By on August 10, 2011

Imagine what would have happened if someone would have done an “Imported from Detroit” persiflage as blatant as the one above. A horde of screeching lawyers waving court orders and threats of unspecified punitive damages would have descended on the authors. What did Volkswagen do? Volkswagen invited the creators of the movie to Wolfsburg for a chat over coffee and PowerPoints.

Greenpeace says Volkswagen is not doing enough to save the planet. Volkswagen on the other hand thinks the company is the epitome of environmental responsibility. Greenpeace wanted to discuss Volkswagen’s environmental record. The environmentalists received an invitation to Wolfsburg to see themselves. After they left, the attacks escalated, Volkswagen’s plant in Wolfsburg was picketed and the video went viral. And that’s just the beginning of a sordid story that has the pungent smell of a different kind of green …

“We had invited them to talk about what we do for the environment,” says Ines Roessler, spokesperson for environmental matters in Wolfsburg. “They came, we had a nice talk. They liked what they saw and they were impressed by the data we gave them.”

For instance,  Volkswagen pointed out that the Volkswagen Group has 116 models which emit less that 120 g CO2 / km. 20 are below 100g. A new EU edict requires a fleet average of 130 g CO2 / km by 2015. Greenpeace could have read that in Volkswagen’s 2010 Sustainability Report, which is available on-line.

Volkswagen had a dual water system (grey water for industrial use and flushing the toilet, clean water for drinking and brushing your teeth), and embarked on huge recycling campaigns in the middle of last century, when green still was a signal to floor the accelerator. Volkswagen was one of the first automakers to switch to water based paints to reduce VOC emissions. Before Greenpeace was founded, Volkswagen started its own Environmental Department, the world’s first automaker to do so. Why Greenpeace insists on singling out Volkswagen as an environmental serial killer is anybody’s guess. As our CAFÉ coverage has shown, there are other companies and cars with a carbon footprint bigger than bigfoot.

All this fell on deaf ears. Instead, after the amicable exchange of opinions, Greenpeace pulled out all stops and hit the company under the belt in a sensitive spot: At a demonstration in London, the company was depicted as bunch of stormtroopers.

“We were a little disappointed by this course of action,” says a very diplomatic Roessler.

In the meantime, Greenpeace tries to drum up support. It insinuates that Volkswagen is behind the disappearance of the video from YouTube.

“With no warning, YouTube pulled the film. Then other websites followed suit,” says Greenpeace, overlooking that its own site points to a functioning YouTube video.

Who’s kidding whom?

Greenpeace asks its supporters to “call on Volkswagen to clean up their act and support internet freedoms by sharing this film with your friends on Facebook.”

Volkswagen, through Roessler, emphatically denies having anything to do with any removal. Actually, it was, copyright rears its lawyerly head, Lucasfilm that had taken action.

As  further proof for the dangers of global warming, Greenpeace now treads on extremely thin ice. In its blog, Greenpeace says: “That’s why today we’ve gone a step further and setup our own video hosting – a ‘GreenpeaceTube’ if you like.”

Baloney. Greenpeace set up a site called “”, adorned with VW logos and a look and feel that would elicit long writs from trademark lawyers if a different company than Volkswagen would be at the receiving end. Depending on your choice of countries, sometimes the site plays a YouTube movie that allegedly had been censored by the Dark Side.  Sometimes, the site’s video player is an embed of Youku. Youku is the Chinese rip-off interpretation of YouTube.

“GreenpeaceTube” is a free spot on a server that is reported as being in Chaoyang, Guangdong Province, China.

Greenpeace decided to run its campaign from China, a country that usually gets blasted for having a questionable environmental record. Internet freedoms? Greenpeace infects the internet with its viral video spread from a country whose firewall is more famous than the Great Wall. The video is sent from a site which only exists because YouTube is banned in China.

When it comes to China, Greenpeace’s own environmental record becomes a bit murky. When Chinese rivers were poisoned, Greenpeace did not picket the Chinese polluters. Instead, it riled against deeper pocket customers of the poisoners. “The environmental pressure group has also linked hazardous textile plants in the Yangtze and Pearl river deltas to Lacoste, H&M and half a dozen other international fashion brands,” writes The Guardian. Lacoste is more likely to worry about the green sheen of its alligator. A Youngor in Ningbo would not be impressed by a Greenpeace.

It more and more seems that the focus of Greenpeace has shifted to another kind of green. Ron Arnold’s Green Tracking Library says that Greenpeace has been “hijacked from its original mission by extremists who have turned it into a shakedown group.” A Google search for “greenpeace AND blackmail” produces 2,640,000 hits.

This leaves us – how did Frau Roessler put it  – “a bit disappointed by this course of action.”

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15 Comments on “Greenpeace Slams Volkswagen – From A Server In China...”

  • avatar

    A pox on Greenpeace.

    They fail to understand that regulators and market forces already induce VW (and most others) to produce ever-greener products.

  • avatar

    Funny article.

  • avatar

    Let me get this straight, the Detroit 3 get railed for getting concessions on trucks in the latest CAFE numbers, but VW gets a pass for opposing stricter standards in Europe? In fact, it is Green Peace’s fault for not thinking VW is doing enough.

    Now, I personally don’t like Green Peace. But it seems amusing that it is ok for European standards to be opposed, but US standards are completely different.

  • avatar

    Greenpeace always was and is the No. 1 amongst attention-whoring NGOs. Why should they suddenly care for facts?
    Their business model is different. Live tax-free and make media-relevant noise. Then you’ll get the critical mass of idiots you need to pay you by tax-free contributions because they “want something to do for the environment”.
    The business model works. They will never run out of idiots.

  • avatar

    Greenpeace stopped being relevant decades ago. They were once fairly reasonable and served a certain purpose with true conviction. Now they have become an absurd parody of their former selves.

    Today they are just a collection of whiny hypocrites, as is so eloquently proven in the article above.

    They throw stones from glass houses – either at VW from China, or at Facebook when Greenpeace’s own website is hosted at a coal + nuke(!) powered datacenter. That they continue to do so from such shaky positions of their own goes to illustrate both how ignorant Greepeace is about energy & green “choices” (or lack thereof) we all face.

    (!) Greenpeace’s original core mission was anti-nuke.

  • avatar

    The fact that Greenpeace is against VW makes me want to go out and buy a VW.

  • avatar

    GreenPeace is operating a protection racket. They went to VW with a list of standard complaints and a not-so-veiled demand for money.

    VW didn’t pay up.

    GreenPeace now will try to damage and embarrass VW until they pay up enough money. GreenPeace then announces that VW is now ‘sensitive to their concerns’.

    Playing Poker with Ferdinand Piech is not very smart. Ask Porsche.

    On to the next target. Can you say “Renault-Nissan”?

    • 0 avatar

      Bingo, Zarba! Maybe GreenPeace hired some newly laid off operatives from ACORN. But does anyone really care? Must have been a slow news day.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t kid yourself. Piech looks out Piech. If he could have had a better personal outcome from Porsche taking-over VAG, then this is what he would have gone after instead…

  • avatar

    Green on the outside, Red in the middle – And I ain’t talking watermelons either.

  • avatar

    I guess Bertel didn’t read that GreenPeace is upset at VW for opposing the 2020 standards.

  • avatar

    Greenpeace went after VW for the same reason it went after Apple. It’s a high profile, successful company. No matter what they do it won’t be good enough.

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