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They said it couldn't be done. They said you couldn't change Japanese attitudes to eating seafood. They laughed when we said we planned to change the way some of Japan's biggest corporations, retailers, wholesalers and restaurants buy their seafood. Last week, we proved the doubters wrong.
Following a committed campaign by Greenpeace in Japan, and because of growing consumer awareness and concern about seafood sustainability, last week Japan's biggest retailer, AEON, announced several important commitments as part of a new policy designed to massively improve the environmental performance of the business. First and foremost amongst those commitments is an agreement to eliminate the illegal trading, harvesting and fishing of seafood from its supply chains.
From face to face meetings, publishing comparative retailer rankings on seafood sustainability, delivering consumer voices to the company's decision-makers and much else besides, our patient but determined campaign in Japan has won out, bringing this huge corporation around to commit to delivering sustainable seafood and other important environmental standards.
Our campaign and AEON's new commitment comes in the context of rapidly changing views and attitudes to seafood sustainability in Japan. Seafood consumption in Japan remains extremely high, but slowly consumers are beginning to understand that if they want to ensure the fish they eat is available into the future, then action needs to be taken now, not just by individual consumers, but also by the many businesses that fish, farm and sell seafood. As the country's largest retailer, AEON's progressive new commitment will mark the company out as a leader on seafood sustainability in Japan.
Of course the hard work starts here. With AEON's commitments to sustainable seafood procurement in place, the company now needs to begin the process of laying down a structured and transparent timetable for making these changes to its supply chains so that its own consumers (and Greenpeace campaigners!) can see that it is really delivering change.
Our work in Japan is part of a wider international campaign to improve seafood sustainability and transform key global fisheries such as the tuna fishing industry. This work is to ensure that they are operated sustainably. In Japan, we have been encouraging major retailers and tuna industry to make commitments to phase out wasteful and destructive fishing methods – and with considerable success! Today, we have major retailers and brands already sourcing or committed to sourcing sustainable tuna in countries around the world including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
The news from AEON last week is not the end of a process but the start of a very important one. The doubters said we had no chance of changing corporate behavior in Japan, that public interest and demand for sustainable seafood would not come. They were wrong. The challenge of creating a sustainable seafood industry in Japan is on!
Oliver Knowles is an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace International.
The 30 individuals are requesting "just compensation" from the Russian Federation, and importantly, a statement from the independent Court saying that their apprehension in international waters by Russian agents and subsequent detention were unlawful.
The European Court has the power to hold Russia to account for the months of uncertainty the Arctic 30 faced in Russia. While held in detention centres they lived with the fear that they could spend years locked up for a crime they did not commit. The European Court has jurisdiction over matters involving alleged human rights violations committed by Russia. In many cases Russia has been found liable for such violations and ordered to compensate victims. Ultimately, this case aims to ensure Russia lives up to its human rights commitments.
The Arctic 30 were abducted and forcibly detained by armed Russian agents following a peaceful protest against oil drilling in pristine Arctic waters. During the protest, two unmarked inflatables appeared from the Russian Federal Security Service vessel Ladoga, each manned with at least three Russian State agents in balaclavas with weapons. The Russian agents threw ropes at the propellers of the Greenpeace inflatables. The lines hit some of the activists. The agents proceeded to threaten the activists with guns and knives. Several of the Greenpeace inflatables were punctured with knives.
Once the protest ended, the activists, with the exception of the two brave climbers who were apprehended by Russian agents near the platform, returned to the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise. The Russian agents' violent response breached their rights to freedom of expression and has a chilling effect on future peaceful protests aimed at protecting the Arctic.
What followed was a gross violation of the right to liberty. The next day, armed agents of the Russian Federal Security Service boarded the Arctic Sunrise from a helicopter and detained the individuals on board. The Arctic Sunrise was in the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation in the Pechora Sea and outside of the Russian-declared three nautical miles' exclusion zone around the oil platform, Prirazlomnaya, which was the target of the protest.
While the Greenpeace ship was being towed to a Russian port by the Russian Authorities, the Arctic 30 were detained onboard without charge for more than five days. The Arctic 30 were threatened with weapons if they did not follow the orders of the Russian agents. They were searched and locked in their cabins or other premises on the Arctic Sunrise. All communication devices were taken from them. No movements were possible without the authorisation of the Russian agents. The authorities provided unfounded legal grounds for the detention only after arriving at a Murmansk port. All 30 were charged with piracy.
Their ordeal became even worse. The activists were locked up in some of Russia's most notorious detention facilities for more than two months. This is despite the fact that the head of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation issued a ruling half-way through their time behind bars that the ground for detention, piracy, was determined to be an improper charge, and a decision was made to reclassify the crime to hooliganism. The activists remained behind bars for another month, until finally being released on bail. On Christmas Day 2013, the Investigative Committee officials informed the Arctic 30 that their hooliganism charges were dropped as a result of a recently adopted amnesty decree. They were finally free to return home to their families.
Russia's unlawful actions forever changed their lives. During the protest their safety was put at risk. While on board the Arctic Sunrise as it was being towed to a Russian port they were detained without legal grounds and no opportunity to go before a judge. In detention they faced spending a decade or more behind bars for a crime they didn't commit – a crime that sadly Russian authorities even admitted they couldn't possibly have committed.
The Arctic 30 are not criminals. They are peaceful protesters, journalists and environmental human rights defenders. As the saying 'the millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine' goes, we anticipate that ultimately the European Court will order Russia to compensate the 30 and declare that their rights to freedom of expression and liberty were violated by Russia.
Sergey Golubok is a legal representative for the Arctic 30 before the European Court, and Kristin Casper is Legal Counsel for campaigns & actions at Greenpeace International.
"The government secretariats of SAGARPA (Ministry of Agriculture) and SEMARNAT (Ministry of Environment) must guarantee that no genetically engineered (GE) soy will be grown in the state of Campeche starting from the 7th of March 2014".
This is the verdict of the Second District Court which granted protection to Mayan indigenous communities in the state of Campeche, Yucatan. The decision is based on the fact that the authorization to trade GE soy by Monsanto violates the right to prior and informed consultation guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution and goes against the local communities' right to decide on what grows on their land.
The communities of Pack-Chen and Cancabchen, together with the Apícola de los Chenes Collective, Indignación A.C., Educe S.C. De R.L., and partners from the MA OGM Collective, led the process which resulted in this important victory for all Mayan and Mexican people.
We at Greenpeace welcome the court decision, as the introduction of GE crops would harm the environment and put at risk farmers and communities' livelihoods.
"This verdict establishes the right of the Mayan people to be consulted and decide over projects that affect their communities and their territory', said in a statement the communities and organizations responsible for the litigation. The growth of monoculture in the Yucatán Peninsula is displacing Mayan people from the region where they live and develop important activities related to beekeeping, maize production and others.
This is a big step forward towards a more ecological ways of farming. We must keep fighting for a Mexico which guarantees the production of healthy food, respecting the environment and the rights of indigenous communities who guard the country's biodiversity and hold the traditional knowledge on how to cultivate the land. Agriculture must be at the service of people and farmers, not the economic interests of large multinational corporations.
Silvia Díaz Pérez is a Food and Agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace Mexico.
For the past four years I've been visiting the beautiful country of Greenland, trying to prevent dangerous oil drilling that would cause havoc to the unique and fragile wildlife and nature here.
But ever since I started working in the cold north, the people who live here, who have an inherent right to the lands and oceans, have asked me again and again what kind of future Greenpeace sees for them. They ask if we believe all of Greenland and its inhabitants should live in a 'natural museum' without any opportunities for development. These people are concerned because they have a strong desire for development in Greenland, to see the country and its people grow.
I strongly believe that oil drilling in the Arctic is a bad idea and a reckless course that can only lead to disaster – not only for the environment, but also for the many communities and people that depend on the oceans.
I also believe that Greenpeace can be part of the solution. We have to make sure we're helping finding solutions to the complex problems at hand as well – not only for the environment, but also for the people, who are facing hard choices about industrial development in this beautiful country.
In Greenland there is a tendency to label all criticism of large-scale projects – be it oil drilling or mining – as anti-development. This makes it hard to have a more fundamental discussion of the path Greenland should choose
So in the summer of 2013 we commissioned a report from a major Danish consultancy company, Ramboll. We asked them to look at the different possibilities for development in Greenland. The consultancy spent more than 6 months looking at the major sectors in Greenland (fisheries, tourism, mining, sealing and agriculture), and has spent large resources on analyzing and identifying tools, which can help increase the generation of local income and job creation.
Before we commissioned the report, I was very nervous for the result. We didn't control the process and the consultancy could in principle have concluded that the increasing gap in the Greenlandic economy only could be covered via reckless oil drilling and heavily polluting mining projects. Fortunately, this is far from the case. Instead the report shows that there is a vast potential for a more sustainable development, socially, economically and environmentally.
By using these tools, the national income from key sectors (especially fisheries, tourism and limited mining) can increase by more than 50% within the next ten years.
Today Ramboll will present the report in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, and afterwards I will engage in a public debate with representatives from the industry, as well as the head of the local environmental organization, Avataq, the minister for treasury and other leading politicians. I look forward to hearing which recommendations they find compelling, and to discussing whether there is any real need for oil exploration in Greenland.
The report is of course not the entire solution, and even within the suggestions there are pitfalls, which needs to be taken seriously. But I sincerely hope that the report can help move the discussion away from pro- or anti-development towards a new conversation. We need to start talking about how to achieve sustainable development for the benefit of all Greenlanders, with a respectful and cautious approach towards the incredible Arctic nature I see all around me.
The English version of the report can be found here.
Tonight I’ll sleep well, knowing that there is finally something happening within the international community about protecting the Arctic.
It’s not going to change things overnight, but it’s very positive, and something that our movement of over five million people can be proud of.
So what just happened?
The European Parliament today passed a Resolution promoting strong protection of the environment of the Arctic region. They called for (among other things) the establishment of a Sanctuary in the high seas region around the North Pole.
This is a massive step forward for our campaign! It’s the second sign, after Finland also supported the idea of an Arctic sanctuary, of a growing international movement that wants permanent protection of one of the largest and least exploited areas on Earth: a 2.8 million square kilometre zone of the global commons. That would be the biggest conservation zone in existence, protecting fish stocks, ice-dependent species, and a huge variety of cold water species.
The Arctic Ocean remains the least protected area on the planet. It seems extraordinary that nations who profess strong conservation ethics have completely failed to protect such crucial parts of their own backyards.
It also calls for measures to prevent fishing in the Arctic high seas. These kinds of measures were rejected only two weeks ago by the five countries who control the waters. They failed to secure an agreement to limit fishing, and simply asked countries to obey (non-existent) rules. There is a clear need to go much further, before the huge industrial trawlers move in, but it’s progress.
Finally, the Resolution calls for something that is blinding obvious but completely absent from conversation inside the Arctic Council or the coastal states: a binding agreement to prevent pollution from ships and oil rigs. How they have been able to get away with voluntary, industry-friendly ‘codes of conduct’ for so long is extraordinary.
There is one dark cloud. The document asks for a ‘precautionary approach’ to energy exploitation in the Arctic, but from where we’re sitting that should mean only one thing: no drilling at all. If you’re serious about protecting this fragile, vulnerable ecosystem then it’s madness to allow oil platforms and giant drilling ships anywhere near it. To paraphrase Beyonce, if you like it then you shouldn’t put a rig on it.
This is clearly not the end. EU foreign ministers have work to do. The European Parliament rightly pointed out that the ministers haven’t responded to a policy proposal by the European Commission and the EU External Action Services from 2012. Actually, since 2009, EU foreign ministers haven’t really done anything on the Arctic. The ministers, and EU high representative Catherine Ashton, should engage in the international debate on the Arctic before it’s too late.
So now the question becomes what impact, both within Europe and beyond its borders, the resolution has. I’m sure the coastal states will publicly behave politely but privately fume. Instead they should see the writing on the wall and understand that no one is threatening their sovereignty, just their approach. The Arctic Ocean is unique, productive, and beautiful. It should stay that way.
Neil Hamilton is a Senior Political Advisor Polar at Greenpeace Norway.
Tropical forests are home to more species than nearly any other ecosystem on the planet, but increasingly this biodiversity is threatened. When forest is cleared, there is a reduction in forest area, which affects biodiversity.
There is also another highly damaging impact that is less obvious: fragmentation. This is when the remaining areas of forest become broken up into isolated patches or fragments. This fragmentation directly harms many species and alters the environmental conditions within the forest. Indirectly, fragmentation also disrupts important interactions between species, which can dramatically affect forest ecosystems.
A new review by Greenpeace, entitled Tropical Forest Fragmentation; Implications for Ecosystem Function, summarises the ecosystem impacts of tropical forest fragmentation including pollination, seed dispersal and, importantly, the implications of predator (tigers, jaguars etc.) loss on ecosystems.
Forest fragmentation can affect the pollination of trees and dispersal of their seeds, both of which are vital for tree reproduction. Long distance pollination is necessary to connect tree populations in separate forest fragments but many insect pollinators, such as orchid bees, will not even cross gaps as narrow as 100 metres.
Fragmentation can disrupt seed dispersal by animals. This is important since, in some tropical regions, up to 90% of tree species are dispersed by animals. Large-seeded trees are particularly vulnerable because fragmentation can cause the loss of nearly all animals large enough to dispersing large seeds (e.g. forest elephants). For example, forest fragments in Mexico had virtually no large-animal seed dispersers, causing the survival of seeds from large-seeded trees to drop by approximately 50%. Hence, fragmentation can have a large negative impact on tree reproduction.
Large predators, such as tigers threatened by expansion of palm oil plantations in Sumatra, are very susceptible to fragmentation and are often absent from a fragmented forest. The loss of top predators can trigger a "trophic cascade" (knock-on effects to the food web of an ecosystem) where populations of species lower down the food chain multiply out of control. This has been seen from grazing animals (herbivores) such as wild pigs, leaf-cutter ants and rodents, with densities becoming 10-100 times higher than in intact forest. Fragmentation-induced trophic cascades can have catastrophic impacts on tropical forests worldwide, showing the presence of top predators to be a fundamental component of a functional, healthy tropical forest ecosystem.
There is a growing recognition of the important role played by predators in regulating ecosystems, not only in tropical forests but also in other ecosystems. Scientists studying the ecological effects of the re-introduction of grey wolves in Yellowstone Park, USA in 1995/6 have seen a “trophic cascade” unfold. Although the evidence is not definitive, it seems that the wolves have kept elk populations in check, allowing trees such as aspen, cottonwoods and willow to regenerate. The greater abundance of willow trees along streams has encouraged beaver populations. Beavers build dams to create pools, which maintain stream flows in the drier months and provide cool, shaded waters for fish. The increase in trees provides more habitats for birds. Thus, the reintroduction of wolves appears to have caused a whole range of effects down the food web, a trophic cascade, creating a more diverse (and healthier?) ecosystem. This story is told in a short video narrated by the environment journalist George Monbiot.
It’s clear that fragmentation strongly alters many aspects of ecosystem function, which could reduce the stability and resilience of forest ecosystems. Whether higher biodiversity such as top predators leads to more robust ecosystem functioning has long been debated. Recent research is increasingly showing this to be the case, providing further evidence that fragmentation must be avoided to preserve healthy ecosystem function.
Finally, fragmentation increases the vulnerability of tropical forests to other threats, such as increasing the accessibility of previously remote areas of forest to hunters and agricultural settlers, while reducing the resilience of forest ecosystems to invasive species. This means once the fragmentation process has begun, it may be difficult to prevent it from continuing. Therefore, a precautionary approach is needed where intact areas of primary forests are protected from fragmentation.
Dr. Janet Cotter is a Senior Scientist at the Greenpeace International Science Unit.
“Forgetting Fukushima makes it more likely that such a nuclear disaster could happen elsewhere,” said Mrs Tatsuko Okawara, one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Fukushima accident that began on 11 March 2011.
Though she is right, the world still seems to forget.
The nuclear industry is trying its hardest to make us forget by downplaying the impacts of the accident, ignoring the fact that the Fukushima reactors are still not under control and claiming that lessons have been learned. Nothing is further from the truth.
So business continues as usual and in many countries the same mistakes are being made that played a role in Fukushima. These are systemic failures linked to the nuclear sector, such as a lack of independent regulators, no accountability, putting profits before the protection of people, insufficient emergency planning and the continued belief in a nuclear safety paradigm that has been proven wrong.
A truly independent nuclear regulator is a rarity as most are closely connected to the sector that they should control. And at the same time, decisions are made on the basis of politics and economics, rather than people and their safety.
The nuclear industry still benefits from a liability system that shields them from carrying responsibility for the risks and damages they create. Big companies harvest large profits, while the moment things go wrong, it is the society and people who need to deal with the losses and damages. Those who are paying for Fukushima are the many thousands of citizens who lost their livelihoods; whose communities and families have been broken up; whose children cannot play outside because radiation levels are too high. The people who are paying are the Japanese people whose tax money is being used to deal with the crippled Fukushima reactors and clean up of the contaminated areas.
We were led to believe that the probability of a severe nuclear accident like Chernobyl was virtually insignificant. But looking at the real world, the evidence shows the frequency of reactor meltdowns is approximately once in every decade. Still, the nuclear sector uses the same probability assessments and procedures that were proven entirely wrong. Regulators continue to hesitate to properly act to reduce reactor risks, because stricter regulations would make the nuclear industry unprofitable.
The world is still running more than 400 inherently dangerous nuclear reactors and continues to build dozens more. Millions of people are at risk because, as Fukushima has shown, the radioactive contamination does not stop at a distance of 10 or 20 kilometres, which is the border of the officially designated evacuation zones. And still, nobody is prepared to handle a large-scale nuclear accident when people may need to be evacuated even hundred kilometres away from the nuclear power plant.
Nuclear energy is not a necessary evil, because affordable, safer and cleaner energy solutions exist. They are only a matter of political choice.
That’s why we must not forget Fukushima. We must listen to those who suffer from the accident. We must remember, learn and act to build a better world.
Dr. Rianne Teule is a Campaigns Director & nuclear expert at Greenpeace Belgium.
Here’s how two different corporations respond to a consumers’ very real and very serious concerns…
One makes a clear promise with ambitious time lines; the other continues as if it’s business as usual. This is the difference between Mars and Procter & Gamble.
Today Mars promised to remove forest destruction from all of its products by the end of 2015.
People like you want their products to be made without the sort of destruction that drives tigers and orangutan’s to the edge of extinction. And when you all speak with one voice, this is the result. Mars joins a growing list of companies that are committing to cleaning up their supply chains: Nestle, Unilever, L’Oreal, Ferrero – check them out here.
But this should be a wake up call for the folks at P&G.
Ever since we revealed how P&G is sourcing dirty palm oil from forest destruction, its spokespeople have offered no real solution. Instead, they have recycled the same old lines about being committed to so called “sustainability”. And with every company that commits to No Deforestation, P&G’s “sustainability” policy is looking more and more shaky. As our activists in Indonesia showed today, this is what “sustainability” means for P&G...
Greenpeace activists hold a banner inside palm oil consession owned by PT Multi Persada Gatramegah (PT MPG), a subsidiary of Musim Mas company, a palm oil supplier to Procter and Gamble in Muara Teweh, North Barito, Central Kalimantan. 10/03/2014
This morning, a dozen activists unfurled a giant banner in a plantation owned by Musim Mas – a company we identified as a supplier to P&G and involved in ongoing forest and orangutan habitat clearance. This is not “sustainable” – at least not for the half a million of you who have already called for forest-friendly products.
A Greenpeace activist holds a banner inside palm oil consession owned by PT Multi Persada Gatramegah (PT MPG), a subsidiary of Musim Mas company, a palm oil supplier to Procter and Gamble in Muara Teweh, North Barito, Central Kalimantan. 10/03/2014
What should P&G do?
P&G must join other companies like Nestle, Unilever, Ferrero, L’Oreal and now Mars which have committed to No Deforestation policies. These companies recognise that the body P&G relies on to certify “sustainably sourced” palm oil – the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – is not enough.
As my colleague in the US, Joao, recently said, blindly trusting the RSPO, like P&G does, is like buying a used car without checking it out first. You might just end up with a lemon. In this case, P&G doesn’t even seem to care enough to investigate its own claims.
Areeba Hamid is a forest campaigner at Greenpeace International
Last Friday, GAP officially opened its first ever store here in Taiwan. Not wanting to miss out on the party, we decided to mark the occasion by giving GAP a little reminder of its unresolved toxic problems. As the ribbon was cut at the sparkling new store in Taipei, Greenpeace East Asia activists stole the spotlight, dropping a banner to deliver the demand of Greenpeace and GAP’s customers around the world: we won’t accept toxic fashion, it’s time to Detox.
It has been 971 days since the release of the first Dirty Laundry report into the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry and since then GAP has been implicated in toxic water scandals from China to Mexico. More recently, our Polluting Paradise report revealed the brand’s ties to a supplier in Indonesia found to be releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the local water supply, the Citarum River.
Despite these scandals, GAP still refuses to sign a credible comittment to rid its clothes of these toxic monsters.
Leaders and Laggards
Over the last four years, the Detox campaign has shown that the fashion industry can lead the way to a toxic-free future. 19 global brands, from budget giant Primark to luxury labels like Valentino, have already made lasting commitments to Detox. What’s more, most of them are taking action – starting to disclose information on the release of hazardous chemicals in their supply chain, and laying out credible timelines for the elimination of priority substances.
Unfortunately, GAP’s actions (or lack of) to date have shown them up to be a toxic-addicted laggard. Though the company claims to be cleaning up its act, hiding behind the paper commitments of the ineffective Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals industry group, there is still a clear gap between GAP's words and its actions.
Corporations and Legislation
Only with a combination of responsible corporate action from brands like GAP, and strong government legislation to create a level playing field in the industry, can we put a stop to the pollution of our global waterways.
Here in Taiwan, the government recently took an important first step to recognise that we all deserve to live in a future free from hazardous chemicals by passing the landmark Taiwan Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (TW-TSCA). While there is still more to do, from implementing a registration system to ensuring industry transparency, this piece of legislation represents a critical move for Taiwan on its pathway to a toxic-free future.
We have shown time and time again that change only happens when people stand up and speak out. Brands like Zara, Levi’s and Burberry listened to their customers and are now acting on our demands.
Isn't it time GAP also recognised the urgency of this situation, taking meaningful action to clean up its supply chain on behalf of its new customers here in Taiwan and those all over the world?
Send GAP your own message and tell the brand to become the fashion-forward company its customers expect it it to be.
Rose Lai is a Detox Campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia and Ashov Birry is a Detox Campaigner with Greenpeace South East Asia.
Today is a milestone in the movement to Protect Paradise.
Half a million of you have joined the call demanding forest-friendly products – and we're just getting started!
In the last two weeks, you have been part of something big. From aerial acrobats, to street petitions, and this hearbreaking video – we are challenging the maker of Head & Shoulders, Procter & Gamble, to end its role in forest destruction.
A team of Greenpeace volunteers set up a division lobby at the entrance to Saatchi and Saatchi’s London offices. The advertising agency promotes Head & Shoulders shampoo for Procter & Gamble. 03/07/2014Greenpeace activists protest at Procter & Gamble's global headquarters calling attention to the company's link to tropical deforestation. 03/04/2014
A Greenpeace activist dressed as tiger gives out information at Stureplan in Stockholm, Sweden, on rainforest destruction caused by palm oil production. 02/26/2014
Greenpeace activist in Germany protests with an image of Head & Shoulders shampoo, made by P&G, while talking to a P&G employee. 02/26/2014
Despite all this, P&G is trying to pretend it doesn't have a problem. Almost a quarter of a million of us have emailed its CEO, and we've all been ignored. Despite all the evidence, P&G still insists that buying palm oil from companies that destroy orangutan habitat is sustainable.
Let’s take a look at what they say here...
P&G says it is committed to "sustainable" palm oil. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, which P&G relies on, has long been known to not ban deforestation. What’s more, all the orangutan habitat destruction we found was located in plantations owned by RSPO members – does this mean they too are sustainable? Clearly not.
P&G says it is serious about deforestation. Really? How serious can you be if your suppliers clear thousands of hectares of orangutan habitat, and you don't have a policy in place to guarantee this won't happen? If competitors like L’Oreal, Unilever and Nestle can move beyond the RSPO and commit to No Deforestation then so can P&G.
P&G says it will investigate the suppliers we identified. Um, ok? But what we investigated was just a snapshot of the destruction caused by palm oil. And simply investigating these cases won’t guarantee that your products are free from forest destruction. To prevent this from happening again, P&G needs to get serious and make a commitment to No Deforestation.
We are not going away. Powered by half a million, we are saying enough is enough: don’t make me part of forest destruction through the products I use every day.
Areeba Hamid is a forest campaigner at Greenpeace International
The massive opposition to genetically engineered (GE) crops in India has almost entirely stopped the entry of this risky and unwanted technology into our farms and plates. But the proponents of this technology and their cronies are determined to shove GM crops down our throats despite the growing scientific evidence questioning the safety of this technology to our health, the environment and farmers' livelihoods.
Three days ago, India's Environment Minister, Veerappa Moily, approved over 200 GE field trial applications that were put on hold by former Environment Ministers in the past. He did this in a very unaccountable manner; assuring the country that it would cause no harm to the environment even though crops like rice and wheat approved for GE field trials are a staple in the country. Contamination of these crops with GE, and the hazardous chemicals they bring with them, is a huge threat to our food system. There are several cases already of experimental GE crops escaping from field trials and ending up in our food.
The former Environment Ministers of India, Jairam Ramesh, followed by Jayanthi Natrajan have taken a precautionary approach to the environmental release of GE crops. In fact, Natrajan has also gone so far as to pause GE field trials which were approved by the infamous regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in 2013. This was done for good reason, as there is a pending Supreme Court case on the safety of GE field trials and also mounting evidence on the inefficiency and inadequacy of the Indian regulator to control these risky GE crops.
However, the current government has turned a blind eye to the dangers of contamination from GE crop field trials as well as the instances of failure of the GEAC. They have taken a drastic step, right before the national elections, of bringing in Veerappa Moily as Environment Minister. Judging from Moily's track record, which had always favoured corporate interests, one could only imagine the fate of the environment under his short stint in the Environment Ministry.
In his new post Moily has clearly not caught up with the history of debate around GE crops in the country. The moratorium on Bt Brinjal after it was approved by the regulator is evidence that citizens of India , farmers and consumers alike, have rejected GE crops. Furthermore the science is clearly divided on this issue as we have seen in the case of the final report of the scientific panel appointed by the Hon. Supreme Court, Technical Expert Committee (TEC). The TEC has strongly recommended a precautionary approach to GE crops and a moratorium on field trials till we don't have a regulator in place that can ensure biosafety.
Civil society protested outside the Environment Ministry yesterday and accused Moily of selling our nation to biotech multinationals by giving them a free reign over our food security. Moily cannot get away with approving 200 GE field Trials without an explanation of his irresponsible action.
The Minister must have felt the heat with elections around the corner and people demanding their right to safe food from the larger political parties. But Moily betrayed the country by choosing corporate interests over people's interest and thereby putting at risk one of the most important national treasures, our seed sovereignty. It is clear that the Indian voter has no confidence in GE crops and its high time the political fraternity show their commitment to safe food and farms. Alternatives exist – its high time the government starts putting significant support behind ecological farming solutions which support smallholder farmers and provide healthy food without relying on GE crops, chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
Neha Saigal is a Senior Campaigner, Food & Agriculture at Greenpeace India
Today 240 activists are taking action across Europe to highlight the risk of ageing nuclear reactors.
There's an ongoing action inside Tihange in Belgium. In Switzerland activists have unfolded banners inside the Beznau II, the oldest nuclear power plant in Europe. They also flew over with a paraglider and simultaneously in Sweden a banner was hung from the reactor roof top of Oskarshamn 2.
So why are hundreds of Greenpeace activists taking action today? Well it is because 44% of the reactors in Europe are just to old to still be on line. It's common sense that as these aged and increasing decrepit nuclear reactors get older so the chances of serious faults in them increase. We demand that reactors older than their initial design lifetime should be closed immediately. We believe that for safety no further lifetime extensions should be granted.
Ageing reactors is an urgent issue in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK. Governments and regulators in these countries need to protect citizens in their own and neighbouring countries from the risk of a risk of a Fukushima tragedy in densely populated Europe.
Despite the upgrades and repairs, the overall condition of nuclear reactors deteriorates in the long term. Out of 151 operational reactors in EU, 66 are older than 30 years old, 25 are older than 35 years and 7 are older than 40 years old.
The report and website clearly shows that Europe can't rely on old reactors to deliver the carbon reductions needed to save the climate and a single greenhouse gas reduction-target for 2030 is therefore out of the question. We need three binding European and national targets of 45% renewables, 55% carbon emissions cuts and 40% energy efficiency by 2030.
Isadora Wronski is a Powershift Energy Nuclear Coordinator at Greenpeace Nordic
Why the 'right to decide on the national energy mix' doesn't help national mix issues in reality, or why European leaders should support ambitious and binding EU wide and national targets for renewables and efficiency.
Too often it is in human nature to hold on to old recipes that haven't worked in the past, similar to a fly that bangs against a closed window for hours to get outside, but doesn't. Sadly the same seems to be true for a number of European Environment and Energy Ministers who discussed the Commission's recent proposal for the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework over the last two days.
There are reasons to doubt that their input given to Heads of government in view of the EU Summit discussions on 20 & 21 March will provide the basis for the needed radical energy system transformation in the coming decades. The one that will break Europe's chains to a highly polluting, overly expensive and increasingly risky energy system.
Or to say it in other words, to ensure quick agreement on the ambitious and binding targets for both the EU and national level for renewable energy and energy efficiency – the two required vectors to drive greenhouse gas reduction down while advancing on the energy system modernisation and decrease the dependency on expensive and energy imports. Of course such a transformation doesn't fall from the sky. It needs a clear direction given by politicians, business and citizens, sufficient time and resources, planning and policy design to allow a progressive and most cost efficient process. However, what too many of these Ministers seem to propose is to delay this decision and go on with just the repackaged same old stuff, wrapped away under unclear policy language.
The so-called flexibility and the 'national right to decide on national energy mixes' as written down in the EU Treaties is held forward by some Ministers to keep the EU from making the needed decisions to prepare our future, from putting the deep ranging energy system transformation on track.
But what does the right to decide on national energy mixes actually mean? Part of the problem here is the role of nuclear power in the energy mix. New build power plants have proven not to be an economic viable option – the showcases in Flamanville and Olkiluoto have been demonstrating this extensively over the last decade. And more recent the UK plans for channelling huge amounts of taxpayer money over the next 35 years into another such attempt for a new build nuclear power plant in Hinkley Point C are today much as uncertain politically as economically. There is also the existing nuclear park in the EU; in which reactors' capital costs are in most cases paid off, and the power plants are so-to-say cash-cows that are happily milked by its operators.
However, the nuclear power plant park is ageing – out of 151 reactors in Europe, 66 are more than 30 years old, 25 more than 35 years, and 7 even more then 40 years, and the majority is threatening to overshoot their technical design life-time. It will be not a big surprise that nuclear power plant operators are already fiercely lobbying their governments to obtain lifetime extensions to secure this welcome income flow for some further decades, instead of having to cash out for decommissioning and waste disposal. Today's published studies that were commissioned by Greenpeace show that the increasing age of the reactors also increases the risks for a nuclear incident and significant economic and environmental damage. For citizens in the own but also in the neighbouring countries.
Betting on nuclear power plants life-time extension would be a multiple mistake for the European Union.
First of all it would catapult European citizens into a new era of risk, in the name of the benefits of a handful of economic actors and their political backers, and without having properly informed citizens but also neighbouring countries.
Then it would be a waste of money. The economics of life time extension don't work properly out either. In the US we see that in spite of receiving permission for life-time extension, necessary upgrading was too costly for five reactors last year. And in Europe, operators and politicians try to prevent any upgrading needed to bring reactors on the standards of today's best available technology – for exactly these economic reasons. A report published last week by Greenpeace France concluded 4 Billion Euro would be needed per reactor to come near to that level. That money could much more efficiently be spent in clean and safe energy technologies.
Of course this requires that alternative energy sources are in place when the demand is there. There is no reason to use fossil fuels impairing the climate to replace risky old reactors. Nor does there need to be an issue with security of supply in Europe. Energy efficiency and savings solutions and a multitude of renewable energy technologies exist and can be rolled in fast, reliably and affordable. The right interconnections and the internal market offer more than enough possibilities to prevent any security of supply issues. But it needs sincere support on European level.
The European leaders will discuss our energy future not too far after the third anniversary of the Fukushima catastrophe. If they don't shed the shackles to their big energy companies, we will be facing more Fukushimas with our ageing nuclear fleet. The last thing you want if you face a climate crisis as we do now, is being tied in by a nuclear accident. It's time to set the switches right: 55% greenhouse gas reductions in 2030, a binding minimum of 45% renewables and 40% efficiency increase. Nuclear power can't help to deliver these targets.
Jan Haverkamp is Greenpeace expert consultant on nuclear energy and energy policy and based in Gdansk, Poland, his post is based on a Greenpeace report on Nuclear power plant ageing.
Today started as a regular day. My son woke up at 5am, at 7am I got a coffee, walked to the subway and after a 40-minute commute I arrived at the office.
But this ain't no regular day.
This is the day Procter & Gamble (P&G), the maker of products such as Head & Shoulders, will have to stop ignoring the voice of the more than 185,000 people from around the world who are demanding it stops sourcing palm oil linked to forest destruction. As we revealed last week in a year-long investigation, P&G must come clean and stop making us a part of their forest destruction scandal.
Just as I opened my computer I found out that P&G, in a very sneaky move, started to delete comments placed by our supporters on the social media pages. Let me make this clear. P&G went from ignoring people's demands to trying to hide them from the world. Busted!
After this poor start, I'm curious to see what they will do about this video we released this morning, highlighting the hypocrisy of a company that claims to support Moms, while making orphans. Orangutan orphans. Check it out here:
But while videos, posts and other social media materials are a great way of communicating our demands to the company, we need to make sure they get to the top decision makers, the big shots, who hold the power to change P&G's policies and guarantee it's supply chain is free from forest destruction,
And that's exactly what a group of activists are doing.
As I write, Greenpeace activists are hanging two banners at P&G's global headquarters in Cincinnati, in the US. One of them went further and is floating from a zipline that connects both buildings. The messages: "Stop putting tiger's survival on the line" and "Head & Shoulders, wipes out dandruff and rainforests".
Now let's see if they can erase that one.
The bottom line of all this is simple. Instead of ignoring the demands from thousands of people and trying to hide the facts, P&G needs to seriously address the issue. It will only do that when it adopts and implements a No Deforestation policy that goes beyond their commitment to buying palm oil that, while certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as sustainable, is still linked to the destruction of forests, including orangutan and tiger habitat.
If other companies like Nestlé, Unilever, L'Oréal and Ferrero can move beyond the RSPO and commit to No Deforestation, then so can P&G.
Joao Talocchi is a forest campaigner at Greenpeace USA
Never mind the catwalks of New York, Paris, Milan and London, the red carpet at the Oscar’s is the place to check out the latest high fashion trends. Who is wearing what has become almost as important as who takes home the coveted golden statuettes.
While this year's 'runway' was sprinkled with Armanis and Diors, Twilight star Kellan Lutz and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko made fashion statements of a different kind - turning the red carpet green with unique, sustainable designs created by Red Carpet Green Dress.
Now, in it’s fifth year, the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) challenge is a contest for innovative designers to showcase stunning fashion made to the highest environmental standards possible. This year's winning designs by Alice Elia and H Brothers were last night showcased to the whole world at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony.
Olga’s dress and Kellan’s tuxedo marry green design with intricate couture worthy of the Hollywood glamour - made from GOTS certified organic silk and naturally dyed with extracts from Sappan wood or derived from recycled plastic bottles respectively. These designs give us a glimpse into the fashion industry’s potential to make clothing that doesn’t pollute our planet.
Sustainable, environmentally friendly fashion like this should not be the exception, it should be the norm.
Greenpeace is calling on brands to rid their clothes and production processes of hazardous chemicals. Already people-power has helped us convince 20 companies, including Burberry and Valentino, to commit to making beautiful fashion that doesn’t cost the earth. We need industry-wide change to fix a broken fashion system, but Greenpeace also supports forward thinking initiatives like RCGD which are showing the world that sustainable is beautiful.Fashionable Lies
RCGD might have been turning the carpet green but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many of the other fashion labels that filled the Oscar’s ceremony. Greenpeace International's latest investigation showed the presence of hazardous chemicals in children's clothing made by luxury brands like Dior, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Dolce&Gabbana.
Despite calls from around the world to create toxic-free fashion, these brands keep hiding behind their increasingly unfashionable lies.Take Action
Be part of the growing movement to clean up fashion. Demand brands like Versace and Dolce&Gabbana Detox our clothes and our future now: www.greenpeace.org/thekingisnaked
Chiara Campione is the Fashion Duel Project Leader at Greenpeace Italy who Tweets @ChiaraCampione
Photo of Olga Kurylenko & Kellan Lutz at the Oscars by Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S
Nearly 400,000 of you have joined us to demand the products you use are forest and tiger-friendly. We don’t believe that the products we use every day should contribute to the destruction of precious habitat for animals. That’s why we are pushing brands, like Head & Shoulders, to commit to forest protection.
So on this World Wildlife Day, let’s remind these companies of some of the things we stand to lose if Indonesia’s forests are not protected and if companies don’t clean up their supply chains.
1. There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
Dirty palm oil from forest destruction is destroying their homes. How much longer these guys have before they’re gone forever?
2. Pygmy elephants in Borneo.
These little guys number as few as 1,500. Gentle natured and downright cute, these animals are losing their homes to deforestation.
3. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered.
Don’t you think they’re worth protecting too?
4. Indonesia contains up to 15% of all known species of plants, mammals and birds that make up the world’s biodiversity.
5. Indonesia's forests are disappearing at a rate of 9 Olympic swimming pools per minute.
Take action to save their homes!
Last week revealed that the maker of Head & Shoulders, Procter & Gamble, was buying palm oil from companies trashing Indonesia's rainforests. Since we revealed the findings from our year-long investigation, P&G has tried pretend there's nothing wrong, claiming to be committed to “sustainable palm oil”. But the scheme it relies on does not work.
This photo was taken less than a week ago. It doesn't look very sustainable to us.
While P&G might be burying its head in the sand, other companies like Nestlé, Unilever, Ferrero and L’Oréal are committing to No Deforestation. Just late last week, a big Indonesian palm oil producer called Golden Agri Resources committed to strengthening the forest conservation policy you helped them commit to in 2011. It now applies across all its suppliers and for all the palm oil they buy and trade. It’s just one more sign that the palm oil industry is in transformation. Forests don’t need to be destroyed for palm oil.
Bustar Maitar is head of the Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace International
Anniversaries can vary in significance, both to people individually and to wider audiences. On paper, the first anniversary of the introduction of a piece of EU timber legislation might not be a birthday that is chalked up in many people’s calendar.
But actually, 12 months on from the European Union’s Timber Regulation came in it is good time to reflect on the success of the law and to call on both governments and competent authorities to do more to ensure that it is enforced correctly.
The EUTR prohibits the placement of any illegally sourced timber – or timber products – being placed on the European market. It marked the culmination of several years work from many organisations – Greenpeace amongst them – and is a big step forward in the worldwide battle against deforestation and forest degradation.
Interpol estimates that illegal logging accounts for more than half – and in some cases up to 90 per cent – of all forestry in key tropical producing countries: a lot of this wood heads to Europe.
The EUTR closes off one avenue for a lot of that illegal cargo and requires timber companies trading in Europe to ensure due diligence and prevent any suspect or illegally sourced wood entering their supply chains.
But, although it may be stating the obvious, it’s worth noting that a law is only effective if it is enforced. And unfortunately, throughout the last 12 months, various Greenpeace teams in Europe have exposed shipments of illegal timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) entering the continent.
A shipment of endangered Wenge wood, which had been earmarked by Belgian authorities as suspicious while being held in Antwerp port, found its way to a veneer processing facility in the Czech Republic and to two locations in Germany. German authorities deemed the wood illegal under the terms of the EUTR and confiscated it.
This was, initially, a promising step but no further action against the supplying company has been taken nor against the Swiss based company that arranged the placement of the wood. The wood in the Czech Republic has not even been confiscated.
More recently, a Greenpeace France team “confiscated” a batch of suspect timber from the Sicobois company in the port of Caen. This followed up a complaint filed under the EUTR last July. At the time of writing no response had been received.
Sicobois is a perfect of example of the type of company that is able to operate, seemingly with impunity, in countries such as the DRC. Greenpeace has tracked the company’s illegal operations for many years and recently a team from our Kinshasa office discovered that Sicobois is still a source of social conflict regarding its operations in the Lisala area of Equateur province.
When we visited the area, we found that the company was still employing the widespread practice of using illegal artisanal logging permits (designed for small scale producers) to circumvent a national moratorium on new logging concessions.
Furthermore, we spoke to two victims of an attack and abduction by Sicobois workers in the village of Mopito Mombila last year. Medical evidence later suggested that a female victim had been raped. The company denies it engages in illegal activities, but acknowledges that its permits are illegal and its wood is sometimes illegally marked. Sicobois puts those blatant infringements down to clerical oversight.
A year ago Greenpeace Africa described the state of the DRC forestry sector as “organized chaos”. Nothing has changed since. Weak forest governance and widespread corruption mean companies such as Sicobois are still held unaccountable for its actions, still log illegally and sometimes its wood still ends up overseas in places like France.
DRC is by no means the biggest logging sector in the world, or Africa, or even the Congo Basin. But it is among the most chaotic. Being home to vast tracts of the world’s second largest tropical rain-forested area provides an example of the threats to tropical forests and the communities who depend upon them if illegal logging is not tackled effectively at source and at the final destination.
The EUTR is a good step forward, but the challenge involved in ensuring it works to its full potential is a daily one, not one that only gets addressed on a yearly basis.
Danielle van Oijen is a forest campaigner at Greenpeace Netherlands.
On Monday, February 24, Greenpeace International's Executive Director Kumi Naidoo presented a lecture at the Oxford Martin School in the UK on civil disobedience. History shows us that civil disobedience is often necessary when the relatively weak face the relatively strong. When power is out of balance, as in most cases of social justice advocacy, civil disobedience may be one of the few tactics left for citizens.
Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire invaded Judea, established a puppet government, and placed Roman icons in temples as part of a campaign to eradicate the people's culture. Rome assassinated those who resisted with strength, using public displays of violence, which intimidated others. In response, the Jerusalem community marched to Caesarea on the coast to confront the Roman governor in an act of peaceful civil protest. The people – men, women and children – offered themselves up en masse to be killed. This show of peaceful commitment so confounded the Romans – ironically avoiding state power by submitting to it – that Rome relented and removed the offending symbols from the temples.
And thus, the weak have confronted the strong throughout history: The Quakers, Gandhi, the Chipko movement, the suffragettes, labour movements, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Greenpeace, and countless others. Peaceful confrontation, not just words, creates social change.
In 1846, American poet Henry David Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax because of his opposition to slavery and the American war on Mexico. After police arrested Thoreau, his colleague, writer Ralph Waldo Emerson visited him in jail and asked, "Henry, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau – who knew that Emerson shared his opposition to slavery and war – famously replied, "Waldo, what are you doing out there?"
Moral beliefs require action. When private citizens confront the injustice of governments, empires, bankers, royalty, or corporations they face an opponent who typically profits from the injustice and who will use its power to preserve the inequality for its benefit. For example, the peace and social justice movements typically face governments and corporate interests who: (1) Possess most of the money; (2) possess a monopoly on official violence, the police, military, and jails; (3) control most of the media; (4) possess the ability to spy and infiltrate; and (5) who gain public support by intimidation or by selling access to power or money. All of these practices are typical of powerful regimes from ancient kingdoms to modern alleged democracies.
In such circumstances, the relatively weak must find tactics of confrontation that avoid the opponents' strengths, avoid their own weakness, take advantage of the people's limited strengths, and which simultaneously illuminate the issue (peace, women's rights, ecology, economic justice.)
Although the people may not possess the money and institutional power, they may possess: (1) moral truth, righteousness; (2) each other, strength of numbers; (3) creativity; (4) the real wealth of a sharing community; (5) genuine moral leadership; (6) commitments to work for the moral truth without personal gain; and (7) they possess the power to tell their story.
This last tool, the power of narrative, can be used to expose the fraudulent story of the colonizers, plunderers, and oppressors. In our time, this fraudulent narrative, told by the corporate elite, includes not only a delusion of economic justice, but for example, also the outright deceit of climate denial funded by wealthy corporate owners, who profit from a hydrocarbon economy that causes the warming. So, the relatively weak, the people, must find a way to offset this institutional power.
Simply explaining injustice – explaining the moral injustice of slavery, or gender bias, or ecological devastation – is not enough. Why? Because the powerful benefit from the injustice. The logical or moral truth does not necessarily matter to oppressive regimes. Today, for example, we hear 99.9% of the scientists explaining the very simple biophysical reality of global warming, and yet the elite appear eager to follow the advice of 0.1% of the scientists – typically funded by oil interests to conjure up nominal evidence to deny the truth.
Thus, as a tactic, logic itself is limited. The truth needs public outcry. This was the case in Gandhi's India, in Mandela's South Africa, and in today's global ecological crisis.
However, the moral and biophysical truth does matter to the common people. The activist, who wishes to change society, must find a means to enter the large-scale public discourse where truth can gain traction. The people must tell their story, and the dynamics of narrative requires drama, characters, encounters, and visible commitment. Thus, we witness Gandhi making salt at the seashore, Rosa Parks refusing to move from her seat on the bus, the Quakers sailing boats into nuclear test zones, or Greenpeace sailing boats into whaling fleets or Arctic oil grounds.
When Greenpeace began, in 1970, people had been writing and talking about ecology for decades. Rachel Carson had written Silent Spring, which had stirred interest, but had not yet moved masses. At Greenpeace, we wanted to create an ecology movement on a global scale. Explaining ecology was not enough. We had to engage with the public discourse on a scale greater than writing an article explaining the dangers of toxins or species extinction.
Greenpeace had to help create a new narrative that would expose the errors of the status quo narrative. The narrative of the industrial, financial, and imperial powers claimed that these powers "created wealth" while in fact the status quo was destroying the real wealth of our productive ecosystems and our communities. The new narrative had to show, not tell, the world's people that we could create a new society based on compassion not only for humanity, but for all of life. The new narrative had to expose how the industrial narrative degraded our world, and offer a new world based on a more modest place in nature's patterns and processes.
In the 1970s, we knew we were on the right path, that we possessed or at least approached a moral truth, the importance of ecological balance. Protecting Earth's productive ecosystems would help ensure long-term social stability. Industrialism faced very real biophysical limits. These limits would not be universally popular, but they were universally true.
So, rather than try to explain ecology, in 1975, we sailed a small fish boat, the Phyllis Cormack, out into the middle of the ocean to confront Russian and Japanese whaling fleets on the whaling grounds. We blockaded the whalers and returned with images of the slaughter, blood and guts in the water, brave young men and women protecting the whales, and the decaying machinery of industrial plunder.
A new narrative was born. The modern environmental movement emerged, not because we possessed the logic, but because we told a more truthful story with non-violent direct action. The world's people responded not to facts, but to images of destruction and bravery. The moral truth became manifest through narrative, and this is one purpose of non-violent direct action.
If we lived in a society that was governed by logic and common decency, then these actions might not be necessary, but we do not live in such a society. We live in a society governed by money and power, hoarded by a tiny elite – the 1% – to the detriment of most people and all of nature.
When Greenpeace first sailed a ship into a nuclear test zone, we employed a tactic borrowed from the Quakers. Gandhi and Rosa Parks were our models. The Chipko people, the original tree-huggers, were our models. We simply applied the tactic of non-violent direct action to ecology. We showed people the beauty and magnificence of whales, of seals, of forests and rivers. Once we shifted the global public narrative – as did Gandhi, Mandela, or the Quakers – we entered a field of battle in which our strengths mattered, truth mattered, moral righteousness mattered, and the power of masses of people mattered.
Non-violent direct action does not work without moral truth, but it always works when it possesses moral truth, because direct action shifts the narrative. From history, we know some truths about power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The powerful tend to leverage their power into more power for themselves. Power never relinquishes power willingly. Power clings to power. Power covets more power. So the people, the relatively powerless, must find a way to engage the powerful in a sphere that employs its modest strengths: Public displays of moral integrity.
The industrial and financial elite could argue with us – which they do to this day – but once we had shifted the narrative to a genuine story rather than the fraudulent story of the status quo, they could not undo what we had done, they could not un-tell the story. The British could not undo the images of their own brutality in India, exposed by Gandhi. The racists in America or South Africa could not undo the images of their injustice and brutality. Direct action shifts the story forever.
Another reason that direction action proves necessary is that the status quo can and will simply deny its crimes against humanity and nature. For example, in 1978, on good evidence, photographs of waste drums, Greenpeace discovered that the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were dumping toxic and nuclear waste at sea. Although the London Dumping Convention had banned "high-level" waste dumping at sea, when confronted with the truth, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) denied the crime, claiming that the waste was "low-level." They simply lied.
A 300-foot freighter, the Gem, served as the nuclear garbage scow, so on July 11, 1978, the new Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior followed the Gem to their dumpsite near the Sea of Biscay. At the site, the Gem slowed to two knots and began to drop black drums of waste into the ocean. Greenpeace launched small, inflatable boats, positioned them under the dumping platform, and filmed the procedure from the bridge of the Rainbow Warrior. When a 600-pound nuclear waste drum hit a Greenpeace boat, the cameras captured the sequence on film. When we returned to London and showed those films, revealing the danger to the Greenpeace crew, the public demanded change and the UKAEA were forced to admit that the drums contained plutonium, the most toxic substance known. Non-violent direct action had exposed the lie, and regulators finally enforced their laws. This would not have happened without direct action.
Although Greenpeace adheres to a strict philosophy of non-violence against person or property, we have often grown frustrated at the deceit and slow pace of change. We have sometimes been reminded of the words spoken by a despondent Mark Anthony from the third act of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Yet, again and again, we have remained meek and gentle. Greenpeace has a 43-year record of peaceful direct action. To be successful in telling a narrative of moral truth, we must remain absolutely peaceful, and this has remained a strength of direct action. Moral integrity, we know, does not always win, but has a chance to win when wielded with peacefulness. When practiced with compassion direct action gains strength beyond the measure of money and violence.
When the powerful over-react to peaceful civil disobedience with arrests and violence, they only expose their own moral failure. When Russia arrested the Arctic 30 and charged them with piracy they exposed their own intolerance and corruption. On February 18, when Russian police attacked members of the punk band Pussy Riot with whips, they displayed their own brutality for all the world to witness. Within 24 hours, the band had released a music video – "Putin Will Teach You How to Love" – showing the attack. Once again, the powerful elite over-reacted to civil disobedience and exposed their own lack of moral integrity.
I have spent time in jail for my actions; I have been mocked, threatened, and spied upon, and these are my proudest moments. These are the times when I have known that I have some power to offset the power of violence and money. These are the moments when I know that my modest actions have exposed the injustice, the deceit of the official narrative, and the destruction of unrestrained industrial and corporate power.
Once the new narrative exists in the global discourse, any violent response – jail, beatings, increased oppression – only serves to expose the corruption of power. We learned this from Gandhi and the Quakers. We learned this from Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.
If logic, common sense, and common decency worked alone to change society, we would not need direct action. However, history shows that common decency requires action and moral logic needs visible evidence. These values require a narrative to come alive in people's lives. The people, who want to create a more just world, must engage with direct action because otherwise the truth does not prevail.
Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.
Japan has released a first draft of a new energy policy that surprisingly, given the Fukushima disaster, still sees a future for nuclear in the country's energy mix. The plan also calls for an increase in renewables, but the call for restarting reactors is the bad idea in the plan.
Katsutaka Idogawa, the former mayor of Futaba town presents his family tree, which he brought from his old house in Futaba town to his new house in Kazo city, where he evacuated after the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Right now all 48 reactors still left standing in Japan are offline. For a good deal of the three years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster Japan has lived without any of its reactors operating. There have been no blackouts, people have reduced their demand and the economy is functioning.
By being nuclear free for months on end, Japan has shown it doesn't need nuclear reactors. The government's fixation with keeping nuclear in its proposed energy mix shows the lack of leadership of the Abe government on energy policy.
The Abe government has been talking about restarting reactors since it was elected but restarts are still not certain. Clearly, restarting is more complicated than the government has been admitting.
The government could show real leadership on energy policy by doing far more than it has so far to promote the development of renewables.
The draft plan also calls for accelerating renewable power over the coming years. That needs to be supported by policies that turn promises into action.
So far the Abe government has squandered the time since it was elected. It could have used this time to develop more renewable power.
Instead it has drafted a plan that focuses on what management of nuclear utilities want, not the public. It's a plan that looks to the past and a dirty energy source, not the future which is clean green energy.
There is leadership on renewables in Japan; it is coming from households and municipalities.
Thanks to 400,000 small household installations, solar pv have gone up to a capacity of 6,800 megawatts – roughly equivalent to the capacity of seven reactors in Japan.
This significant growth has come since July 2012 when the previous government introduced a feed in tariff to encourage the development of renewables.
That's the minimum level of leadership the Abe government should be aiming for to encourage the development of renewables.
When the idea of a plan was announced, 19,000 people and Greenpeace Japan sent in comments. The government hasn't taken these into account in its draft. If it were listening to the public, the plan would be talking about phasing out nuclear, since that's what the majority of the public wants.
Brian Blomme is a communications manager with Greenpeace International. He was on the witness tour to Fukushima.
Procter & Gamble claims that nearly 5 billion people use its products, among them the anti-dandruff shampoo Head & Shoulders. But what's not so squeaky clean is that P&G is making those billions of consumers unknowingly part of an environmental scandal.
Greenpeace today reveals the result of a yearlong investigation showing P&G is sourcing palm oil from companies connected to widespread forest devastation. Its sourcing policies also expose its supply chain to forest fires and habitat destruction that is further pushing the Sumatran tiger to the edge of extinction.
Baby orangutans at the Orangutan Foundation International Care Center in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. Expansion of oil palm plantations is destroying their forest habitat. 09/14/2013
Palm oil is a common ingredient in detergents, shampoos, cosmetics and other household goods that the company manufactures. That's not to say palm oil is the problem, but palm oil from forest destruction – dirty palm oil – is.
So how does this affect you? Well, this means that every time you and your family reach for a bottle of Head & Shoulders, from the supermarket shelf to the bathroom cabinet, P&G is making you a part of this scandal.
Greenpeace investigative team witnesses the newly cleared forest in an oil palm plantation owned by PT Wana Catur Jaya Utama concession, a subsidiary of BW Plantation, which is a palm oil supplier to Procter & Gamble in Central Kalimantan.
Greenpeace found that orangutan habitat was being cleared in plantations linked to P&G's supply chain. Land used for palm oil cultivation owned by the BW Plantation Group, a company connected to P&G's supply chain, also correlates with the deaths and burials of orangutans next to the Tanjung Puting National Park. In other cases, Greenpeace documented on-going forest clearance within the concessions of two producers known to directly supply P&G.
A remaining log from the recent clearance of orangutan habitat in inside the PT Wana Catur Jaya Utama palm oil concession in Mantangai, Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan. PT WCJU is a subsidiary of BW Plantation. 02/21/2014
Our analysis of the company's sourcing policies also mean that the palm oil in its supply chain could be coming from companies linked to forest fires and habitat destruction that is pushing the Sumatran tiger ever closer to the brink.
Companies without strong policies to cut deforestation from their products are exposed to illegal practices in high-risk areas, like the province of Riau in Sumatra. A prime example of this is the PT Rokan Adi Raya concession, which includes tiger habitat plus forested deep peat, and experienced large-scale forest clearance and uncontrolled fires last year. In June 2013, over 150 fire hotspots were recorded within this concession. Many of P&G's palm oil suppliers ship from Dumai, the main port of Riau province.
Smoke from smouldering fires obscures an excavator digging a peatland drainage canal in the PT Rokan Adiraya Plantation oil palm plantation near Sontang village in Rokan Hulu. 06/23/2013
What can we do?
It's time for us to make P&G change its ways.
There are some companies that are already moving to eliminate forest destruction from their supply chains. Among them is the cereal stalwart, Kellogg's, which has committed to removing deforestation from its supply chain, as well as L'Oréal, Unilever, Ferrero and Nestlé. The world's largest palm oil trader, Wilmar International, has also committed to a No Deforestation policy, which – along with the Palm Oil Innovation Group - builds on the business case for responsibly grown palm oil.
We've confronted P&G for the last eight months with how it is exposing consumers to forest destruction. Instead of taking urgent action it is trying to greenwash its actions. It's time Head & Shoulders commits 100% to forest protection and stop making its customers a part of the Sumatran tiger's extinction.
A solitary rainforest tree remains standing in a recently planted palm oil plantation on former orang-utan habitat inside the PT Karya Makmur Abadi Estate II palm oil concession. PT KMA II is a subsidiary of the Malaysian Kuala Lumpar Kepong Berhad (KLK) group. 02/24/2014
There's no excuse for inaction.
Bustar Maitar is head of the Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace International