Philip Radford, stepping down from Greenpeace USA

23 January 2013 – Here’s a plum job for ambitious greenies everywhere, the top spot at Greenpeace USA, based in Washington, after current executive director Philip Radford said he would step down in April.

In the past five years Radford had led Greenpeace to “game-changing victories” for the forests, climate and oceans, a Greenpeace media statement said on Thursday.

These include serious inroads with major influential corporates such as Apple and Facebook to source more renewable energy, and with the massive paper corporation APP (Asia Pulp and Paper) to take action to “end deforestation”, which put pressure on consumer brands such as Mattel and Hasbro that sourced product from APP.

The APP campaign in particular was cited by the New York Times as “Activism at its Best” and “exemplified Greenpeace’s work to fight global corporations with global grassroots networks and coalitions”, a Greenpeace USA media statement said.

Other achievements included more than 20 per cent of “red list” fish taken off the shelves of supermarkets in the US, and in coal, with campaigns to “stop coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest and working alongside communities to shut down coal plants like the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago, as well as other coal plants around the country”.

And there were structural and financial gains, as well. The group grew to one million members in the US, had close to $42 million in annual income and an 80 per cent increase in net income.

Despite the failure of broad based global political agreements to combat climate change, this list of achievements attributed to Radford’s influence is encouraging for all activist organisations and makes his job a tough gig to follow.

Particularly interesting is that Bill McKibben, president and co-founder of 350.org, said that during Radford’s term Greenpeace had helped the whole environmental movement “shift back towards its roots: local, connected, tough”.

It’s the thinking that we picked up in conversation with Monica Richter, former cities campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation, now with the WWF, on how environmental organisations could combat the inroads made in media and public thinking by well funded climate deniers.

Mr Radford directly contributed to grass roots change with alliances and strong collaboration with progressive groups, including co-founding the Democracy Initiative.

There was no indication of what Mr Radford would take up for his next challenge.