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Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

World

Greenpeace left red-faced after top official travel expose

AFP | Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014

A Greenpeace vessel docked in Valencia.

THE HAGUE - Anti-carbon advocate Greenpeace has grounded flights for a top official after a media report fingered him for commuting by plane between his Luxembourg home and its Amsterdam-based headquarters, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

A storm erupted Monday when British-based The Guardian newspaper revealed that Greenpeace's number two, Pascal Husting, opted to fly the 400 kilometres (250 miles) between work and home twice a month, rather than drive or take the train.

Greenpeace is a strong advocate against carbon dioxide emissions, including that resulting from air travel. It regularly urges airlines to end needless short-haul routes.

"He will no longer fly to get to Amsterdam. He's now travelling by train," Greenpeace spokesman Mike Townsley told AFP.

Husting, the environmental group's former director in France, became the organisation's deputy head in 2011. He asked not to move his young family to Amsterdam after taking the job, Townsley said.

Husting initially flew to the Dutch capital once a week, but later cut it to two trips per month.

"It was a difficult compromise for Pascal, he had a young family and his wife was pregnant," Townsley said, adding that Greenpeace supported the arrangement.

"At first it was a temporary solution, but it lasted longer than necessary," Townsley added.

Husting told the Dutch daily tabloid Algemeen Dagblad he had "moved twice in two years, and my children will be once again confronted with a new language." "I haven't flown in five years for any personal reasons," he added.

"I am very aware of carbon dioxide emissions and that airline traffic is one of the biggest-growing polluters." The revelation is the second controversy in two weeks to hit the environmental charity, better known for its daring actions at nuclear power plants and Arctic oil rigs to highlight dangers of environmental pollution.

Earlier this month Greenpeace said it fired an employee after he lost the group 3.8 million euros ($5.15 million) in a failed gamble on the international currency market.

John Sauven, Greenpeace's director in Britain, wrote in a blogpost on Greenpeace UK's website that the decision to allow Husting to fly is "a really tough one".

"What kind of compromises do you make in your efforts to try to make the world a better place?" he asked.

"It is very clear a lot of Greenpeace supporters feel this was the wrong decision," Sauven added.

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