Greenpeace prepares for clash with oil giants

Pressure group will concentrate its firepower on climate change, the oil industry

Greenpeace is preparing for a full-scale battle with the world's fossil fuel interests, the international campaigning group indicated on Friday as it unveiled its 1996 annual report and results.

Climate change will be a central campaign theme for Greenpeace, said international campaigns director John Hincke. The group's ultimate objective is to secure a global agreement to leave three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

It is difficult to underestimate the scale of the challenge being taken on. Fossil fuels account for three-quarters of the world's primary energy and are a principal motor of economic growth and political power.

Mr Hincke conceded the point yesterday in an interview with ENDS Daily, but vowed to press on. "Public relations companies tell us that [the campaign] isn't possible," he said. "The only reason we don't throw in the towel is that it is essential."

The foundations for the strategy are currently being laid. "At this point we are getting a good handle on global fossil fuel deposits and company plans in order to exploit these", said Mr Hincke.

But campaigning is already underway - the group recently launched efforts to prevent any new oil exploration in the "frontier" area of the north-east Atlantic Ocean (ENDS Daily 2 April). Oil companies will continue to be a major focus. "The oil industry has played a role [in blocking action on climate change that is] really beyond even their contribution to global warming," Mr Hincke said.

Forestry will be Greenpeace's second main campaign theme, with the aim to protect the world's remaining old-growth forests. "Worldwide, 20% are still standing in a somewhat viable state, but the rate of cutting is virtually as fast as it has ever been," said Mr Hincke. The group has yet to decide whether it supports the proposal for a global legally-binding forests convention.

Mr Hincke stressed that other Greenpeace campaigns will continue to move forwards. He described its campaign against the plastic PVC as a "major component of [the] toxics [campaign] because of its link to bioaccumulation and endocrine disruption" and he expressed confidence that "over time" Greenpeace would "win the battle".

Two other areas to be prioritised are campaigns against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and nuclear waste reprocessing. Genetic modification is "a cutting edge issue and Greenpeace has been absolutely right in targeting it, " Mr Hincke said.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace International, tel: +31 20 523 6222. The annual report will be available from Friday on the Greenpeace International web site.

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