Greenpeace’s Executive Director replies (sort of) to my post on why they’re part of the problem on global climate policy

by | Aug 1, 2012


Last week, I published a post here arguing that Greenpeace is (and has been for a long time) part of the problem on global climate policy – in a nutshell, because the organisation has for years and years ducked the twin issues of a global carbon budget, and the need for fair shares within it.

Greenpeace International’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, has now come back to me on Twitter with a reply. He says,

@alexevansuk Incorrect that GP hasn’t promoted carbon budgets. See NGO Treaty from 2009.

Which kind of begs the rejoinder: If Greenpeace is such a big advocate for the idea of carbon budgets, how come it hasn’t mentioned carbon budgets since 2009 (and never, as far as I can tell, in any of its own reports)? How come the Greenpeace International web page on “Climate Solutions” makes no reference whatsoever to the idea of a global carbon budget? And does Kumi Naidoo’s reply mean that they’ll be correcting that small oversight forthwith – and if not, why not?

More fundamentally, why is it that the report that Kumi Naidoo linked to in his tweet says nothing about the idea of fair shares to a global carbon budget?

If that’s all Kumi Naidoo has to say in reply, then it just proves the point that Greenpeace doesn’t get it about equity and carbon budgets. When Greenpeace talks about a carbon budget, it doesn’t talk about fair shares to it. When it talks about equity, it doesn’t talk about carbon budgets. It either doesn’t understand or – I would argue – doesn’t want to face up to the fact that that talk of carbon budgets and equity is simply meaningless unless you connect the dots between the two.

A carbon budget is just a concept until you actually share it out between all of the word’s countries. And equity is just a nice idea unless you’re talking about what it means in the context of fair entitlements to the space within global environmental limits.

I’m still hoping for a serious reply from Kumi Naidoo, in particular to my argument that Greenpeace’s silence about the issue of fair shares to a global carbon budget amounts to complicity in a 21st century form of enclosure (see the end of my original post). This wasn’t it.

Author

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.


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