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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]

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Business Insider

July 4, 2014

by Mike Nudelman

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“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.

 

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YouTube

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.”

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Greenpeace

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.

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YouTube

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

NaoAoCapitalismoVerde

 

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)

quotha.net

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.

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Clean Water Action

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Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs

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Green Energy Future

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

 

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Massachusetts logging for biomass

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Michigan trees chipped for biomass

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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.

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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:

 

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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:

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Cadillac, Michigan biomass plant
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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.

 

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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 www.biofuelwatch.org.uk or to Partnership for Policy Integrity or this article I wrote.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 6TH, 2012, ELECTION DAY:

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

05/29/2012

By Jens Glüsing and Nils Klawitter

Spiegel

“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.”

AFP

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.

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Join and follow the End Old Forest Logging campaign at http://facebook.com/ecointernet

 

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

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 350.org/1Sky/Tar 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 350.org/1Sky, 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.

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2011/11/23/wwf-denies-palm-oil-is-the-problem-then-counts-the-cash/

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

Interview with WWF doc maker in English:

http://www.toxicsoy.org/toxicsoy/news/Artikelen/2011/7/1_Interview_with_WWF_doc_maker_in_English.html

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.

http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/13305-shock-documentary-wwf-and-industry-the-pact-with-the-panda?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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 sueddeutsche.de, 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] sueddeutsche.de
22 June 2011
[German original: http://bit.ly/SZPandaPakt]

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 (sueddeutsche.de), 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 sueddeutsche.de, 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 sueddeutsche.de 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 © sueddeutsche.de GmbH / Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH

Notes
1. This article was posted on the homepage of sueddeutsche.de 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 http://bit.ly/ARDPandaPakt

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