Activist Tzeporah Berman steps out of the trees and into the boardroom – The Globe and Mail   Leave a comment

Now, after two decades as an activist, she has evolved again – and to much criticism from her own green community. In March 2010, she was appointed by Greenpeace to head up its largest project, the international climate and energy campaign. That resulted in a public lobbying and petition campaign against her called “Save Greenpeace.” The reason? She has gone from sitting in trees to sitting in boardrooms, negotiating with industry.

“She supports run-of-river power projects, which divert water to spin turbines and generate clean electricity – anathema to many environmentalists concerned about watersheds. She works with industry leaders, such as Avram Lazar, head of Forest Products Association of Canada, someone she calls “a champion on the inside,” to reach an agreement over logging of the boreal forest.

Still, her moral touchstones for negotiation are strict. “One is, ‘Are we stopping destruction that would happen if we didn’t?’ And the other is a bit harder to gauge. It’s the question, ‘Is it game-changing? Will it have a domino effect in the right direction?’ With the boreal agreement, we not only put a fence around the caribou habitat…we also bought some time and we got the industry to commit to a process where they have to take into consideration ecosystem-based management.”

Part of Ms. Berman‘s charm is her admission of weakness. She may be called an eco-warrior but she has moments of doubt. She has been to known lose hope, as she did following Bali negotiations in 2007 that failed to replace the Kyoto treaty on climate change. Global-warming experts declared that there were maybe 3,000 days left to save the Earth from apocalyptic shifts in weather. She realized that to make a difference, she had to learn issues about climate and energy, not just forestry, wood products and biodiversity.

“It was so depressing and I didn’t know what to do. Then I heard [American novelist] Barbara Kingsolver and she said, ‘Optimism is the only moral choice,’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s right.’ ” At the end of the interview, I wonder how her experience as a child shaped her sense of responsibility. When she was 14, her father died during heart surgery. Four months later, her mother died of cancer, leaving four children. Her older sister, then 21, became legal guardian. “We acted as a collective,” she explains. “My first meetings were dinner on Fridays when we would decide how much money we have and what we should spend it on.” She pauses. “It made me who I am, but I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.” The calm composure remains. “It was brutal.” ”

 

via Activist Tzeporah Berman steps out of the trees and into the boardroom – The Globe and Mail.

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Posted October 4, 2011 by arnoneumann in Environment

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