New Greenpeace Chief Says Bush Risking Earth's Future

LONDON, United Kingdom, August 21, 2001 (ENS) - Greenpeace's recently appointed executive director Gerd Leipold, has criticized President George W. Bush for putting the world's future at risk with a "truly astonishing policy path that could undo so much progress in environmental protection and world peace."

Speaking last week at the launch of the international environmental organization's Annual Report, Dr. Leipold said that in pursuing the Star Wars missile defense program, rejecting the Kyoto climate change agreement and threatening to open the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Reserve to oil exploitation, President Bush is failing to protect the environment to satisfy his corporate supporters.

Leipold

Dr. Gerd Leipold, a meterologist, is the new Greenpeace executive director. (Photo courtesy GEM Partners)
Leipold was particularly critical of the harsh conspiracy charges brought by the United States against 15 Greenpeace activists and two journalists whose protest delayed a test of the U.S. missile defense system at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base July 14.

"The charges have a strong political motivation to them," De. Leipold said. All face up to six years in jail if convicted. Previous charges against protesters at Vandenberg have not been of a criminal nature. "It is Star Wars that should be on trial. Our activists were there because Greenpeacers care."

Leipold said Greenpeace had started in 1971 with a protest against U.S. nuclear weapons testing and has continued for the last 30 years, challenged all those threatening to damage the planet.

With 25 national offices and a presence in 39 countries, Greenpeace now has 2.65 million paying supporters.

Leipold said the group's commitment to the developing world continues with two offices - India and Southeast Asia - beginning to campaign last year. Greenpeace China and Argentina are now financially self sufficient.

Dr. Gerd Leipold originally studied physics in Munich, Germany then went on to receive his doctorate in meteorology from Max-Planck-Institut in Hamburg where he was doing climate research.

He founded GEM Partners in 1993 as a consultancy company serving non-governmental organisations, intergovernmental agencies and the private sector on strategy and communication.

Dr. Leipold was director of Greenpeace Germany from 1983 to 1987 and director of the disarmament campaigns of Greenpeace International from 1987 to 1992. His Greenpeace actions have including flying over the Berlin Wall with a hot air balloon and going to the French test site in Mururoa to protest nuclear weapons testing. He has been living in London since 1990.