Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace
   These two environmental groups established themselves in Britain in 1977 and 1971 respectively, with Friends of the Earth gaining instant media attention for its campaign against non-returnable bottles. Both organizations share a common environmental agenda (pollution control, nature preservation, wildlife/habitat preservation, antinuclear technology and nuclear arms), but what distinguishes them is strategy and political style. Membership of both organizations grew in the 1980s and 1990s. Studies estimate that about 8 percent of the British population (4.5 million) are members of some environmental group (Garner 1996:64).
   Greenpeace is the more ‘radical’ organization in terms of its campaigning style which includes direct action and publicity stunts, while Friends of the Earth adopts a traditional lobbying approach, seeking to influence government ministers, MPs and the public about its environmental agenda. Perhaps the most infamous example of Greenpeace’s campaigning was its success in reversing a British government decision to dump the disused oil storage facility Brent Spar in 1995. Greenpeace is also associated in the public mind with having its flagship vessel Rainbow Warrior sunk by agents of the French secret service in July 1985 in the harbour at Auckland, New Zealand; one of its members was killed.
   Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have, according to McCormick (1991:158) moved away from ‘complaint and criticism, and towards research-based appeals to policy makers, industry and the public’. Indeed, such is the public disquiet and/or suspicion about ‘official’ science and information about environmental matters (from government or industry sources) that more people believe the scientific expertise of environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, which have a strong reputation for excellence and trustworthiness. The transition away from confrontational campaigning has been most notable with Friends of the Earth, with Greenpeace still retaining its radical, media-orientated style. These changes have meant that Friends of the Earth has moved towards being an ‘insider’ group, that is, accepted as part of the ‘environment policy community’ in the UK (though not as completely as other environmental organizations such as the National Trust and Council for the Protection of Rural England, which have more access to the policy-making process). On the other hand, Greenpeace has maintained its ‘outsider’ status, as a less compromising environmental organization. See also: Amnesty International; animal rights; green consumerism; hunt saboteurs
   Further reading
    Garner, R. (1996) Environmental Politics, London: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.
    McCormick, J. (1991) British Politics and the Environment, London: Earthscan.
   JOHN BARRY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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