Greenpeace International boss Kumi Naidoo explains why governments want to spy on environmentalists

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      The executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, has called the Conservative government’s antiterrorism legislation, Bill C-51, “tough on democracy and weak on terrorism”.

      If Bill C-51 receives royal assent, judges will have the power to authorize police investigators in advance to violate people’s constitutional rights, and the legislation facilitates the sharing of sensitive personal information with foreign governments.

      It’s making its way through Parliament after an RCMP intelligence report released earlier this year declared that the “growing, highly organized and well-financed anti-Canada petroleum movement” is a rising security threat.

      “You’ve got a 20th-century approach to intelligence in a 21st-century world—in a world of social media,” Naidoo said in an interview at the Georgia Straight office. “I mean, 90 percent of anything they want to know about me they can go and seek on Twitter.”

      Naidoo said governments of Canada and other countries are increasing surveillance of the environmental movement because it’s no longer a “fringe” issue.

      “Everything Greenpeace is saying, the UN intergovernmental panel on climate science is saying,” Naidoo said. “That’s the biggest scientific enterprise in the history of human science.”

      He added that the environmental movement is “unrecognizable” from what it looked like 20 or 30 years ago. He described Greenpeace as a “catalytic organization” that assists others, including indigenous peoples who are standing up to defend ecological assets. He noted that more faith-based groups are joining this fight and predicted that the Pope will soon present an encyclical on human ecologies.

      “The environmental movement is not just Greenpeace, WWF [World Wildlife Fund], Friends of the Earth, and some national organizations,” he said. “It’s the women’s movement. It’s the youth movement. Let’s be blunt about it: climate change is a game-changer on our side in terms of organizing because it’s completely cross-cutting.”

      Naidoo, a South African based in Amsterdam, argued that the battle against climate change encompasses the economy and peace and security. He cited a 2003 report commissioned by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon that concluded the largest threats to peace, security, and stability will not come from terrorism but from climate change. To support this point, he mentioned recent conflicts in Africa as well as the Syrian civil war, which, he argued, was triggered by a drought that threatened people’s livelihoods.

      “In Syria, people lived under the Assad dictatorship for a long time,” he noted. “So why did they have the guts to eventually resist? Because it got to a point where you would die anyway.”

      Naidoo pointed out that Greenpeace remains opposed to nuclear energy because it’s too dangerous and too expensive. And as a response to climate change, he claimed that it won’t deliver reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions soon enough. Naidoo also maintained that even if the nuclear industry could guarantee no terrorist attacks and no human failures at any of its power plants, it still can’t safely dispose of nuclear waste.

      “If we put a couple of solar panels on every home in Canada, that will generate more electricity more quickly and more cheaply than taking the risk with a big power plant,” he stated.

      Naidoo revealed that in 2011, four Greenpeace colleagues from the East Asia office were prevented from entering South Korea, which relies, in part, on nuclear power. Later, he learned that the South Korean government had approached South African intelligence officials seeking a “specific security assessment” on him.

      He emphasized that governments’ use of surveillance against the environmental movement demonstrates its success.

      “You know, [Mahatma] Gandhi once said, ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,’ “ Naidoo said. “In fact, for us, it would be worse if they were ignoring or laughing at us. It would mean we’re not having impact.”



      Sudhir Sajwan

      Apr 16, 2015 at 12:28am



      Apr 16, 2015 at 12:38pm

      The sad fact is the Industry controls our Politicians.

      Corporations especially major multinationals in Oil, Finance (Banksters) etc can afford and do spend the millions if not billions to further their own Agenda and commercial interests.

      The average Canadian can not spend Billions or even Millions to lobby Government / Politicians.

      That's why Government Agencies monitor Environmental Groups because they are ordered to by Politicians who are in turn controlled and ordered by major Corporate interests.

      Until we as Canadians wake up to this simple fact and don't believe any politician but pressure via Votes and Public pressure for Politicians to change Laws in our favor and serve our interests nothing will change.


      Apr 20, 2015 at 9:40am

      How are you going to make up for the 40% of global electricity generation that currently comes from coal? If the world is actually serious about climate change and CO2 emissions, we're going to need some big, base load power source to phase out that coal. If this guy doesn't think that nuclear can do that "fast enough", I suggest he has a think of how long it would take to replace that kind of energy with wind and solar projects. The longer the world drags its heels on carbon-free nuclear, the more real the millions upon millions of deaths and displacements from climate change will become. Take your pick.