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Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says the Charities Board decision not to grant the environmental organisation charity status is unsurprising given that the Board has resolutely opposed Greenpeace’s application all along, in spite of previously losing the battle in the Supreme Court.
“In a world facing catastrophic climate change and out of control water pollution, Greenpeace is a necessity, regardless of whether or not these three people on the Charities Board, appointed by the previous Government, agree with our advocacy,” he says.
“We are a proud independent environmental campaigning organisation that doesn’t take money from corporations or governments.
“We’re an organisation with the sole purpose of serving public interest by advocating for the environment that we’re all part of and depend upon. It speaks volumes about the values of the Charities Board that it believes that advocacy to save the planet from climate destruction doesn’t serve a charitable purpose.
“The Charities Board case has been a seven-year saga, which has bounced from the High Court, to the Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court, and then back to the Charities Board.
“The Supreme Court found that the Charities Board had got it wrong by declining Greenpeace’s application, and it directed the Board to reconsider Greenpeace’s application. But then the Charities Board just came up with a new shopping list of reasons for declining the application.
“The Supreme Court held that advocacy could be charitable. This decision today has essentially found that advocating for climate change action and clean rivers is not charitable, so it is hard to see what is acceptable advocacy. This will have a chilling effect right across the charitable sector and a negative impact on the quality of our democracy. Advocacy promoting different points of view is an essential part of of a healthy democracy.
“The new Government will need to look at this decision and this law, and decide whether they need to reform it to encourage democracy and advocacy, rather than discourage it.
“Like any NGO, we have to make the most of our limited resources and pick our battles. We are reviewing the decision and will decide the next steps in due course.
“It’s also important to remember that this decision has no impact on our donee status, so any donations will continue to be tax deductible for our supporters.
“Greenpeace may not be viewed a charity, but it is a necessity. In practice, the Board’s decision doesn’t change anything. We’re going to get on with doing the work that is a vital part of any democratic society: Advocating for our environment, and all of the people and creatures that call this planet home.”