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The global environmental group Greenpeace has acknowledged that it has made some serious financial mistakes recently but says that doesn’t mean it has lost its integrity.
One of the most embarrassing revelations in a June 22 report in The Guardian is that one of Greenpeace’s top executives, International Program Director Pascal Husting, commutes by plane from his home in Luxembourg to his office in Amsterdam several times a month, an arrangement that doesn’t make for a small carbon footprint.
The organization’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, defended Husting, saying, “Pascal has a young family in Luxembourg. When he was offered the new role he couldn’t move his family to Amsterdam straightaway. He’d be the first to say he hates the commute, hates having to fly, but right now he hasn’t got much of an option until he can move.”
John Sauven, meanwhile, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, wrote in a blog, “I think there is a line there. Honesty and integrity to the values that are at the heart of the good you’re trying to do in the world cannot be allowed to slip away. For what it’s worth, I don’t think we’ve crossed that line.”
That didn’t satisfy Richard Lancaster, who said he had been volunteering with Greenpeace since the 1980s. On the same blog, he responded: “... [I]f I took a job in another country I'd expect to move to where the job is and if I couldn't for family reasons I wouldn't take the job.”
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And a post from an anonymous visitor to Sauven's blog wrote, “So disappointed. Hardly had 2 pennies to rub together but have supported GP [Greenpeace] for 35+ years. Canceling dd [direct debit contributions] for while.”
The revelation about Husting’s commute is only the latest embarrassment for Greenpeace, from poor communication among top executives to poor performance by its financial department. In one case, the environmental group was forced to admit that one of its staff members lost the group more than $510 million on the foreign currency market.
Greenpeace has called this particular blunder “serious,” but at the same time dismissed it as an isolated mistake by a single employee “acting beyond the limits of their authority and without following proper procedures.”
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com