Greg Bourne

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Greg Bourne is the chief executive of WWF Australia, a position he has held since October 2004. Prior to commencing with WWF Australia he was Regional President of BP Australasia. Greg is also on the National Advisory Committee for Environment Business Australia. [1]


"Bourne studied chemistry at the University of Western Australia under a scholarship from BP Refinery, Kwinana. After graduating with honours in 1971, he carried out research into refinery processes for two years at BP's Research Centre in Sunbury in England before joining BP Exploration as a Drilling Engineer in Abu Dhabi. His Exploration activities saw him living and working in the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Ireland, Brazil, China and Australia," a biographical note states. [2]

"Seconded to the Prime Minister's Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street in 1988, he was the Special Adviser on Energy and Transport, and returned to BP in January 1990 to take up the position of Chief Executive, BP Marine, London. He returned to Australia in October 1992 as President and General Manager - Exploration and Gas, BP Developments Australia Ltd., with responsibility for BP Exploration's activities in Australia and Papua New Guinea. After working overseas as Director BP Scotland and then Regional Director - Latin America, based in Caracas; he returned to Australia in January 1999 to become Regional President - BP Australasia the position from which he retired from BP in September 2003," his biographical note states. [3]

Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge

In February 2001, while running its Beyond Petroleum image campaign, BP's Executive John Browne publicly backed moves by the Bush administration to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling. [4] Environmental groups have been campaigning against mounting pressure from the oil industry to be allowed to explore for oil and gas in the reserve.

Greg Bourne, who was Regional President BP Australia and New Zealand, was asked at a mining industry conference by Bob Burton for Mining Monitor whether he considered BP's endorsement of drilling in the refuge as being consistent with the company’s advertising. "One thing we know we can do is we can work up there and work up there extremely well and we we’ve got many years experience working in Alaska and [we] don’t see an issue," he said. [5] (Pdf)

Bourne however preferred to see the decision to allow drilling in the reserve as an independent government decision rather than a response to lobbying by BP and others. "The decision to open it up firstly is a decision of the government of the United States and our view is that they will make that deliberation … Could we work well in the wildlife refuge? Absolutely sure we could but in the end it is a government decision. We will support the government looking at it and we are quite happy with that," he said. However, Bourne conceded that oil and gas production in the refuge would be of minor long term consequence for supplying the US demand for oil. "If they do go in and explore [that] only helps American imports for a few years not much more than that," he said. [6] (Pdf)

Uranium & Nuclear Power

In September 2004, just after commening in his new role as CEO of WWF Australia, was was asked in a radio interview "Is nuclear power one of the solutions to global warming?". While dismissing it as likely in Australia he said there would be increased number of nuclear power plants in countries such as India, Pakistan and China. "For every nuclear power station that they put in in China, is a coal power station not put in. ON balance, I personally think that is a good thing, others will think otherwise," he said. [7]

In a follow up question he was aked whether WWF's membership would approve of his statements in support of nuclear power. Bourne responded by stating that there would be substantial energy demand in developing countries and that he would put nuclear in the list of options after energy efficiency, solar energy, renewables and wind power. "Certainly nuclear will play its part; I don’t think it will play its part here in Australia," he said.[8]

In his 2005 Hawke Lecture Bourne endorsed, with qualifications, the continuation and expansion of uranium mining. "Australians are also the world’s second largest exporters of uranium into a growing world demand. Australia seems destined to continue mining and exporting but we should not be mining in fragile and endangered ecosystems. The Australian public needs to know that the uranium is being used for peaceful purposes, that the waste products are being stored safely and that proliferation cannot occur. We should demand that of our leaders and of the mining companies; it is not sufficient to just cross our fingers and hope," he said. [9]

In May 2006 Bourne told The Australian that "we have been mining uranium and exporting it for many years and we're doing more because demand is going up, whether people like it or not," he said. "The key issues are if we're going to be a nation exporting uranium, we have to know absolutely it's only being used for peaceful purposes and waste products are being stored safely." [10]

Several days after Bourne's first announcement, The Australian reported that Bourne was in London at WWF International's global energy taskforce and aimed to "overturn" the group's climate change policy policy. The policy states that "WWF does not believe that nuclear power is the solution to global warming. In fact, WWF has a vision for the future which phases out the use of fossil fuel and nuclear in the share of energy use across the globe." [11] The Australian also reported that in March 2006 Bourne "ordered the organisation's global anti-nuclear policy be removed from WWF Australia's website." [12]

WWF has received funding from a range of mining companies including Rio Tinto, one of the world's biggest uranium mining companies. In 2000, Rio donated A$1.2million to a four-year long WWF Australia project on frogs. [13]

Guide To Ethical Living

In a feature article discussing options for how individuals could live an ethical, Bourne was one of four individuals asked for their top five "suggestions for ethical living". In contrast to the others, who emphasised reducing consumption and becoming advocates, Bourne heavily emphasized what individuals could do as investors and consumers. "Make investments in society and the environment through prescribed private funds", buying hybrid cars and solar panels, and making "your house or houses" more "energy efficient but still luxurious." [14]

Other SourceWatch Resources


  1. Council Members, National Environmental Education Council, accessed September 30, 2007.
  2. Advisory Board, The Natural Edge Project, accessed May 29, 2008.
  3. BHP Billiton Members, organizational web page, accessed September 30, 2012.

External Resources

Biographical notes

Articles, Speeches & Interviews

General Articles