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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Greenpeace goes for new approach
Green APTN
Greenpeace put pressure on Sydney 2000 sponsors
By environment correspondent Alex Kirby

Greenpeace, for years a byword for head-on confrontation with suspected environmental wrongdoers, is throwing its resources into trying instead to find some answers.

It is to set up a unit to search for environmental solutions and innovations "to assist in the development of sustainable technologies".

But the organisation insists that the new unit will simply "extend" an area of work that began almost a decade ago. And it says that direct action will remain "the core part" of its campaigning.

The announcement was made by the executive director of Greenpeace International, Dr Thilo Bode, at a news conference launching its annual report.

Supporter base

Dr Bode said: "Our recent work devising the environmental guidelines for the Sydney 2000 Olympics makes it clear solutions form a key part in our campaigning.

Bode APTN
Dr Thilo Bode says the new unit will not take away from the direct action work of Greenpeace
"We have encouraged, but also directly challenged and protested to make sure its sponsors meet the 'green' standards they agreed.

"Persuading one of the leading Olympic sponsors, Coca-Cola, to replace their ozone-depleting and global warming refrigerants with Greenfreeze technology in their worldwide operations shows the impact Greenpeace can have in this area."

Greenfreeze, developed by Greenpeace, uses hydrocarbon gases like propane, not the HCFCs and HFCs developed to replace ozone-damaging CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). The replacements contribute to climate change.

Dr Bode said Greenpeace's net income - total income less fundraising expenditure - had risen in 1999 for the fifth year in succession, to 96.4 million Euros, 8% up on 1998.

The report also shows that the organisation's supporters grew by 100,000 from 1998, to 2.5m. This is the first rise recorded for some years, and follows a decline from 3m supporters in 1995 to 2.4m in 1998. Greenpeace says the decline was "largely due to changes in the methods of calculating the supporter base which were introduced in 1996".

Solutions and innovations unit

The report details work in the main areas of Greenpeace's concerns - climate change, the world's oceans, its forests, toxic substances, nuclear power, and genetic engineering.


I'm not a Greenpeace member, though I expect I'll join now

Harry Lehmann
The solutions and innovations unit is to be headed by Harry Lehmann, a system analyst and physicist who was formerly director of the Wuppertal Institute in Germany.

Mr Lehmann told BBC News Online: "We have a lot of ideas for the new unit coming in from the campaigns.

"We may do more work on the Greenfreeze technology, and we'll probably be looking at desalination, sustainable transport systems, and renewable energy, for a start. Our direct budget is 400,000 Euros, and there'll be other associated costs.

"I'm not a Greenpeace member, though I expect I'll join now. I see the unit as a way of building on the success that Greenpeace has achieved with its direct action over the years."

Products and profits

The annual report spells out Greenpeace's belief that there must be a change in the way both governments and businesses use science and technology.

Stadium APTN
Greenpeace says the Olympic organisers have taken up many of its ideas
Governments, says Greenpeace, cannot assume that science is an independent and objective process when so much funding for research is generated by industries "seeking to turn knowledge into products and profits".

"Nor can industry usurp the necessary democratic discussions about what scientific and technological developments are desirable, and what are not."

Greenpeace may well attract support for its argument that scientific policy-making should be more democratic. But its increasingly vociferous critics argue that the organisation's own record means it has little science to contribute.

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