Greenpeace: A Chequered History

Over the years, Greenpeace has been embroiled in battles with corporations, environmentalists and governments.

Updated23 Apr 2015, 10:29 AM IST
India
3 min read

In the latest move in its ongoing battle with Greenpeace, the NDA government is mulling cancelling the tax exemption status for the organisation citing financial irregularities. Currently, donations to Greenpeace enjoy a 50% exemption under the section 80G of the Income Tax Act.

Coupled with the blocking of foreign donations, this move will effectively choke the NGO of funds.

Many activists have come out in support of Greenpeace, accusing the government of clamping down on free speech and dissent. Government and intelligence agencies, on the other hand, claim that the NGO has “financial irregularities” and has “prejudicially affected the public interests and economic interests of the country in violation of FCRA”.

In this file photo, policemen prepare to remove a Greenpeace activist as he holds a banner near the Parliament. (Photo: AP)
In this file photo, policemen prepare to remove a Greenpeace activist as he holds a banner near the Parliament. (Photo: AP)

The Many Wars of Greenpeace

The current dispute began when Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was not allowed to leave India to speak in the UK about alleged human rights violations in Madhya Pradesh. The matter seems to have escalated from there.

Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London in January 2015. (File Photo)
Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to London in January 2015. (File Photo)

India is not the first country where Greenpeace has faced controversy. Over the years, the organisation has found itself embroiled in battles with corporations, environmentalists and governments.

1. Shell Oil Storage Buoy Controversy
In 1995, Greenpeace mounted a successful campaign to force Royal Dutch Shell, co-owner of the Brent Spar oil storage buoy, to dismantle the platform on land rather than scuttling it at sea.

Greenpeace had claimed that the Spar contained 5000 tons of oil.

However, after the affair, it came to light that Greenpeace had miscalculated the amount of toxic waste present aboard the Brent Spar. The organization admitted that its claims were inaccurate and apologized to Shell.

The Greenpeace vessel “Solo” fires it’s water cannons after hearing that Shell had abandoned plans to dump the oil storage rig Brent Spar in the North Atlantic. (Photo: Reuters)
The Greenpeace vessel “Solo” fires it’s water cannons after hearing that Shell had abandoned plans to dump the oil storage rig Brent Spar in the North Atlantic. (Photo: Reuters)

2. Sinking of the ‘Rainbow Warrior’
In 1985, two French intelligence operatives sank the Greenpeace vessel the ‘Rainbow Warrior.’ The vessel was on its way to protest nuclear tests by France. The French government initially denied responsibility but the two operatives were later found guilty.

3. Apology to Government of Peru
In December 2014, Greenpeace apologised to the people of Peru after the government accused environmentalists of damaging ancient earth markings in the country’s coastal desert by leaving footprints. Environmentalists were participating in a publicity stunt which was meant to send a message to delegates at the UN climate talks in Lima.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Activists and scientists have accused the organisation of everything – from being environmental dogmatists to ‘anti-science.’

The government claims that there are discrepancies in Greenpeace’s accounts, while the NGO insists that everything is above board, and they are being persecuted.

Where do you stand? Let us know in the comments section.

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Published: 22 Apr 2015, 12:12 PM IST

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