Greenpeace responded to accusations “of cultural ignorance and colonialism” by stating on Twitter Monday “The struggle has never been about saving the planet. The planet does not need saving. This Struggle is about us.”
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) January 4, 2016
The organization has long been criticized on “social justice” grounds for excluding “people of color.” Greenpeace International saw its social justice-friendly executive director, Kumi Naidoo, leave the organization in late December.
Greenpeace’s Tweet was likely responding to December accusations by a collective of “[i]ndigenous, black and brown organizations representing diaspora from the Global South” that criticized Greenpeace and other environmental groups for supporting the “white-hetero-patriarchal-imperial ideology which premises this continued climate colonialism.”
The collective stated that it was “Greenpeace and cohorts who created obstacles for our communities to lead” and that Greenpeace supports “corporate colonialism, in Indigenous territories, where black and brown communities fight back against European-sanctioned climate genocide. ”
Naidoo repeatedly attempted to remake the environmental group into both a “more people centric” social and environmental “justice” movement. He has refereed to attempts to address global warming through international negotiations as “climate apartheid,” a subtle form of racism.
Naidoo’s tenure oversaw many attempts by the environmental groups to reach out to social justice groups, including an actual apology to Inuit commercial seal hunters, whose business and culture Greenpeace disrupted. He also oversaw the organization’s apology to activists and the country of Peru after Greenpeace irreparably damaged a Peruvian World Heritage Site in publicity stunt in December 2014.
Naidoo repeatedly claimed that social justice, women rights and human rights were interconnected with the environment and that Greenpeace should advocate for them all.
Naidoo continued Greenpeace policies of vehement opposition to “corporate” environmentalism and nuclear power. He also received blame for Greenpeace’s recent period of financial disarray.
Greenpeace International has not yet named a new executive director, indicating that the organization may be facing internal political turmoil.
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