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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Greenpeace considers the climate change bill being drafted in the U.S. Senate a "baby step" that will not deliver needed change, but it will not campaign against it, the group's top executive said on Thursday.
U.S. senators led by Democrat John Kerry are expected to unveil next week a compromise bill to fight global warming that tries to bridge divides between industry and environmentalists after a previous effort failed.
Environmentalists are grappling with whether to back a bill they see as a compromise or to risk upsetting the fragile momentum of the U.S. climate change agenda by opposing it.
"This is a baby step in the right direction. It is in terms of what the world needs, it is, you know, too little too late," said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, which is known for confrontational tactics.
Passage of a bill may be difficult this year, with many senators expressing opposition to provisions that might be included. But progress on domestic global warming legislation could bolster international efforts to rein in carbon dioxide pollution.
Greenpeace broke with many well-known environmental groups last year by opposing a climate bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Naidoo spoke about respecting allies who are trying to get the best political solution possible. "Our intention is not to wage any kind of huge effort, because strategically it will just be counterproductive," he said in a conversation with Reuters and Earth Island Journal.
Greenpeace began decades ago as an anti-nuclear campaigner and gained attention trying to disrupt nuclear tests. It is now a global group focused partly on climate change. It still holds protests but also negotiates changes in policies with companies it criticizes.
Naidoo argued that Greenpeace and other environmental groups concerned with global warming needed to do a better job of mobilizing. He said they needed to make the stakes of climate change more accessible with a rallying cry of safeguarding the future for children instead of saving the planet, he said.
"Right now, I think if we are brutally honest with ourselves, a lot of us talk way above the people," he said, recalling a conversation with his brother who took him to task for talking about temperature degrees, percentages and parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Peter Cooney