Sunday, June 10, 2007

Agenda building is dangerous

Getting the public's attention on issues like global warming and the environment is not easy. In fact, agenda building can be an outright dangerous business. That's what Greenpeace activists learned when they tried to outrun German police boats during the G8 summit Germany in order to deliver a petition to the leaders of the world's richest nations, urging action on global warming.

Given the apparent lack of public attention to the negotiations in Heiligendamm, Greenpeace decided to go back to its roots and create some free media coverage by entering the restricted space around the summit with speedboats carrying "G8: Act Now!" banners. And the strategy worked.

In recent years, of course, Greenpeace had relied more and more on their extensive media contacts and fundraising machine rather than the often illegal and highly newsworthy run-ins with corporations and police that had established Greenpeae as one of the leading environmental organizations in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Greenpeace apparently decided that it would take more drastic measures again to get public attention away from TB travelers, incarcerated hotel heiresses, and the war in Iraq.

German police unfortunately refused to play along and arrested the protesters and confiscated their boats. But in the process they also produced spectacular and highly newsworthy crashes with two of the Greenpeace boats that ended up catapulting this issue into most of the evening news shows in Europe.

Here is Greenpeace's own description of what happened:
The Greenpeace speedboat action finished at 12pm this afternoon 24 Greenpeace activists came in 11 boats to the waters around the G8 summit, with the message "G8: Act Now!". In total 11 boats were involved, 5 inflatables, 2 inflatable catamarans and 2 six- metre long inflatables.

6 people were injured when they were knocked into the water by the police boat, they have bruises all over their bodies. One activist is being kept in hospital for further observation.


The activists tried to deliver a petition calling for clear commitments on climate change, which governments have so far failed to agree at this Summit.