Greenpeace in rift with US branch over free flights competition prize

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The Independent Online

The American wing of Greenpeace has been accused by its colleagues in Britain of sabotaging global attempts to combat climate change, by giving away flying holidays to remote parts of the world.

The American wing of Greenpeace has been accused by its colleagues in Britain of sabotaging global attempts to combat climate change, by giving away flying holidays to remote parts of the world.

To the dismay of its British counterparts, Greenpeace USA is offering holidays to Pacific islands and remote parts of South America as prizes for recruiting new members or campaigning against nuclear power.

In a move described by its British colleagues as "completely barking", Greenpeace USA has linked the holidays to its new "Project Thin Ice" initiative to prove the Arctic icecap is melting because of global warming. The campaign began on 10 May when two explorers set out on the first unsupported summer crossing of the Arctic.

The holiday prizes include staying in "wilderness lodges" in Papua New Guinea, which would involve a New Yorker flying roughly 20,000 miles to get there and back via Tokyo. That would create about 10 tonnes of the greenhouse gas CO2 per person.

The apparent contradiction between the prizes and the climate change campaign has infuriated Greenpeace's leadership in Britain and its international headquarters in Amsterdam. Greenpeace UK has just launched its "climate criminals" campaign, which will include targeting major airlines over rising levels of CO2 from air travel.

Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: "It's pretty clear what our views about this would be."

But their appeals to their US colleagues to scrap the holidays were "robustly" rejected. Carol Gregory, of Greenpeace USA, said it was raising awareness of the impact of flying with the holiday firms and its members by paying money into a "clean energy" fund by calculating the environmental damage caused by each flight.

Jeff Gazzard, a climate campaigner with the Aviation Environment Federation, said: "Greenpeace might as well have shot itself in both feet. What it should be doing is stopping climate change, not creating more."

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