A group of property developers in La Manga del Mar Menor (Murcia) are demanding that the environmental organisation Greenpeace pay them more than 20 million Euros in compensation for sinking the local property market and causing “prices to plunge by up to 50%”.
The developers accuse Greenpeace of unduly scaring buyers by publishing doctored photos showing the expected effects of rising sea levels on the La Manga strip. The pictures suggest that much of the La Manga strip will be under water if sea levels rise by 0.5 metres, which Greenpeace argues is an “optimistic and conservative” scenario if steps are not taken to head off global warming.
“Greenpeace has manipulated the expected rise, of half a meter, to create alarm,” says Jose Angel Abad, the lawyer representing the developers. “They have sunk the property market: nobody is buying, and everyone is trying to sell.” The developers are threatening to sue Greenpeace for hundreds of millions of Euros if Greenpeace does not agree to their demands for compensation.
Greenpeace argues that the developers are trying to blame Greenpeace for a collapse in the market brought about by their own speculative greed.
“This is unacceptable blackmail,” says Juan López de Uralde, managing director of Greenpeace in Spain. “They are trying to make Greenpeace pay the consequences for the damage they have wrought on La Manga. Be in no doubt that we will not be intimidated by this kind of despicable behaviour.”
Greenpeace originally published the photos in November 2007 in a book called Photoclima, showing the potentially devastating effects of global warming and rising sea levels on the Spanish coast. The flooding scenarios are based on a study by Spain’s ministry of the environment and the University of Castilla-La Mancha, involving several experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Along with the La Manga Strip of the Mar Menor, other Spanish coastal areas at risk of flooding from rising sea levels include the Ebro River Delta, Cabo de Gata in Almeria, and large parts of the Costa de la Luz.