Tzeporah Berman dismisses on-line campaign against her new Greenpeace job

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      It’s been almost a year since controversial B.C. environmentalist Tzeporah Berman caused an uproar ahead of the 2009 provincial election by criticizing the NDP for its opposition to the carbon tax.

      Now Berman is hitting back at critics who have launched a Web site, Save Greenpeace, aimed at gathering signatures on a petition demanding that Greenpeace International rescind its recent hiring of her.

      Berman will start her new job as codirector of Greenpeace’s global climate and energy campaign on April 1 and now plans to move to Europe.

      “I really don’t have much time for people who spend more time in a circular firing squad than in fighting fossil fuels,” Berman, executive director of PowerUP Canada, told the Straight from her home on Cortes Island. “That is what this is. The fossil fuel industry must love this. This isn’t a debate. It’s a classic circular firing squad, and all it does is reduce our effectiveness and waste our time.”

      As of today (March 17), 118 people had signed the on-line petition. The petition states, “We call on Greenpeace to live up to the spirit of 39 years of dedicated action and renounce collaboration and partnership with destructive corporations.”

      The site also criticizes Berman’s support of Premier Gordon Campbell, her support for private run-of-river hydropower generation, and her collaboration with “resource extraction corporations”.

      Edmonton-based activist Macdonald Stainsby told the Straight he was one of “several” individuals who cofounded the Save Greenpeace site.

      Montréal-based cofounder Dru Oja Jay said in a phone interview that he is familiar with what he calls “the Great Bear Rainforest sellout”.

      The Straight asked Jay whether he thought Berman is damaged goods in B.C.

      “It would seem so, yes,” Jay said. “If you give Gordon Campbell an award during Copenhagen, I would hope that you are damaged goods. But I haven’t seen any polling on it. The issue is democracy. There is no democratic accountability in environmental groups. In the past this has served Greenpeace well, in the sense that they had a strong pro-environment mandate. But now the lack of accountability is starting to really show its weaknesses. The executive is going in a direction of corporate collaboration which is exactly the wrong way that we need Greenpeace to go if we are going to stop runaway climate change.”

      Jay added that Greenpeace’s move could have ramifications in Alberta, where tar sands operations are at a critical crossroads and already contribute huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

      “What we are afraid that they are going to do, and what every indication says they are going to do, is undertake a large-scale market and direct-action type campaign and then that is going to feed in to some type of closed-door negotiation with oil companies in terms of the tar sands,” Jay said. “In our minds that would be catastrophic, because the climate isn’t something that you can just shave a little bit off of and call it progress. What they are going to do is take all of the momentum that’s going to be built up by grassroots groups and people who are legitimately worried about the tar sands and they are going to funnel it into something that falls short of what’s needed and that is to shut down the tar sands.”

      Ivan Doumenc, a 2008 Vancouver park board candidate with the Work Less Party, has signed the petition.

      “I’ve been so mad generally over what Tzeporah has been doing that it’s hard to focus on the exact root cause of what’s making it so difficult [to express in words],” Doumenc told the Straight.

      “For me, fundamentally, it’s the discrepancy between what she claims to stand for, and what she actually does in effect, which is serve as a front for a privatization scheme that has nothing to do with the environment or the public interest, but has a lot to do with the wealth of transnational corporations,” Doumenc said. “Now, if you’re from the private power industry or the B.C. Liberals, fair game, fair game. That’s what you are in the business of doing. But when you are an environmentalist with a track record, with a reputation, this basically makes me go ballistic.”

      Doumenc added: “The other thing that makes me mad is, she is using all that credibility that she has built with the public to do what? To stab us in the back and to essentially go in the opposite direction of what she is standing for, and support privatization of the commons. It’s absurd. To know that, now she’s done the damage in B.C., she’s leaving and going and working for Greenpeace somewhere—forget it, you know? We’ve got to stop that.”

      Berman dismissed these sentiments.

      “One of the reasons that I am joining Greenpeace is because it is such an effective organization around the world in protesting dirty oil and coal,” Berman said. “I think that we need more protest in the future and not less. They are creating this polemic out there, this concern that Greenpeace has hired someone that doesn’t believe in what Greenpeace does, and that is not true.”

      Berman added that, from her perspective, 118 signatures “pales in comparison to the amazing amount of e-mails and calls” that she and Greenpeace have received in support of her move.

      Comments

      19 Comments

      too late

      Mar 17, 2010 at 8:06pm

      Great news - if it had happened two years ago.

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      sleepswithangels

      Mar 17, 2010 at 9:53pm

      She should just get past all the horseshit pretense and join the BC Liberals and be a full time sock puppet for earth rapers and polluters.

      Our fragile eco systems can't survive the kind of compromise Berman thinks is progressive. The absurd concept of fighting the good fight from within the belly of the beast must appeal greatly to has beens who itch to regain past glory as "green" media darlings. Patrick Moore must be laughing his sellout ass off.
      SMBs

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      hmm

      Mar 17, 2010 at 10:36pm

      Happy to see her leave the country.

      What amazes me is her ability to engage in self-deception.

      Poor, poor Tzeporah. She served as a quisling to prop up a provincial government that played her like a violin; she provided a heat-shield to private power producers who laughed all the way to the bank as she insisted General Electric truly cared about "green energy"; and she damaged the environmental community as she tried to strong arm people into supporting her short-sighted and profoundly arrogant views.

      Thank God almost everyone in the ENGO community saw beyond her petty politics, grandstanding and self promotion. Tzeporah made her bed and now she's lying in it and complaining that she can't get a good night's sleep. Boo hoo.

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      nuance, not ideology please

      Mar 18, 2010 at 12:38am

      I think that Gordon Campbell is an utter hypocrite on climate change (e.g carbon tax that is too small to reduce carbon, $800 million+ in subsidies to oil and gas, sprawl and car inducing Gateway project, tax breaks for new cars, woefully underfunded programs for home energy retrofits, first tax on bikes since 1981, not permitting road pricing or parking levies to fund transit, etc, etc, etc). But there's a greater issue here: the view that all corporations are evil. If you want to have that view, fine, have that view. Life must be nice in black and white.

      The fact is corporations aren't going away anytime soon. Are some evil and planet-destroying in their practices? Without a doubt. If they are, don't support them, let people know about them and protest away. But there are also corporations seeking to do the right thing while turning a profit. Personally, I've got no problem with that and think we should encourage the ones not just trying, but doing the right thing. To help them do the right thing we need gov'ts that ensure the proper environmental assessment processes are in place. Not just ones that create the perception of screening or are controlled by industry cronies. If BC is so progressive on the environmental front we should have the most rigorous EA processes in the country and world.

      Finally, I recently watched Food Inc and was once again pleased to be a vegetarian. But one particular scene comes to mind where a former hippie turned organic yogurt producer explains how some of his friends turned on him for selling his product through a big box retailer. Now, I don't shop at big box retailers for a number of reasons but I do recognize that tens or hundreds of millions do. Addressing the urgent ecological, human security and resource scarcity problems that we have isn't going to be addressed through the elimination of the corporation. Nor is it going to be addressed by those millions of current big box shoppers all of a sudden rejecting corporations and going to shop at their local neighbourhood grocer's. As much as I would love that to be the case. So I'm led to believe that it's better to engage these companies, get them to adopt more sustainable practices and products and educate the public so that they can make better informed consumption decisions. The Story of Stuff (http://www.storyofstuff.com/) might be a good tool to start the conversation. But, attacking and simplistically writing off those who try to get companies and their suppliers and consumers to change in a good way seems as ideological and short-sighted as those touting "free enterprise or death". Those are my two cents. I look forward to yours.

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      Corporate Slacker

      Mar 18, 2010 at 9:56am

      Pretty rich for Berman, who has been undermining the work of environmentalists for years, to play the "circular firing squad" card.

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      Corporate Slacker

      Mar 18, 2010 at 10:01am

      In response to "nuance, not ideology," no one is opposing making corporations do less damage. What's being opposed is the top down control through funding--and the selling short through unaccountable closed-door negotiations--of movements that work hard to stop environmental destruction. With your heightened capacity for nuance, you should be able to tell the difference.

      jansumi

      Mar 18, 2010 at 11:15am

      Compromise - results in truth being eroded and finally undermined but averting it is unrealistic if we want any scope. With or without it we battle delusion. If evolution and progress really exist then supposedly it will all come out in the wash, but that's small consolation for we who want improvements within our given lifetimes. And if the life of the planet is really at risk now, then how do we incorporate 'realistic timelines' into the plan. Is anyone out there addressing that question properly?

      glen p robbins

      Mar 18, 2010 at 3:04pm

      'Supporting Gordon Campbell showed Ms. Berman's political naivety. She has been around long enough to know--that this was unwise on her part. Politically, her political capital was eradicated on the Green front, particularly after Campbell lied about the Budget and HST to win the election.

      In order to ensure that her credibility on environmental matters remains of value this is a good move for her as she can legitimately speak to environmental issues--but certainly not political ones as these relate to British Columbian public policy-- and this is not only fair (politically)--it is necessary.

      nuance, not ideology

      Mar 18, 2010 at 3:33pm

      Point taken 'Corporate Slacker'. I was trying to make a point about a general attitude that corporations are evil and that anyone who tries to work with them by default becomes an enemy. Suzuki is a classic example. He was vilified for coming out against the 'axe the tax' campaign when putting a price on carbon is the single greatest thing that can be done to encourage investment in renewables and getting companies to realize business as usual is no longer acceptable. It also shows politicians outside of BC that putting a price on carbon doesn't have to equal political death. Those are game changers.

      Groups can and should campaign to create awareness about the impacts of the tar sands and other carbon spewing industries. I contribute to those efforts whenever I can. We also need coordinated conservation efforts and government investments so it's easier for people to choose less polluting lifestyles. Clearly the carbon tax alone won't do it because as of last year BC's emissions were still increasing (http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/12/21/bc-greenhouse...). But in the mean time we at least have a price on carbon and companies are starting to reduce their carbon footprints. Outside of Quebec there's no other effective North American carbon pricing regime and continental cap and trade seems like a pipe dream right now given the US political landscape. That doesn't mean though that greenwashing efforts like the federal carbon capture and storage joke or Campbell's talking green but acting brown should in any way be tolerated. If Berman is complicit with this then she should be called out too.

      But, the fact is we need to transition to a low carbon society and economy, the private sector needs to be part of the solution and I don't really care which party does it provided that it actually reduces overall carbon output. We need scaled up renewables and fast but not so fast that EA processes are circumvented or local ecosystem health is compromised so that the tar sands or others can emit more carbon. BC may be ahead of other jurisdictions on this but if we destroy our local ecosystems in the rush to produce renewables I don't know how convincingly we'll get others to adopt the same path. Interesting times indeed.

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      bev

      Mar 18, 2010 at 4:43pm

      I have never understood why environmentalists, media, etc give Ms Berman or any one person so much attention. Let's focus on the real enemies & STOP this divide & conquer approach to environmental politics. It only wastes our own valuable people resources. Let's MOVE ON!

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