Greenpeace piling on the pressure

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Greenpeace is now promoting wind power as part of its international Climate Change campaign. Blending activist stunts with polished public relations campaigns the environment lobby group has been grabbing headlines in recent months-with the Greenpeace "offshore wind not oil" slogan often appearing in accompanying illustrations. "Our job is to connect the wind industry to the outside world," says Corin Millais of Greenpeace. "To kick down some of the barriers."

The aims of the climate change campaign are threefold: to influence the oil industry to stop stockpiling and exploring for new oil reserves; to get rid of subsidies to fossil fuel; and to look to wind energy as a proven, immediate alternative. In a series of confrontations on the high seas, Greenpeace activists-armed with pole buoys reading "Wind Not Oil"-have attempted to hinder seismic exploration vessels and offshore oil rigs belonging to companies such as Mobil, Enterprise and Esso. At one incident in August, six activists were arrested by Norwegian police when they occupied the Deepsea Bergen, an oil drilling rig near Kristiansund leased by Statoil, Norway's state owned firm. That same day in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, Greenpeace staff tried to hamper operations on board a ship gathering seismic data for British Petroleum and Exxon.


Radical actions have been accompanied by glossy information campaigns to 17 major oil companies and the governments of the UK, Norway and Ireland. In June UK environment minister Michael Meacher received his own copy of Greenpeace's "New Power For Britain: A strategy for a renewable energy industry" during a tour of the Danish Tun offshore wind farm (Windpower Monthly, July 1998). The brochure stresses Greenpeace's claim that the amount of fossil fuels already discovered is four times as much as can be burned without causing dangerous climatic changes.

The approach might have had some effect. Last month the UK announced a major offshore wind initiative (next story). "Given that we had this whole issue squarely in our sights I should hope we influenced it," says Karl Mallon of Greenpeace. "Clearly the next step was for someone to actually implement it and that's exactly what this is doing."

Greenpeace has also taken its campaign to Argentina, hoping for exposure at the coming United Nations Climate Change Convention in Buenos Aires-the follow up to Kyoto's framework meeting last year. The organisation has lobbied with utility co-operatives and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) for a new wind law that was passed last month (page 14). "This law will enable wind to be much more competitive. Traditionally all fossil fuels and nuclear industry have pocketed all the subsidies in Argentina," says Greenpeace's Holger Roenitz.

Roenitz says he hopes EWEA will be "proactive" at the climate convention. "The oil industry is pumping a lot of money into PR-disclaiming the greenhouse gas theory and such. I understand the wind industry doesn't have the same kind of involvement yet."

Meanwhile, Greenpeace plans to be active in the EU White Paper process for renewable energy, specifically concerned about how renewables will fit into the liberalised market. The tactic the organisation will take has yet to be decided. "At the end of the day, this will all be determined by the market," says Roenitz. "But right now, wind has the highest potential to replace fossil fuels-it is a proven technology. The key is that it is easy to implement."

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