fact that Frontier Airlines’ success comes directly at the expense of our shared global climate—and low-cost carriers like Frontier are particularly problematic.

Unhappy about the Wilderness Society’s greenwashing of dirty aviation? Let them know.

(Image credit: fotdmike at Flickr)

From Greenpeace to Greenwash

Weekend Edition
April 29 – May 1, 2011

A Concise History of the Rise and Fall of the Environmental Establishment

How Green Became the Color of Money


From Greenpeace to Greenwash

Over the past quarter-century, Greenpeace has gone from one of the more radical environmental groups around to a gateway into the corporate world. More and more a stint at Greenpeace seems to be prerequisite on the resumé of top-flight public relations honchos. Greenpeace has already seen former executive Patrick Moore defect to the timber industry in Canada and Paul Gilding (former CEO of Greenpeace International) set up a consulting firm for such corporate villains as DuPont, Monsanto and Placer Dome Mining.

One of the most high-profile Greenpeacers to cash in is Lord Peter Melchett, former head of Greenpeace UK, who in 2002 took a position with Burson-Marsteller, the notorious PR firm. While at Greenpeace, Lord Melchett led the group’s high-profile campaign against genetically-engineered foods, targeting, in particular, the products of Monsanto, a Burson-Marsteller client.

According to a company press release, Lord Melchett will head a committee advising companies on how to deal with thorny issues such as GM food, toxic waste, oil drilling, nuclear power, child labor and sweatshops in the developing world. Burson-Marsteller executives told the Guardian newspaper of London that his lordship will also dispense advice on how Burson-Marsteller clients can counter environmental protests.

Lord Melchett knows the protest scene from the inside. He’s been called the José Bove of Britain, after he was arrested in 2001 for destroying a plot of genetically-engineered sugar beets in Norfolk. But the Eton-educacted Lord Melchett’s knows the corporate world even better. Melchett is a member of the House of Lords, his father headed British Steel and his great-grandfather founded the ICI chemical empire.

Greenpeace executives in Britain said they saw no conflict of interest in Lord Melchett’s defection to the dark side. "Anyone who knows him will know that he hasn’t changed his agenda at all," said Stephen Tisdale, then director of Greenpeace UK. "He sees Burson-Marsteller as a conduit to some very influential companies who would not normally talk to environmentalists. In some ways, Greenpeace held him back, and he has become more radical after leaving last year."

That last bit is a stark admission of how thoroughly impotent Greenpeace has become. For those who have forgotten, Burson-Marsteller is the pr firm of last resort. They rushed to defend Union Carbide after the company killed 2,000 people and injured thousands more in Bhopal, India. It also ran cover for Babcock and Wilcox after the company’s nuclear reactor suffered a near meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979. They’ve represented Exxon and Monsanto, big tobacco, the Argentine junta, Indonesia’s Suharto, the Saudi royal family, and Nicolae Ceausescu, the late Romanian dictator.

Lord Melchett joined some old friends at Burson-Marsteller. Richard Aylard, the former head of Soil Association (which represents organic farmers) and Gavin Grant, a former environmental adviser to the Body Shop, both worked full-time the pr giant. While the others have severed their ties with environmental groups, Lord Melchett remained on the board of Greenpeace International.

In an email to John Stauber, former director of PR Watch, a former Greenpeace executive lamented that Lord Melchett’s defection was a sign of the moribund condition of the big time environmental movement.

"The Lord Melchetts of the activist (and now corporate) world are only one symptom of a broader contagion. Is there even a real environmental movement anymore? How accountable are NGOs to their own base? … Look how little is being accomplished in addressing Global Warming in the U.S. at a time when it’s obviously a national security issue and a global security issue. I think this is in part because the environmental groups don’t believe in mass movement building like they used to. Most of us are treated like consumer and spectator activists — expected to pay our membership dues and trust that full-time salaried activists will solve the issue — without expecting to get involved ourselves. How easy it is to confuse salaried NGO actors with real movement leaders. And when they leave to work for corporations, if they haven’t built a base that can carry on the radical push for change, how weak the organizations become that they leave behind. But alas, Lord Melchett hasn’t even fully left Greenpeace: Should Greenpeace International allow an employee of Burson-Marsteller on their board?"

The question might well be reversed. Given Greenpeace’s utter corrosion does it really serve the interests of the corporate spin doctors to recruit from their ranks anymore? These days picking up a Greenpeace staffer is little different than hiring away a pr flack from any other corporation.

To be continued.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of sitka.

This essay is excerpted from the forthcoming book GreenScare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

Click here to read Part One.

Click here to read Part Two.

Click here to read Part Three.

Click here to read Part Four.

Click here to read Part Four.

Click here to read Part Five.

Click here to read Part Six.

Click here to read Part Seven.

Click here to read Part Eight.

Click here to read Part Nine.

Click here to read Part Ten.

Click here to read Part Eleven.

First Nations excluded from world’s largest conservation agreement

First Nations excluded from world’s largest conservation agreement

Julius Melnitzer July 8, 2010

Twenty-one forestry companies and nine environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, have signed what purports to be the world’s largest conservation agreement. But Rosanne Van Schie, an economic development officer with Wolf Lake First Nation, says that The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, demarking logging and conservation activities, was developed without First Nations input and without regard to the rights and social realities of First Nations. This despite the fact that the territorial scope of the agreement covers land over which First Nations have negotiated historic and modern day treaties or have claims extant. The Canadian Boreal Initiative recognizes that more than 600 First Nations communities maintain traditional roots in the Boreal.

Read more:

Campaign to Correct NRDC Continues at Bar Association

March 10, 2010

NRDC again was targeted for supporting gas drilling in NYS and beyond

By Kerry

A coordinated campaign to challenge the promotion of gas drilling by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a corporate-friendly environmental organization which has come under fire in recent years for its controversial stances, funding sources, and what-some-perceive as a Board of Directors with many conflicts of interests between their ties to polluting industry and the mission of the organization expanded into Midtown today.

Related: NRDC Blasted For Gas Drilling Support: Activists exposed NRDC’s support for gas drilling at Green Drinks event in West Village

Keywords: News, Bronx, Nature,

A coordinated campaign to challenge the promotion of gas drilling by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a corporate-friendly environmental organization which has come under fire in recent years for its controversial stances, funding sources, and what-some-perceive as a Board of Directors with many conflicts of interests between their ties to polluting industry and the mission of the organization expanded into Midtown today.

Activists crashed the event:

Marcellus Shale: Shall We Drill?

Co-sponsored by the New York City Bar Environmental Law Committee and the Environmental Law Institute

at the New York City Bar Association

the Moderator: Jeff Gracer, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C. and the Panelists: Kate Sinding, NRDC Thomas West, Counsel for Chesapeake Energy Corporation Hilary Meltzer, New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office The activity was promoted by the NYC Environmental Meetup Group although all of the panelists support gas drilling.

Fliers distributed stated: Stop Greenwash Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The NRDC has been an incredibly destructive force for the environmental movement in the United States. Now Greendrinks is providing legitimacy for this corporate “environmental” group.

But the NRDC supports gas drilling!

They have partnered with the worst polluting industry as part of the United States Climate Action Partnership to greenwash these industries’ role in polluting the local and global environment. USCAP advocates for: • Continued use of coal for decades • New Nuclear power plants • Targets for carbon stabilization of 450-550 ppm (when the entire world knows that 350 ppm is the outer limit of what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophic environmental destruction.

Ask NRDC to explain their betrayal inside. Or ask Greendrinks why NRDC is being allowed to our green party. Greendrinks has a sponsorship program – is NRDC appearing under that guise, and paying to present their greenwash?

See these websites for more information on NRDC polluter greenwash and the threat their support for ‘natural gas poses to the environment of New York State:

Stop Greenwash by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The NRDC has been an incredibly destructive force for the environmental movement in the United States. Now Greendrinks is providing legitimacy for this corporate “environmental” group. • But the NRDC supports gas drilling! • They have partnered with the worst polluting industry as part of the United States Climate Action Partnership to greenwash these industries’ role in polluting the local and global environment. USCAP advocates for: • Continued use of coal for decades • New Nuclear power plants • Targets for carbon stabilization of 450-550 ppm (when the entire world knows that 350 ppm is the outer limit of what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophic environmental destruction.

Ask NRDC to explain their betrayal inside. Or ask Greendrinks why NRDC is being allowed to our green party. Greendrinks has a sponsorship program – is NRDC appearing under that guise, and paying to present their greenwash?

See these websites for more information on NRDC polluter greenwash and the threat their support for ‘natural gas poses to the environment of New York State:

By Kerry

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Conservation projects displace locals | U.S. Nature Conservancy Exploitation

Friday, February 26, 2010

Listen to the show

Guarani people walk around their island village Several years ago three U.S. companies sank millions of dollars into a forest reserve in southern Brazil to earn credits to cover some of their carbon emissions back in America. How does the scheme work on the ground? Michael Montgomery reports in collaboration with Mark Schapiro.

Guarani people walk around their island village. (


  • Frontline/WORLD: Carbon Watch
    A project tracking the new currencies of global warming.
  • Center For Investigative Reporting: Carbon Watch
    A project looking at some of the key issues of climate change with a special focus on the trillion-dollar carbon trading market it has created.
  • Calculating the value of carbon in trees
    Delegates at the global climate summit failed to figure out a way to stop the destruction of the world’s forests. But some lawmakers think they have a solution, and it relies on financing from some of America’s biggest polluters. Michael Montgomery reports in collaboration with Mark Schapiro.
  • A green police trooper rides a boat in Brazil.A green police trooper rides a boat in Brazil.
  • Guarani tribal leader Leonardo Wera TupaGuarani tribal leader Leonardo Wera Tupa


BOB MOON: How about this idea: Save a tree in Brazil, keep polluting here at home. A plan pending in Congress would allow some of America’s biggest polluters to cancel out their emissions here, if they buy up endangered forests around the globe. Some U.S. firms have already been doing that by sinking millions of dollars into a forest reserve in southern Brazil. And how has that gone over with the locals down there?

Michael Montgomery has that story, in collaboration with Mark Schapiro of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Michael Montgomery: If you want to save a forest in Brazil, you might call on the services of the state’s Force Verde, or Green Police.

Recently, five Green Police troopers set out on a patrol of a nature reserve in the vast Atlantic Forest. Three big U.S. companies — American Electric Power, Chevron and GM — invested millions of dollars to protect 50,000 acres of land here. It’s a very 21st century idea: these companies don’t own the land or the trees. They own credit for the carbon stored in the trees, and someday, they hope to use it to cancel out some of their greenhouse gas pollution back home.

Sound of Green Police commander speaking

The team’s commander leads us through tall grasses and into the forest, where orchids grow wild and jaguars prowl. The Green Police are here to make sure that no one is cutting down trees. They’ve chased off land developers and poachers. But locals complain the green police are also targeting them.

Jonas da Silva: If I go there, I’ll be humiliated in front of my family, because I’ll be arrested. I’ll be called a thief.

That’s Jonas da Silva. He grew up on the reserve’s border. The subsistence farmer says now he can’t hunt or fish or even use the forest paths that the community has relied on for generations. Da Silva lives among some 10,000 farmers, fishermen and Indians who eke out a living from the land.

Sound of children singing

On a small island near the reserve, we meet up with Leonardo Wera Tupa. The Guarani tribal leader has watched with apprehension as American companies cordon off the land here, in the name of fighting climate change.

Leonardo Wera Tupa: When those lands end up in the hands of environmentalists who say they want to preserve them, it ends up limiting many things for the people around and the local population suffers.

Jutta Kill: It is denying them access to land that they have used for many generations and which they have maintained and preserved.

Jutta Kill of the British environmental group FERN has compiled extensive testimony from dozens of locals who complain about abuses by police and park rangers.

Kill: We heard of people being arrested, we heard of people having their produce confiscated and we heard of the increasing difficulty of sustaining families. And therefore, a number of families have also had to leave the area.

Kill says some people fled to Antonina. That’s a small town a few miles outside the reserve. Carlos Machado is Antonina’s mayor.

Carlos Machado: Directly or indirectly, it was through these conservation projects that the population came here and created a ring of poverty around our city. It’s caused a big social problem here.

Machado calls these displaced people “carbon refugees.” But environmental groups managing the reserve see it differently.

U.S. Nature Conservancy promotional video: Forests are the lungs of our planet.

In a promotional video, the U.S. Nature Conservancy, which brokered this deal, says its forest projects in Brazil are:

U.S. Nature Conservancy promotional video: Offering local communities economic alternatives that are compatible with forest protection.

Duncan Marsh directs international climate policy for the conservancy. He says the group’s work in the reserve has given the community dozens of new jobs with health benefits, where before there were virtually none.

Duncan Marsh: Most of those jobs are jobs with the full range of benefits, whereas a lot of these people were not necessarily employed in a full and fully compensated way prior to the existence of the project.

Marsh described retraining locals to sell things like organic bananas and honey. But the Nature Conservancy’s own manager in Brazil told us that most money for job programs ran out a couple years ago. Now, even some of the project’s own corporate backers concede that mistakes were made.

Mike Morris: I wasn’t there in the early go, but I would imagine that we came in as American companies frequently do, “Everybody get out of the way, we’re going to do this.”

That’s Mike Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, one of the country’s biggest utilities. Morris says he’s still excited about the idea of preserving forests to cancel out some of AEP’s greenhouse gas emissions, but he says moving forward the company will do things differently.

Morris: Our effort will be never to repeat those endeavors but to go in as a willing partner and participant, after conversations with the local folks and the governmental folks involved, to make certain there’s agreement with what we’re doing.

Climate legislation making its way fitfully through Congress now includes a provision to respect the rights of people who live off forest land. But it remains to be seen whether companies only pay lip service, or find a way to protect the forest’s people as fiercely as they do the trees.

With Mark Schapiro, I’m Michael Montgomery for Marketplace.

Moon: Our story was produced in collaboration with the PBS program Frontline/WORLD.


  • Comment | Refresh
  • By Olga Swarthout
    From Holly, MI, 02/27/2010

    These relatively small tribes of indiginous people have suffered throughout history like the American native Indians.
    In the 16th century they were victimized by European geo-political machinations that gave Brazil to the Portugese and the rest of S. America to Spain ( see the award winning 1980’s movie THE MISSION, starring Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson ). In the 20th century they were again disenfranchised by Brazil’s massive agricultural development. The government ultimately gave them safe haven deep in the high forests bordering Argentina. Today, even that land is not safe for the Indians.

    By Larry Tobos
    From MI, 02/26/2010

    Nothing new here: “civilized” people taking advantage and forcing “savages” to remain that way so we can have “big oil” enjoying the same old bonanza. Just appaled by the story, and you categorizing it as a “green” story. Sincerely,
    Laurentiu (Larry) Tobos

Conservation Groups & Corporate Cash: An Exchange

Johann Hari’s piece “The Wrong Kind of Green” takes mainstream environmental groups to task for selling out their principles, often in exchange for money from the worst polluters. Posing the question, “How do we retrieve a real environmental movement, in the very short time we have left?” Hari argues that we have no choice but to confront the movement’s addiction to corporate cash and its penchant for environmentally destructive political deal-making–even if doing so requires having a “difficult and ugly fight.” We invited a range of green groups mentioned in the article to respond to Hari’s arguments in this special online forum, which concludes with Hari’s reply. Readers may also be interested in the web letters written about the piece.   –The Editors

Christine Dorsey, National Wildlife Federation
Leah Hair, National Wildlife Federation
Phil Radford, Greenpeace
John Adams, Natural Resources Defense Council
Kieran Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity
Carl Pope, Sierra Club
Bill McKibben,
Karen Foerstel, The Nature Conservancy
Johann Hari, The Nation

National Wildlife Federation

Christine Dorsey

The Nation‘s cover story “The Wrong Kind of Green” is an irresponsible and toxic mixture of inaccurate information and uninformed analysis. The author, who did not contact the National Wildlife Federation for this story, has written a work of fiction that hardly merits a response, except that it stoops to a new low by attacking the reputation of the late Jay Hair, a former CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, whose powerful legacy of conservation achievement speaks for itself.

In case The Nation is interested in publishing facts, the National Wildlife Federation is funded primarily by the generous donations of 4 million members and supporters. Corporate partnerships for our educational work account for less than 1/2 of 1 percent of our funding. Our dedicated staff, volunteers and state affiliates fight tirelessly to take on polluters, protect wildlife habitat, promote clean energy and educate families about wildlife and the importance of spending time outdoors in nature.

What will The Nation do next, blame polar bears for global warming?

National Wildlife Federation

Leah Hair

In “The Wrong Kind of Green” Johann Hari made outrageous and entirely false statements about my late husband, Dr. Jay Hair.

Jay died in 2002 after a five-year battle with an incurable bone marrow cancer. He devoted his life, with all his considerable passion, courage and intelligence, to protecting this planet. Jay never betrayed that mission in order to “suck millions,” as the article claimed, from oil and gas companies. During Jay’s tenure as president of the National Wildlife Federation, corporate contributions never exceeded 1 percent of NWF’s budget.

In 1982 Jay established NWF’s Corporate Conservation Council to create a forum for dialogue with Fortune 500 leaders. Prior to this controversial initiative, almost the only place business and environmental leaders met was in court. Jay took considerable heat, but he understood that the enormity of our environmental challenges required that all sectors–private, governmental, NGO, religious–be involved and talking to one another.

The Council was funded solely by its members; NWF’s budget was not drawn upon to create the Council, nor did corporate money from the Council seep into NWF’s regular budget.

In 1989 the Exxon Valdez spilled 10 million gallons of Prudhoe crude. Jay was the first national environmental leader to go to Prince William Sound to draw attention to the social and environmental devastation. Under Jay’s leadership, NWF initiated the class action lawsuit against Exxon for punitive damages. He protested on the floor of the Exxon stockholders meeting. If Exxon or anyone else thought that Corporate Conservation Council membership bought them “reputation insurance,” per Mr. Hari, for “an oil spill that had caused irreparable damage,” they clearly were mistaken.

Jay was only 56 when he died. Had he lived, he would have continued to be a passionate and courageous voice on behalf of our imperiled planet.

Your sloppy reporting smeared the reputation of a fine man. You owe an apology.


Phil Radford, Executive Director

“The Wrong Kind of Green” points to three principles that could make environmental advocacy groups stronger and the world a safer place for our children. First, avoid the perceived or real conflicts of interest created by taking corporate money. Second, start with what must be done to save the environment, not with what we think we can eke out of an unfriendly Congress. Third, the way forward will be bottom-up, shutting and stopping coal plants. I couldn’t agree more.

For forty years, Greenpeace has maintained our financial independence, refusing money from corporations.

A few years ago, Greenpeace and our allies decided to stop deforestation in the Amazon by “convincing” the major industries driving the problem to cease and desist. We would then permanently lock up the forests by securing financing from rich countries. When we discovered that cattle ranching was one of the primary drivers of deforestation, Greenpeace activists throughout the United States and Europe nudged Nike and Timberland to cancel their contracts with leather company causing deforestation. A few cancelled contracts later; the major ranching companies agreed with Greenpeace Brazil to a moratorium on any ranching that causes deforestation.

It doesn’t matter if you work with companies or governments, as long as you are independent, start with the ecological goal, work globally with governments or companies to change the game, and ultimately bring your opponents to a place where they’ll lobby for your law or can’t withstand it.

It is difficult to imagine a way forward on global warming that gets at the root of the problem–coal, the number one cause of global warming pollution–without a plant-by-plant fight to shut down coal. Some have approached coal with an attitude of “if you cant beat them, join them.” The Sierra Club and Greenpeace have a different approach: “beat coal until they join us.”

Natural Resources Defense Council

John Adams, professor of political science, University of Pennsylvania

I read your article “The Wrong Kind of Green” and was disappointed with your comments about Jay Hair, now dead eight years. I have no knowledge of any contributions made from oil and gas to NWF, but what I do know is, Jay was a dedicated environmentalist, and to the best of my knowledge, he did not sell out on any issues. I find it very troubling that someone who cannot defend himself is made the center of this article without many facts backing up the charges.

Center for Biological Diversity

Kieran Suckling, Executive Director

Johann Hari’s article follows upon stories in the Washington Post and E&E which ask similar questions: Why do so many of the large U.S. environmental groups appear to take their lead on climate policy from Congress and the White House? Why do they appear to lack a bottom line on climate policy? He is puzzled by the quick endorsement of weak climate bills, lauding of the Obama administration’s regressive position at Copenhagen, and claims that Copenhagen was a success.

What motivates such positions is unclear. But this much is very clear: as a political strategy, such positioning has been a failure. Congress and the White House have taken progressively weaker positions since early drafts of Markey-Waxman. They are giving ground in the face of corporate opposition and see little reason to move towards environmental groups who have already endorsed weak positions and signaled that they will endorse even weaker positions.

Similarly, it was a strategic mistake to press Congress to pass comprehensive climate legislation by pitting it as the alternative to Clean Air Act regulation. The result of that strategy could be (and was) predicted from the outset: climate deniers would latch onto the sense that Clean Air Act regulation is a bad idea and climate supporters (such as Kerry) would feel they have cover to use the Clean Air Act as a bargaining chip to win conservative votes. We would not be looking at such vehement opposition to Clean Air Act and such confusion about its working in the media, had the larger environmental groups been clear from that the outset that the Clean Air Act is effective, should be used to its fullest to combat global warming, and that any new legislation must be additive to the Clean Air Act, not in opposition to it.

Climate and wildlife scientists have convincingly shown that we must reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions to 350 parts per million from our current level of 387 ppm if we are to avoid runaway global warming and the extinction of polar bears, corals and thousand of other species. The Center for Biological Diversity has joined with groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and to establish this as a bright line criteria for endorsement of any climate legislation, policy, or international agreement. It is not a negotiable position because the conditions which support life on Earth are not negotiable.

While pushing for new, comprehensive legislation, the Center believes it is imperative that we simultaneously use existing environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act to begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions now and updating land and wildlife management plans to ensure imperiled species are able to survive the level of global warming that is already locked in. We’ve had many successes in this arena and, as Hari describes, recently petitioned the EPA to scientifically determine the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases), just as it does for other criteria air pollutants. We believe that level is 350 parts per million or less.

Hari correctly describes the aggressive, public opposition to having EPA determine this safe level by a faction within the Sierra Club. Even worse, this faction tried to convince other environmental groups to support a congressional vote to prevent the EPA from determining the safe level of greenhouse gas pollution. The scientific determination of a clear greenhouse gas emission target is not in the interest of those who have endorsed vastly weaker targets.

The good news, however, is that the Sierra Club is a diverse and dynamic organization. Many of its leaders (including board members and chapters) are strongly in favor the Center and the’s petition to cap greenhouse gas emissions. I agree with Hari that recent changes in Sierra Club management are promising and look forward to working with the organization to fully use the power of science, the Clean Air Act, and new legislation to reduce carbon dioxide to 350 part per million. That is unquestionably the task of our generation.

The questions asked by Hari will continue to be posed by astute reporters, and will be asked with increasing urgency as endorsement are lined up for a very weak Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill which will seek to increase oil drilling, continue coal burning and allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase past irrevocable tipping points. Whether one agrees with Hari’s answers or not, his questions are critical for our time. As environmental leaders, we would do well to take them as opportunities for self-reflection rather than defensive dismissal.

You can find more information on the Center for Biological Diversity’s efforts to combat global warming here.

Sierra Club

Carl Pope, executive director

While thin on solutions Hari’s story was so plump with distortions of reality that it might have been written by Lewis Carroll.

Hari’s silliest innuendo is that the Sierra Club is somehow less than aggressive in the fight against coal power. Sierra Club members have blocked no less than 119 coal-fired power plants in recent years and the organization is regarded by friend and foe as the most successful force in the critical effort to scrap coal power. On February 10, even climate scientist James Hansen pulled on a Sierra Club T-shirt and participated in Sierra Student Coalition anticoal rally at the University of North Carolina–one of dozens of such rallies our young activists have held in support of Hansen’s number one anti-climate disruption goal–to move America beyond coal.

The author also offered the false and offensive analogy that Sierra Club’s cause-related marketing partnership with Clorox’s environmentally friendly cleaning products was like Amnesty International being funded by genocidal war criminals. The Sierra Club had ensured that these products met the Environmental Protection Agency’s most stringent standard, “Design for the Environment,” spending four months reviewing Green Works to ensure that it deserved this designation. In the two years since the partnership began, no one has cited any evidence that Green Works products do not meet the environmental claims made for them. They are, rather, helping to increase demand for green products in the marketplace.

Finally, while there are legitimate disagreements between lawyers about the best legal strategies for cutting carbon emissions, we have always supported the deepest emissions cuts in line with the science and need to convert to a new clean energy economy. This includes cuts endorsed by the Center for Biological Diversity, with whom we often join in litigation. Indeed, it was the Sierra Club that helped bring the original suit which led to the Supreme Court Decision that spurred EPA to begin regulating global warming pollution.

Bill McKibben, founder

Many thanks to Johann Hari for an interesting piece, and for the very kind words about our work. Those of us at aren’t so much an organization as a campaign, and as such we’ve always looked for allies everywhere. And we’ve managed to find them not only across the environmental spectrum but, just as importantly, from less likely places–churches and synagogues and mosques and temples, sports teams and theater troupes. When we organized our global day of action last October–which CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history”–it involved 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries. Around the world we worked easily and cooperatively with lots of big green groups as well as thousands of organizers from tiny local campaigns, and people who’d never done anything at all.

We were, sometimes, a little surprised at how hard it was to get buy-in to our campaign from some of the big American environmental groups. This piece might explain some of the reasons, but we’re not privy to their councils in those ways. Our guess is that history had something to do with it too–it’s worth remembering, as Hari points out, that these groups were set up and scaled to fight much smaller battles, doing the noble work of saving particular canyons or passing remediating laws. It’s a whole ‘nother level to try and take on fossil fuel, the center of the economy. Using the Sierra Club as an example, it should be noted that even if the front office didn’t like what we were doing, chapters all across America and around the world engaged with the 350 campaign in really great ways, helping pull off rallies and demonstrations. The same was true of many other groups. Which is good, because we’re a tiny outfit–a couple of dozen young people and one rapidly aging writer, spread out across a big planet. Immodestly speaking, we’re good at what we do, but not good enough to replace other organizations. Our real strength, of course, is the amazing volunteers who make the work happen everywhere–including places you’re not supposed to be able to do this work. If you check out the pictures at, one of the things you’ll be struck by is the fact that environmentalism is no longer something for rich white people. Most of our colleagues are black, brown, Asian, poor, young–because that’s who most of the world is.

One key battle that lies ahead for American groups is passing legislation to finally do something about our enormous contribution to the planet’s rapid warming: when we talk to our organizers in Addis Ababa or Beijing or Quito or pretty much everywhere in between, they say that American legislation is vital before anyone else will take real steps. Our movement-building history–beginning with the StepItUp campaign in 2007, which organized 1400 rallies in all fifty states–would indicate that it’s easier to try to rally people around bold and ambitious goals that would really safeguard our future. The lobbying in DC will go more easily if there’s a real movement around the country making senators feel at least a little inclined towards action, and that movement can only be built behind legislation that would truly change the system.

Copenhagen was a very serious drag–still, it was wonderful to see 117 nations endorsing the 350 target. True, they were the poorer and more vulnerable nations; we’ve still got persuade the real fossil fuel addicts. But the good news is everyone gets another chance to help out, all over the world. Working in collaboration with our UK friends at the 10:10 movement, we’ve set October 10 as the date for a global-scale Work Party, with people across the planet putting up solar panels and insulating houses, all with a 350 theme. The point is not that we’re going to solve climate change one house or solar panel at a time–unfortunately, that’s not mathematically possible. But we can use the occasion to send a distinctly political message to our leaders: we’re doing our work, why aren’t you? If we can get up on the roof of the school with hammers, surely you can find the strength to do your work in the Senate, or the General Assembly. If leaders simply won’t lead, then we’ll have to lead for them. We hope everyone will join in, from big groups and small. Working together is fun and empowering, or so we’ve found.

The Nature Conservancy

Karen Foerstel, director, climate media relations

The article “The Wrong Kind of Green” offers readers in inaccurate and incomplete picture of the role deforestation plays in climate change and the way in which environmental and conservation organizations are fighting for policies to address global warming. For the full story, visit

The Nation

Johann Hari, reporter

It is simply a fact that Jay Hair kick-started the process of environmental groups partnering with and taking money from the world’s worst polluters. It is also a fact that this process has been taken much further by other groups like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, and has ended with their missions becoming deeply corrupted, in ways I described in great detail in my article. This account of what has happened is not just my view–it’s the view of America’s most distinguished climate scientist, Professor James Hansen, the whistler-blower Christine MacDonald, and of virtually all the environmental groups that don’t take money from polluters.

I am perfectly prepared to accept that Hair was a fine person in his personal life and had some positive motives. Of course his early death is tragic. But many people who have made harmful misjudgments have also had some some admirable achievements in their lives. In public debate, we have to be able to expose the harm they did and show how it continues, or we cannot make sense of the world and prevent even more harm. Is John Adams seriously suggesting that since the dead cannot answer us, we should hold back in our criticism of their actions? How could any serious discussion of how the world came to be as it is take place under such an omertà?

The apology Leah Hair demands is in fact due from the “green” groups who have chosen to take polluter cash and have betrayed their own mission. If she wishes to preserve the best of her husband’s legacy rather than the worst, she should direct her anger at them–rather than at journalists honestly describing how this corruption began.

Rather than engage with the serious issues I raised, Carl Pope sadly plays the old politician’s trick of denying charges I did not make. Where did I say the Sierra Club doesn’t oppose coal? Nowhere. In fact, I did the opposite, writing that “there is an inspiring grassroots movement against coal power plants in the United States, supported by the Sierra Club.”

I went on to describe some plain facts–that under his leadership, the Sierra Club vehemently opposed a lawsuit to force the US government’s policies into line with climate science by returning us to 350ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pope doesn’t even try to justify this in his response, even though it was the most serious criticism of the club in my article.

The Center for Biological Diversity describes this behavior accurately as throwing “climate science out the window,” and Jim Hansen–the very man Pope waves as a papal authority–describes it as “shocking” and “abominable.” So, yes, the Sierra Club opposes coal in many places and at many times–but it is a matter of record that when there was a lawsuit to ensure the dramatic scale- back we need to preserve a safe climate, they lined up with former Bush administration members to mock and condemn it. I would like to hear Pope offer a serious explanation, rather than name-calling about Lewis Carroll.

Pope also gives an account of the Clorox scandal that is contradicted by his own staff. As Christine MacDonald exposes in her book Green, Inc., the company approached Pope and said they would give the Sierra Club a cut of their profits if they could use the club’s logo and brand on their new range of cleaning products. MacDonald reports that Pope gave the go-ahead without making a rigorous effort to check they were genuinely more green than their competitors. The club’s own toxics committee co-chair, Jessica Frohman, was very clear about this, saying: “We never approved the product line.”

It is a disturbing example of how corporate cash has perverted the behavior of even as admirable a green group as the Sierra Club–and may be the reason why Pope is being replaced with a leader from the more serious and science-based wing of the environmental movement. Its members certainly deserve better than this.

If there are so many “inaccuracies” in my description of TNC, why can’t they name a single one? Do they think the banal propaganda they link to is an answer?

Yet this is not the only glaring hole in these responses (apart, of course, from the arguments of Greenpeace, who refuses polluter cash). Do none of these people feel any concern that the leading environmental groups in America are hoovering up cash from the worst polluters and advocating policies that fall far short of what scientists say we need to safely survive the climate crisis? Do they really think there is nothing to discuss here?

· Slide Show: The Wrong Kind of Green

“Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1°C. [above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust. The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”

Evo Morales, December 16th, 2010, Copenhagen Climate Summit


EDITORIAL: Earth Hour, corporate sponsors and burning planets

14 March 2010

“Earth Hour” will be held around the world on March 27. The event is organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and involves participants switching off their lights for the hour as a symbolic declaration of support for environmental action.

The Earth Hour website is sponsored by, among others, Woolworths Limited, the giant supermarket and retail corporation. With the amount of waste and pollution associated with the retail industry in frivolous consumption, built-in obsolescence and so on, this would seem an odd choice for sponsor.

WWF has a shocking record for quite uncritically accepting sponsorship from polluting industries. Back in 2002, Counterpunch co-editor Jeffrey St. Clair exposed WWF’s links with logging corporation Weyerhaeuser, writing on that WWF “rakes in millions from corporations, including Alcoa, Citigroup, the Bank of America, Kodak, J.P. Morgan, the Bank of Tokyo, Philip Morris, Waste Management and DuPont”.

In November 2009, more than 80 environmental organisations from 31 countries signed a letter attacking WWF’s founding role in the “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil”. The letter said: “WWF’s involvement is being used by agrofuel companies to justify building more refineries and more palm oil power stations in Europe.”

The palm oil industry is a leading cause of destruction of tropical rainforests.
Currently, WWF is one of the key “environment” organisations in Australia promoting “clean coal”. This hypothetical technology is the main prop in the Australian coal industry’s smoke-and-mirrors trickery to keep the public off its back.

Clearly, WWF is a willing aide to corporate polluters who want to be seen to be cleaning up their act. How much does the environment get back? Whatever WWF ekes out for payment in its bargaining with the devil, it isn’t working for the environment.

The Earth Hour website includes a link to a calculator where visitors can work out their own personal carbon footprint. If you follow links for what you can do after the event to “make Earth Hour every hour” you will be directed toward various governmental awareness raising schemes and green power providers.

If the event simply raised people’s awareness a little, it would be better than nothing. But sometimes “not enough” is worse than nothing: it’s a false hope. The direct links to our climate-criminal government, as much as any donations from polluting corporations, are like telling people to go back to sleep, not to get up, when the house is burning down.

Although individuals will gain positive feelings from participating in Earth Hour, climate activists have to channel popular concern about climate change into rebellion, not tokenism. Or our whole planet will burn down around us.

Grass-Roots Organizer Jumps From Nature Conservancy to American Petroleum Institute – API

Spooner, 42, doesn’t see the move from Nature Conservancy to API as that big of a jump…. “At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily believe that the views of [the Nature Conservancy] and API are incompatible,” Spooner added.

February 26, 2010

Grass-Roots Organizer Jumps From Nature Conservancy to API

By ANNE C. MULKERN of Greenwire

The oil industry’s biggest trade group has nabbed one of the environmental community’s top grass-roots organizers as it ramps up efforts to build a network of citizen lobbyists.

Deryck Spooner, who ran Nature Conservancy’s push to spur legislative action on climate change, will now head American Petroleum Institute’s grass-roots activism arm. The hiring move sends a nervous flutter through environmental groups. By recruiting Spooner, green groups said, API adds someone with both credibility and deep knowledge of grass-roots strategy. Spooner previously ran campaigns for labor group AFL-CIO and abortion rights organization NARAL.

“He’s a big dog,” said Tyson Slocum, energy program director at watchdog group Public Citizen. “It gives API somebody with enormous grass-roots experience running major campaigns. This indicates that API is taking their grass-roots strategy in a very serious direction.”

The move comes two months after the trade group cut 15 percent of its staff and President Jack Gerard said API had “not been as effective as we could be in educating public officials or the public about the critical role of oil and gas in our economy. … You will see us evolve into a more nimble, more aggressive” organization. “We’re going to be aggressive in our outreach to educate the public,” he said (E&ENews PM, Dec. 11, 2009).

Hiring Spooner is part of Gerard’s strategy to expand grass-roots activism, API spokeswoman Cathy Landry said, adding, “Jack’s vision is to mobilize the 9.2 million people whose jobs rely on the oil and gas industry. We do plan to step that up.”

API’s community activism last year sparked controversy, as environmental critics accused the trade group of steering employees to rallies aimed at killing climate legislation. API said the rallies allowed both employees and other citizens to voice concerns that climate legislation would raise energy prices and affect jobs.

Spooner, 42, doesn’t see the move from Nature Conservancy to API as that big of a jump.

“I have worked for vastly different organizations throughout my career,” Spooner said. “The bottom line is it’s all about advocacy, that’s what I’m passionate about. Mobilizing and organizing people to influence the public process and public policy is what I truly love to do.”

“At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily believe that the views of [the Nature Conservancy] and API are incompatible,” Spooner added. API members use technology “to ensure that the places that they drill are not impacted,” Spooner said, while the Nature Conservancy uses a scientific approach in deciding where to protect land and water. API members, he said, “don’t just want to drill anywhere for drilling’s sake. There’s a lot of science going into where they drill.”

The Nature Conservancy’s director of U.S. climate policy, Eric Haxthausen, said in an e-mail that Spooner “left the Nature Conservancy on good terms and we wish him well.” Haxthausen did not respond to a question about whether the goals of the Nature Conservancy conflict with those of API. Nature Conservancy, which in terms of assets is the biggest environmental group in the United States, is considered one of the more politically conservative green groups. It allows corporate sponsorships and has permitted oil and gas drilling on some of the land it holds in trust.

Other environmental activists, however, characterized the missions of API and most green groups as far apart.

“There’s no useful contribution that the American Petroleum Institute is making to forwarding our energy economy,” said Kert Davies, research director for Greenpeace. “They’ve been at the center of campaigns to derail climate progress for 20 years.”

Ramping up grass-roots efforts with Spooner shows API believes that’s what’s necessary to achieve its goals, he said.

“They know that ultimately it’s going to come down to a grass-roots toe-to-toe battle on energy policy,” Davies said. And having Spooner at API gives the oil trade group new advantages, he said, including information about environmental group strategies.

“That’s a little unnerving,” Davis said. “That’s not something that we really want to take place.”

Spooner isn’t saying what he has planned for API just yet, but in an e-mailed biography, he described his role as coordinating API’s “efforts to develop, mobilize and sustain a political infrastructure of individuals, groups, and coalitions to advance API’s priority advocacy issues with elected officials.” He also said he knows “how to build relationships with influential individuals, and what it takes to win the support of policy makers and opinion leaders of public policy goals.”

He jumped to API in part, Spooner said, because Gerard is committed to political advocacy. Because Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, Spooner said, he was limited in how much he could engage political activism. He worked mostly with local chapters and guided trustees to seek legislative action. At API, he said, he can create a grass-roots network of employees, contractors and the public.

With his campaign experience, Slocum said, Spooner is likely to help API prioritize members of Congress the group wants to influence, and then mobilize activism in those lawmakers’ districts and states.

“I would imagine with everything that’s at stake, they’re going to have a multiyear strategy,” Slocum said. “It’s a much more surgical strike than just running ads on TV.”

Oil worker’s son

Spooner learned activism early, growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, where as a child he attended many rallies with his parents and grandfather.

“It takes the process of voting and engagement to another level,” Spooner said. “That’s where I got a lot of my passion.”

He’s also the son of an engineer who worked for Amoco, an oil company that later became part of BP PLC. Spooner went out to oil rigs with his father.

“It’s part of who I am, too,” Spooner said.

Spooner worked for NARAL and then AFL-CIO, where he ran the campaigns for candidates the groups had decided to back, as well as helped mobilize voters who would support those candidates. While in his role at NARAL in 2002, Spooner made $500 in campaign contributions to the Friends of Al Gore’s political action committee.

He moved to Nature Conservancy in 2007 and focused on global warming, which Spooner described as “one of the most important issues of our time.”

He doesn’t see his position at API as abandoning that principle.

“Engaging many voices in the solution to climate change is the only way to guarantee success,” Spooner said. “Coming to API gives me the opportunity to further that conversation.”

Spooner pointed to U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition pushing for congressional action on climate change, as an example of a group that united environmental groups and oil companies including BP and ConocoPhillips. BP and ConocoPhillips left U.S. CAP last week, however, saying that climate legislation has failed to recognize the importance of natural gas and disadvantaged oil and gas companies compared with coal interests.

“What you had was a really good conversation there because you had both businesses and environmental groups working together,” Spooner said. “What happened is that the issue got politicized. But I think again once you bring as many voices into the solution and everyone has opportunity to be equal in the discussion … then you’ll have the opportunity to take the issue to another level.”

While Davies with Greenpeace called API a roadblock to good climate policy, Spooner rejected that the trade group worked to keep climate legislation from moving forward.

“How is that possible when you have members of API being on U.S. CAP?” Spooner said. “The principles U.S. CAP came up with [were] the principles that were adopted by Congress at some level.” (The House-passed climate bill largely used a blueprint from U.S. CAP.)

When asked about API’s opposition to major elements of climate legislation, Spooner said that “what you have is a very diverse organization here with multiple different issues. API is an association that … sort of helps wade through those multiple different issues. What API wants is a really good climate bill at the end of the day,” Spooner added.

More ‘Energy Citizens’?

While Spooner is still evaluating the best ways to motivate grass-roots action on API’s goals, he said that his central principle is education.

“You’ve got to make people feel they are part of something,” Spooner said. “When you look at what’s going on right now in America, energy security is one of the biggest things.” He cited API’s statistics that oil and gas companies are tied to 7.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 9.2 million American jobs.

“It’s a real good opportunity to have a conversation, a dialogue with Americans and move them to the next level to decide to put pressure on public policy,” Spooner said, adding “How do I do it? Have a conversation.”

API last summer belonged to a coalition that organized and ran a grass-roots effort called Energy Citizens. It followed passage of the House climate bill and featured those rallies where oil company workers and other people came to talk about their concerns. FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform also belonged to the coalition behind the campaign.

“That will be something Deryck will be looking at in the future,” Landry said, adding, “that will be one of the things in his portfolio.”

Environmental groups criticized Energy Citizens as fake grass roots, or “AstroTurf.” Most of the rallies were organized by registered lobbyists working on behalf of API and other energy interests (E&ENews PM, Aug. 21, 2009). API has said that the rallies represented the views of much of the public regardless of who served as organizers.

The mission of Energy Citizens last summer was to stop momentum on the climate bill that passed the House in June, Greenpeace’s Davies said.

Spooner sees the goal of such rallies differently.

“When you look at Energy Citizens, it’s a coalition of Americans. We have real voices that really care about the energy issue,” Spooner said. “To call it AstroTurf, that’s again, politicizing it. These are real people; these are real Americans who really care about the issue.”

Copyright 2010 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

For more news on energy and the environment, visit .

Our Response to TckTckTck (Now Known as GCCA) & all Partners – March 1st, 2010

Update – Shortly after we sent this out to the GCCA list (on March 1st, 2010) – the  partner link to ”The Corporate Leader Group on Climate Change’ was removed from the website.  The screenshot, showing the partner listed in the site can be found below.  This does not mean that the partnership no longer exists – simply that the partnership is no longer shown on the website.

As of March 14th, 2010 – we have received no correspondence that would indicate this partnership between ‘The Corporate Leader Group on Climate Change’ and has been terminated.

From: Canadians for Action on Climate Change []
Sent: March-01-10 9:29 AM
To: ‘'; ‘Ben Margolis'; ‘Kelly Rigg’
Cc: ‘Global Compliance’
Subject:RE: Response; relevant information for partners of tcktcktck

Dear Ben,

Given that you have indicated in your message received this morning that you will not be fulfilling the previous commitment to share our response with partners, as indicated in to your letter written to us on February 25th, 2010; “We will also send this note to our partners and may wish to share with them any response you send to us.”, we have undertaken to share our response with your partners.  Our response will be sent in its original form (found below your response from this morning – sent to you on the 26th).


Cory Morningstar

Joan Russow

—–Original Message—–
From: Ben Margolis []
Sent: March-01-10 6:20 AM
To: Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Cc: Kelly Rigg
Subject: Re: Response

Dear Cory Morningstar,

Thank you for your comments. Every GCCA partner was provided with information when they asked to join the coalition including our call to action and campaign asks, and were asked to provide us with a logo

and URL to be listed on our web site. Over 250 organizations have chosen to do this, and currently many more are looking to join.

We are in regular contact with all of our partners, and if any of them raises concerns about our policy demands, or other aspects of our collaborative work, we will discuss this with them directly.


Ben Margolis

From: Canadians for Action on Climate Change []
Sent: February-26-10 9:01 PM
To: ‘Ben Margolis’
Cc: ‘’

Dear – GCCA,

We appreciate your agreeing to circulate our response. We reply as follows;

Tcktcktck monopolizing the dialogue at COP15 and undermining COP15

At COP15 the campaign monopolized the NGO response to climate change, and either intentionally or unintentionally, undermined other NGOs, and the developing countries that were demanding more., through its listing of NGOs as partners, some of which now claim they had never agreed to be listed as partners, gave a skewed sense of support for the weak demands of the campaign. The dominance, either intentionally or unintentionally, eviscerated NGO activism and consequently influenced the weak outcome of COP15. Whether it was intentional or unintentional, the organizers of the campaign were grossly negligent.


AT COP15, one of the major demands of the developing states was to call upon the developed states to both commit to strong reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and to stabilize the rise in temperature. Many developing states called for the rise in temperature to be well below 1.5°C, and a number of developing states were calling for the temperature to not exceed 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Furthermore, most developing states called for the ppm to return to below 350ppm, and a number of developing states called for ppm to 300ppm. The campaign that dominated the discussion was completely out of sync with the strong demands of most developing states.

On the website, there was a list of over 200 NGOs who were described as partners. A survey was initiated (ANNEX-attached in word) and sent to some of the NGO partners. The purpose of the survey was to determine whether the partners were aware of the campaign’s corporate connections, and whether the partners were also aware of the inadequate targets advanced by the campaign. In the survey, it was pointed out that had failed to use a baseline when they called for developed states to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020. The spokesperson for, Ben Margolis, Campaign Director for ‘Global Campaign for Climate Action’ wrote a letter to the authors of the survey and acknowledged the following;

“You also note that the policy positions stated on the web site failed to mention a baseline year for emissions reductions. We would like to thank you for pointing out this omission. There has always been an implicit recognition that we were referring to 1990 levels (as can be seen in the more detailed publications of our partner organizations). We have now amended the clause explicitly to read reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020.”

The spokesperson for now intimates that the listed partner NGOs and the global community should have been able to understand that, even though 1990 was left out, it was meant to be included. However, the question remains, how could over 200 NGOs listed on the website have agreed to exclude the 1990 baseline, because everyone was supposed to know that it was understood [even though the US was using 2005, and Canada was using 2006 as baselines].  Or, was a baseline excluded without the knowledge and consent of the partners, and thus, were they unaware of the absence of a baseline? Even worse, were the partners aware and complicit in omitting the baseline?  Were the partners involved in building a consensus of necessary targets based on the current science, or was the omission of the baseline decided on their behalf?  It seems unbelievable that all NGOs partners listed on the website would have been supportive of such weak demands.

Furthermore, on the site it states;

“TckTckTck is an unprecedented global alliance, representing hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life, who are united by a desire to see a strong global deal on climate change.”


Surely the leaders of a campaign which presents itself as representing hundreds of millions of people, and which thereby also sees itself as speaking for hundreds of millions of people must recognize the incredible responsibility such a statement implies. In assuming their self-appointed role, the leaders of demonstrated dereliction of duty in not advancing the targets necessary to ensure survival; the moral imperative to demand that the temperature not exceed 1°C.

Corporate Ties

In your response, you did not indicate whether the NGO partners of were made aware that they would be promoting a logo which was copywritten by PR firms Havas and Euro and, if the NGOs were made aware of the implications of being associated with PR firm clients such as those in the nuclear, biotech, biofuel, oil, etc. industries.


We still have grave concerns about the campaign / campaigns, as now being presented under the parent coalition name, the GCCA, and the Global Humanitarian Forum.  We would like to, at this time, direct your attention to the following items below. The items refer to The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change – presently listed on your website as a partner.


The attachments are as follows; if you open them in the order as they appear below, you can follow the links as they appear on the website;

A way forward

To rectify the irreversible damage caused by the undermining of the strong resolve of many NGOs and developing states to seriously maintain the rise in temperature below 1°C and the ppm to return to 300 ppm, the campaign must apologize to the partner NGOs that may not have wished to be listed as partners, or may not have wished to be associated with weak demands.


Cory Morningstar | Canadians for Action on Climate Change
Joan Russow – PhD | | Global Compliance Research Project

“Our objective is to save humanity and not just half of humanity. We are here to save mother earth. Our objective is to reduce climate change to [under] 1°C. [above this] many islands will disappear and Africa will suffer a holocaust. The real cause of climate change is the capitalist system. If we want to save the earth then we must end that economic model. Capitalism wants to address climate change with carbon markets. We denounce those markets and the countries which [promote them]. It’s time to stop making money from the disgrace that they have perpetrated.”

Evo Morales, December 16th, 2010, Copenhagen Climate Summit

See all signatories here:


The survey we sent to many TckTckTck partners:

To partners and allies of the TckTckTck Campaign

We do apologize for the mess, we are currently undergoing some necessary maintenance. Our articles and information will still be available though not as you would normally expect it to look. Thank you for your patience and have a wonderful day.