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HomeNewsGreenpeace’s own environmental vandalism goes conveniently unreported

Greenpeace’s own environmental vandalism goes conveniently unreported


NEWS organisations try to build a reputation based on what they publish. But what they leave out can be damaging to them.

The BBC is rather Orwellian in this respect. When the first convictions for gang-rape in Rotherham were reported, they made no mention whatsoever of the coincidence of the background of the criminals. Taken to task on the BBC’s Newswatch, the BBC have somewhat improved, though they still seem to be treating organised gang-rape as a local news issue, as was pointed out over the coverage of the years of criminality in Telford.

A story that has escaped all news organisations in the UK deserves to be reported. It concerns the actions of a well-known organisation which allowed a former ship of theirs to start to be scrapped in Bangladesh in a most environmentally-damaging fashion. This is despite this ship-owner constantly boasting of a strong commitment to protect the environment.

Beach scrapping involves deliberately running the ship aground. There, the ship is dismantled, usually by unskilled labour. There is no method, as there would be in any kind of breaking yard, to ensure that environmentally hazardous substances, such as fuel-oil, do not escape to pollute the surroundings. Bangladesh is a desperately poor country whose economy does not match the size of its population. The UK has 10 times the GDP per capita. Certainly it is possible that scrapping a ship on a Bangladeshi beach out of the way of the traditional facilities associated with a yard might be a health and safety issue for the scrappers.

So the former ship-owner which organised the vessel to be scrapped in such a fashion in a Commonwealth country would surely be the target of strong criticism from members of the environmentalist lobby, such as say, Greenpeace. Caroline Lucas, she of the Green Party, would surely raise the issue in the House of Commons, especially if the former ship-owner were European with branches in the UK. The EU itself has strong regulations against EU ship-owners employing beach-scrapping. However, these can be easily bypassed by re-flagging a ship before scrapping.

Except Caroline will not be raising this issue at all.

The former owners of the ship were Greenpeace themselves.

The first Rainbow Warrior was blown up by French Intelligence in the summer of 1985, killing a photographer who idiotically went back for his equipment just in time for the second of two limpet mines on the hull to go off. The second ship of that name was originally launched in 1957 and had a long career of virtue signalling on the high seas before it reached the end of its useful life. It would be reasonable to assume that Greenpeace would be diligent in ensuring that the ship would eventually be scrapped in an environmentally-friendly fashion. But it is clear they were not. The ship’s last years were spent as a floating clinic run by a Bangladeshi organisation called ‘Friendship’.

Greenpeace’s mea culpa states:

When we transferred the ship to Friendship in 2011 we retained the right of veto over any final disposal plan. She became a Bangladeshi ship, owned, operated and flagged and only licensed to sail inland and coastal waters. Given its condition, we presumed it would need to be decommissioned in the best way possible in Bangladesh. As proposed by Friendship.

We should have consulted our partners in the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Basel Action Network, we did not. No excuse. We should have.


We should have examined all options to have the ship decommissioned ‘off the beach’ and in a way that provides guarantees that all wastes generated will be managed in the most environmentally safe way possible.

We are now seeking to ensure that specific wastes that cannot be treated safely, ‘downstream’, in Bangladesh can be sent out of the country for management.

Compare Greenpeace’s soft rhetoric with how they describe the actions of oil companies in South America:

‘The way these oil companies operate is pure environmental vandalism and demonstrates how little control local authorities truly have,’ said Paul Horsman, spokesperson for Greenpeace Andino’s climate and energy campaign. ‘Oil-soaked soils and polluted air may be business as usual for companies like Shell and Total, but the government of Argentina cannot afford to continue putting oil industry profits before the health of its communities. With climate scientists warning that the world has just 12 years to cut fossil fuel use by 50 per cent, it is madness to spend billions of dollars fracking Patagonia into oblivion.’

The paradox here is that Greenpeace, like the oil company, might have been directly or indirectly responsible for a piece of land being soaked with oil or other harmful chemicals. But the tone of wording in their humiliating press release does not reflect that. Greenpeace’s allowing their former property potentially, if not actually, to cause ‘pure environmental vandalism’ in one of the world’s poorest countries is a sin for which forgiveness is begged. An oil company doing something similar is cast by Greenpeace as the unredeemable work of the Devil.

Yet Greenpeace being hoist by their own ethical petard has not been reported by any major news organisation in the UK. We are left with the vision of a virtue-signalling environmentalist organisation that denounces companies for practices of a kind that they have, on the one occasion of which we know, permitted to happen, despite a specific commitment they made. As Greenpeace say themselves, they have no excuse. But news organisations also have no excuse for ignoring an interesting, if inconvenient, piece of news.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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