Environmental NGOs In the Global South: Saviors of Humanity or Predatory Special Interests?

From Forbes

Tilak Doshi Contributor

I analyze energy economics and related public policy issues.

On Friday, the Moscow Times announced the closure of Greenpeace Russia following the government authorities’ decision to label it “undesirable,” a designation that renders all its activities illegal. The Prosecutor-General’s Office claimed that the group “intervenes in Russia’s internal affairs,” financially supports “foreign agents,” and that its activities “pose a threat to the foundation of the constitutional system and security of the Russian Federation.” It also said that after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, “Greenpeace activists have been involved in anti-Russia propaganda, calling for the further economic isolation of our country, and an increase in sanctions” imposed on Moscow.

In response, Greenpeace Russia said “By destroying Greenpeace for being critical of environmental issues, the country loses one of its leading experts in solving environmental problems.” Over the past 30 years, the organization has played a role bringing to the attention of society and policy makers the myriad environmental problems in the country, from illegal deforestation to the pollution of lakes and rivers, waste management and recycling and so on. The organization argued that “We are doing everything possible to ensure that people in our country live in favorable environmental conditions…Can the protection of the country’s nature be contrary to its interests?”

It is no surprise that the green chattering classes of the West will cast this event as yet another example of Putin’s autocratic government riding roughshod over an organization that speaks on behalf of ordinary people in Russia. Alas were it that simple.

The Indian Experience With Greenpeace

In 2015, the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled the foreign funding of an estimated 10,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for “not complying with tax codes”. The ban on Greenpeace India provoked much furore in the Western press (here and here). The Western mainstream media cast the actions of the government as reflecting the BJP party’s “intolerant nationalism”. Yet it did little to counter the country’s Intelligence Bureau’s charges that Greenpeace was a threat to national economic security, leading protests against nuclear and coal power plants, mining projects and GM foods. According to the Bureau’s report, Greenpeace alone was leading a “massive effort to take down India’s coal-fired power plant and coal mining activity.” According to Reuters that had seen an excerpt of the report, the cancellation, disruption or delay to various development projects had clipped gross domestic product growth by 2 to 3 percent a year.

Greenpeace India defended itself from the accusations, claiming that it stood for “sustainable development”. It said “We have a legitimate right to express our views in what is the world’s largest democracy. We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”

A good example of Greenpeace’s notions of “sustainable development” relates to the case of the village of Dharnai in India’s poorest state (Bihar) severely lacking access to electricity. Greenpeace activists set up a solar-powered microgrid for the village in 2014 with much publicity. Problems emerged immediately with the load put on the solar “grid,” as households began hooking up appliances such as television sets, electric water heaters, irons, and air conditioners. At the official opening of the solar power system, the villagers protested with banners saying, “we want real electricity, not fake electricity.” “Real” meant power from the central grid generated mostly using coal. “Fake’ referred to intermittent and dilute solar power. In great irony, embarrassed state officials facing the press at the gala opening of the Greenpeace-promoted solar showpiece ensured that the village was soon connected to the coal-fired power grid.

According to a report published last week, state-run Coal India Ltd has developed 52 coal mining projects, including 13 new coal blocks in a plan to attain the one billion tonne coal production target by the fiscal year 2025–26. As a result of aggressive coal mining developments over the past few years, India has maintained relatively stable electricity prices despite the surge in global energy prices after the Ukraine war. Greenpeace would have had it otherwise though claiming to represent the interests of India’s power-deprived citizens.

Western-Funded Environmental NGOs in the Third World

Greenpeace is headquartered in Amsterdam, has a large budget with contributions from rich foundations such as the Rockefeller Family Fund. It controls huge lobbying and litigation resources, often exceeding government finances available to many small developing countries. Well-funded NGOs such as Greenpeace represent large bureaucracies with interests in creating environmental scares to maximize income, salaries and perks of its staff and key executives. The classic example of Greenpeace raising cash via bogus alarmist reports relates to polar bears that are allegedly facing extinction.

Are Western-funded environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace operating in the Global South the moral arbiters of environmental issues affecting the poor and the marginalized? Are they the “global salvationists” giving succour to the “wretched of the earth”? Do they promote “sustainable development” in the face of predatory capitalists and their governmental supporters? As the late classical economist Deepak Lal asked in an opinion piece on the foreign-funded NGO ban, “what are we to make of their local representatives who seek to influence their countries’ public policy to the agenda of their foreign sponsors”?


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Richard Page
May 27, 2023 3:01 am

Greenpeace have a track record everywhere they go of politicised self-interest. What most countries would see as interference in the internal political debate, Greenpeace sees as it’s right. It’s about time they were shown that this is wrong and, if they want to work in a country, they must adapt themselves to that countries needs and goals, not the other way round.

May 27, 2023 4:42 am

Speaking of the south what on earth is this dribble all about?
Dangerous slowing of Antarctic ocean circulation sooner than expected (msn.com)

Gunn said previously it had been difficult to understand the changes happening in the remote region because of a lack of data and a host of challenges for scientific research, from getting funding to facing extreme conditions at sea. 
The authors used observational data gathered by hundreds of scientists over decades and then “filled in the gaps” with computer modelling.  

Reply to  observa
May 27, 2023 4:58 am

“filled in the gaps” with computer modelling.

That’s rather like plugging a gaping hole with candyfloss.

Reply to  Disputin
May 27, 2023 5:25 am

Also known as cotton candy.

Reply to  Scissor
May 27, 2023 10:06 am

and “fairy floss”

(although back in the day, no male teenager would be seen dead eating something called “fairy floss”)

May 27, 2023 4:48 am

“…one of its leading experts in solving environmental problems”


Reply to  Disputin
May 27, 2023 5:37 am

To Greenpeace’s funders, we are environmental problems they wish to solve.

Richard Page
Reply to  Disputin
May 27, 2023 12:03 pm

Solving? No – there’s no long term gain or advantage to Greenpeace in solving a problem. Keeping the problem going whilst positioning themselves as a key player for the ongoing financial reward is their goal.

Reply to  Disputin
June 5, 2023 2:11 am

Greenpeace has NEVER solved a single environmental problem, or even contributed to solving one. Instead, it has created such problems as a means of acquiring even greater wealth and influence.

May 27, 2023 5:00 am

Greenpeace has simply become a self-serving money machine on the lookout for the next hot topic to attach a “donation button” to.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 27, 2023 5:32 am

Someone should tell them fossil fuels saved the whales as their numbers recovered so much so they’ve become a navigation hazard. Except more whales means more Orca food and hence more Orcas-
‘Elaborate’ orca hunt witnessed in full at Bremer Canyon, off south coast of WA – ABC News
Blue whale savaged off the south coast of WA by hungry killer whales – ABC News
Orcas filmed hunting and killing elusive whale species off WA for first time – ABC News
No doubt the Krill Liberation Front are cheering for the Orcas and Japanese scientific whalers.

Reply to  observa
May 27, 2023 5:48 am

PS: Speaking of Orcas we used to have a cosy relationship-
Killer whales of Eden, New South Wales – Wikipedia
but you know how it is with the modern generation-
Killer whales severely damage sail boat off the coast of southern Spain – ABC News

Reply to  observa
May 27, 2023 10:09 am

the Krill Liberation Front


We, the Liberation Front of Krills, are the only real party for oppressed and endangered Krills.

Richard Page
Reply to  observa
May 27, 2023 12:09 pm

Somebody once mentioned that the translation of their name was wrong – it’s commonly translated as ‘killer whale’, despite them being a type of dolphin, when the correct translation should be ‘whale killer’.

May 27, 2023 5:26 am

Greenpeace is a busted flush. Its become rather predictable and always on the side of woke capitalism. I suspect they drink Bud Light after a hard day’s campaigning.

But I did manage a good laugh at the predicament of Chris Packham (colleague of Attenburghee at Population Matters) who has just been appointed President of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). He can’t quite bring himself to join JSO… but he will give them a voice.

“‘If it’s not disruptive it doesn’t get news’ – Chris Packham backs Just Stop Oil in London slow walk”

NB The Morning Star is the Communist paper of the UK

“A furious motorist trying to get to hospital – the footage of which was played behind Packham’s speech, which was shared by Just Stop Oil – was forced to mount the pavement after being blocked by Just Stop Oil eco-clowns.

The outraged driver branded the eco-mob ‘weasels’ and ‘a joke’ after being caught behind their latest slow-march in London.

Police pleaded with the protesters to allow the man to pass, with an officer claiming the motorist was on his way to ‘a hospital appointment’.

But the plea fell on deaf ears as climate change fanatics ignored the officer’s claim, with one stubbornly saying: ‘I don’t believe that’s case.’

The Met have since slammed the motorist and confirmed that they are investigating him for taking matters into his own hands – saying: ‘People should not intervene or take actions that might cause danger to others or cause them to commit offences.'”

The Police are 100% behind Packham and friends.

During the coronation the Met swept through all the surrounding areas making many wrongful arrests.

Westminster City Council officials said they are “deeply concerned” by reports women’s safety volunteers were arrested hours before the Coronation.
The Met said at about 02:00 BST on Saturday three people were arrested in Soho on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.
Among items seized were a number of rape alarms, the force said.
The Met said it “received intelligence” people “were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the procession”.

Two women, 37 and 59, and a man, 47, were taken to a south London police station where they were questioned.

Aicha Less, cabinet member for communities and public protection at Westminster City Council, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of our Night Stars volunteers being arrested overnight.

Last edited 10 days ago by strativarius
Reply to  strativarius
May 27, 2023 5:46 am

Very odd. Historically, the use of billy clubs to break up unruly mobs has been a specialty of British Bobbies, and a strong deterrent from people involving themselves a second time in such activities, (also at low cost to the court system). It seems the level of violence required to render belligerents docile is something management doesn’t want seen on the ‘tube. They have taken the attitude that sooner or later the demonstrators will get hungry or tired and go home and nobody will bother ‘tubing a boring group of road pylons.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
May 27, 2023 7:16 am

They are now a rainbow outfit

abolition man
May 27, 2023 5:33 am

As Dr. Patrick Moore has stated, Greenpeace has become an anti-human organization! They work diligently to remove pollutants, like intelligent carbon-based life forms, from the environment! The only problem is that all life on Earth is dependent on an intelligent species recognizing that CO2 starvation will likely occur during a period of glaciation in the next few million years! If current trends in education continue, we are doomed!

Tom Abbott
May 27, 2023 6:04 am

From the article:”As the late classical economist Deepak Lal asked in an opinion piece on the foreign-funded NGO ban, “what are we to make of their local representatives who seek to influence their countries’ public policy to the agenda of their foreign sponsors”?”

I think all the foreign sponsors of NGO’s and their local representatives should be scrutinized closely.

This is a problem for many nations: Billionaires using their money to exercise undue influence over others, which ends up being detrimental to the public, like George Soros funding soft-on-crime District Attorney across the United States, or his open-borders initiative.

We don’t need foreign billionaires telling us what to do.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 27, 2023 8:57 am

“We don’t need foreign billionaires telling us what to do.” Nobody does. As far as I’m concerned, both foreign capitol and foreign influence in local maters should be restricted to banking and books (or their equivalent). The availability of capitol for economic development and knowledge of both the good and the bad of other cultures and the mistakes they made in arriving there are all a culture needs in order to progress. They don’t need outside activists, disenchanted with their own development, telling them how to screw up their own.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 27, 2023 2:34 pm

We don’t need ANY billionaires telling us what to do. Let them mind THEIR business. And just to be clear, that doesn’t include MY business.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
May 28, 2023 5:24 am

I agree. Domestic billionaires are as bad as foreign billionaires when it comes to undue influence.

May 27, 2023 6:51 am

I have only disdain and criticisms for Greenpeace. Watched them for the last 40 years telling lies and showing their collective ignorance.
Greenpeace did not clean up any significant pollution with their bare hands. They would not know how. They collected donations by scaring youngsters with stories of harm, used that money to influence pollies and bureaucrats to threaten and fine industrial corporations who were looking after their pollution with what little money they could afford on the era post WWII. Greenpeace were bullies who caused companies to spend funds for remediation sooner than it was economically desirable. They also were part of useless EPA schemes to spend large dollars on the (sacred) environment when often companies had more effective uses for those dollars.
How do I know? I spent too much of my career countering the costly, virtue signalling interference of Greenpeace and others. Hands on experience allows one to write of real events, not the theoretical bullshit that Greenpeace uses for praising itself. Geoff S

AGW is Not Science
May 27, 2023 9:59 am

Global South?!

Why limit it??

Environmental NGOs are predatory special interests, period.

Last edited 10 days ago by AGW is Not Science
MIke McHenry
May 27, 2023 10:34 am

Just Google Golden Rice (GMO) and Greenpeace. The results will tell you all you need to know about this NGO

MIke McHenry
Reply to  MIke McHenry
May 27, 2023 1:59 pm

It was created to prevent blindness in 3rd world children by adding a beta carotene.to rice Greenpeace opposed planting it

Leo Smith
May 27, 2023 1:29 pm

Odd. I always assumed Greenpeace was 100% funded and controlled by the Kremlin.

Richard Page
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 27, 2023 6:16 pm

Not 100%. In 2014 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary general, stated his opinion (based on intelligence sources and information from allies) that Russia was secretly funding (and actively working with) anti-fracking groups. Greenpeace, in response, vehemently denied that this was the case: “The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ.”

Last edited 10 days ago by Richard Page
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Page
May 28, 2023 5:26 am

That’s what a puppet of Putin would say though, isn’t it.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 28, 2023 1:32 pm

Well, yeah.
I still think that the pattern, set by the Soviet Union, was to infiltrate and fund single-focus protest groups, rather than the general, vague widespread Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. I’d be looking for Russian funding in the smaller anti-fracking groups across the UK, Europe and America though.

May 27, 2023 5:49 pm

Barely green…often not peaceful..

Last edited 10 days ago by SteveG
May 27, 2023 8:27 pm

This should not be news. And no one should care. Canada revoked the charitable status of Greenpeace n 1989 because of its perpetual involvement in Canadian politics. It tried repeatedly to overturn this decision, but the courts would have nothing to do with Greenpeace and its flagrant violations of Canadian corporate law and Greenpeace’s own legal requirements by its charter.

The principal problem with the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 was that there was only one ecoterrorist on board when it was sunk in Auckland harbour.

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