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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Sunday, 14 March 2010

Kumi Naidoo interviewed by Andrew Marr

On Sunday 14 March Andrew Marr interviewed Chief Executive, Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo.

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Kumi Naidoo on The Andrew Marr Show

ANDREW MARR:

It's 25 years since the sinking of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour. The attack by French secret service agents claimed one life and caused international outrage. And over the years Greenpeace has become one of the most influential campaigning organisations in the world. It uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals, and steers clear of funding from governments. The new Worldwide Head of Greenpeace is Kumi Naidoo, the first African to hold the post. Welcome Mr Naidoo. Thank you for coming in.

KUMI NAIDOO:

Thank you.

ANDREW MARR:

You have a background in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and I suppose the first thing to ask is whether under your leadership Greenpeace is going to continue the same sort of pushing the boundaries, direct action, civil disobedience kind of tactics that it's used in the past?

KUMI NAIDOO:

Well in some ways we'll probably intensify it because all the science is telling us that time is running out for this planet, and history has shown us that you know when we face civil rights injustices - the US slavery, anti-apartheid and so on - it's only when decent men and women are willing to stand up, put their lives on the line and take strong, vibrant action that the agenda can move forward.

ANDREW MARR:

Which includes breaking the law in lots of countries. Does that concern you?

KUMI NAIDOO:

Well Mahatma Gandhi broke the law, Martin Luther King broke the law, Nelson Mandela broke the law. All of these people are revered now. So sometimes it is necessary to get a message across when we are in a context where our children and grandchildren's lives are under threat.

ANDREW MARR:

Even when that involves violence against property, for instance?

KUMI NAIDOO:

No, no, Greenpeace, as our name suggests …

ANDREW MARR:

Is peaceful.

KUMI NAIDOO:

… is peaceful, and so we're deeply committed to peace. But within a peaceful framework, we will take you know civil disobedience and passive resistance as a key strategy.

ANDREW MARR:

Now you said that time is running out for the planet, but the mistakes, the errors in the international climate change report, the IPCC report on glaciers, on the future for agriculture in Africa, on ocean levels and so on were quite serious ones and they seem to have really knocked confidence in the science around the world, and I wonder whether you see the effects of that as a campaigning organisation?

KUMI NAIDOO:

Well we've seen it in one or two places. It is of concern to us. What we find really troubling is that those scientists in IPCC expect to be 100% correct. Those that are the climate denialists, they have to be zero point, zero one percent. They find a tiny fault and amplify it. I mean for me, this is a sense of deja vu. Coming from South Africa, our political leadership in South Africa denied HIV Aids link … HIV and Aids being linked because a small dissident number of scientists actually said to the country as a result we lost and continue to lose thousands and thousands of lives. I think that you know right now, we have to recognise that what has been highlighted has only been when the IPCC and over-exaggerated in very minor ways really. But there's also things that the IPCC has got slightly wrong where they …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Quite a …

KUMI NAIDOO:

… where they've under-exaggerated - you know where in fact things have turned out to be much more serious than what was in the last report, but we don't see the same kind of you know focus on that.

ANDREW MARR:

Is the focus on climate change, the overall focus on climate change undermining or pushing to one side traditional Greenpeace concerns? I'm thinking of the whaling campaigns and I'm thinking about the concerns for endangered species, species about to become extinct - not least of course in Africa.

KUMI NAIDOO:

Not really actually because you see if you take one of our programmes, which is defending our and protecting our forests and defending our oceans, today what's interesting is that people might have been interested in protecting the forests in the past purely from a biodiversity, from an environmental perspective. Today when we look at the issue like defending our forests, for example, we can see that actually forests are linked fundamentally as a solution to climate change. Right now we have two of our activists on trial in Tokyo. I have just been there last month.

ANDREW MARR:

For the whaling campaign?

KUMI NAIDOO:

For the whaling campaign, because they exposed mass-scale corruption and theft in the so-called research whaling industry. So we will continue to maintain our involvement in defending all forms of life on this planet, but to do that effectively we have to address in quite an ambitious way the struggle against catastrophic climate change.

ANDREW MARR:

What about the perception that the news on climate change and on extinction, man's effect on the planet is so bad that millions and millions of people don't really want to focus on it? It's just … It's all bad news. You pick up the papers; it's more bad news. And I think all round the world people flinch from it and say they don't want to, don't want to confront it. And that's a problem for people like you, isn't it?

KUMI NAIDOO:

Yeah no, it is a challenge, but it's a challenge that we can rise up to. Because in climate change, you know when we look at it, it's also a huge opportunity for us to do things differently. We can turn this crisis into an opportunity by creating a new generation of jobs; decent, sustainable jobs. You know if you take the UK, for example, the UK has the largest potential in wind energy. Sadly it doesn't have much in solar energy compared to Europe and it's not being understood. So we have to communicate now that actually in addressing the challenge of climate change, there is also the possibility of jobs, and jobs then having a knock-on positive effect in terms of economic development as well.

ANDREW MARR:

A final thought on Zimbabwe. You went on hunger strike for a long time - three weeks, I think - to raise the issue of what's going on in Zimbabwe. It's still looking pretty grim there, isn't it?

KUMI NAIDOO:

Sadly it is and we need much more urgent intervention by the part of African leaders. I think we have …

ANDREW MARR:

Including South Africa, above all.

KUMI NAIDOO:

Yuh. I mean you know the hunger strike and the campaign that we ran and the support of Archbishop Tutu and Graca Machel and so on was actually more aimed at my own government in South Africa to change its position because when I was in Zimbabwe at Christmas, asking people you know what we should do, people said "go home and tell your government to stop acting like a condom to Robert Mugabe."

ANDREW MARR:

Ah!

KUMI NAIDOO:

And you know the idea of the hunger strike and so on came from those kinds of comments.

ANDREW MARR:

Well Kumi Naidoo, we'll be hearing a lot more from you, I have no doubt. But thank you very much indeed for coming in this morning.

KUMI NAIDOO:

Thank you for having me.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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