Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace who later saw the light, continues to keep a watchful eye on his former comrades. In yesterday’s Vancouver Sun, Moore argues that Greenpeace may be endangering forest conservation in Indonesia by trying to convince public and private entities that the Forest Stewardship Council (established with Greenpeace support, according to Moore) is the sole acceptable certification standard for sustainable forestry. Moore levels a bold charge at his ex-colleagues:
Imagine a situation in which an activist group with certain political ambitions and close ties to a computer manufacturer engaged in a campaign of threats against specific retailers.
Targeted retailers were told that they must buy computers from only a select manufacturer (the one closely associated with the activist group) and no other, to the detriment of the retailer, market competition and consumers at large. If retailers dared to purchase from any other computer manufacturer, the activist group would continue a campaign to spread misinformation, harass and embarrass the retailer, and sully its name brand.
If this fictional scenario were made real, it would likely be cause for an investigation. In the world of organized crime, this type of strategy has a name: racketeering.
Yet when my former colleagues at Greenpeace employ a similar strategy to target Indonesian forest product producers (albeit without the threat of violence often associated with racketeering), they’re hailed as leaders by their fellow environmental activists.
We suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Greenpeace may be muscling around businesses. After all, this is a group that vandalized a crop experiment in Australia earlier this year (thankfully, the police raided its offices). And given all the recent noise about tuna fishing, we have to wonder whether Greenpeace is planning a similar campaign aimed at grocery seafood aisles. Greenpeace publishes a “red list” of species and fisheries that the group feels are not harvested in a sustainable fashion.
Could a Forest Stewardship Council-like scheme be in the making for fish? Greenpeace states that “no fully credible certification system for sustainable seafood currently exists,” so it seems possible. Greenpeace may not have any plans for “threatening name-brand retailers and manufacturers who do not agree” to its fisheries policy (although curiously the bottom five retailers graded “fail” in this report were the only ones not to reply to Greenpeace’s questionnaire), but given Moore’s revelations about the organization’s forestry policy consumers would be wise to consider the source of any environmental rating they choose to follow.