If it seems like we’ve been talking about lawsuits a lot lately, it’s because we have.
Corporate bullies, helped by Donald Trump’s go-to law firm, have filed two massive lawsuits against Greenpeace in the last two years. They aim to silence us, but we are not alone. Many of our allies and other individual activists are fighting meritless lawsuits of their own. These Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are not about justice or corporations righting some kind of wrong, but about tying up our resources in hopes that we won’t be able to keep fighting for a green and peaceful future.
Today, we filed a motion to dismiss one of these SLAPPs that should have already gone away for good.
Nearly two years ago, Resolute Forest Products — the largest logging company in Canada — filed a CAD$300 million Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO) lawsuit against a number of Greenpeace defendants. In case you haven’t heard of RICO, it’s a law designed to prosecute the mafia and stop organised crime (read: nothing to do with preventing peaceful activists from protecting forests).
In response to this baseless lawsuit, thousands of you raised your voices to make it clear that forest defenders everywhere will not be intimidated by corporate bullies that aim to silence us to protect their profits. And we’ve seen important progress.
Three months ago, a US judge threw out Resolute’s lawsuit in its entirety. Furthermore, the judge ordered Resolute to reimburse Greenpeace for our attorney fees under California’s anti-SLAPP law.
But for Resolute, this case has never been about winning; it’s about stopping us from fighting for forests by sucking up precious time and money. The company showed this in November when it filed a repackaged version of its meritless lawsuit. Because of this, we are all back in this fight.
Today, we filed a 40-page brief outlining why this “new” version of Resolute’s lawsuit is the same old story as the case that’s already been dismissed — and why it deserves the same fate.
There is no reason to think this new version of this lawsuit will not die the same death it did originally, but it does mean that forest lovers can’t stop fighting now. Attacks on our right to speak up threaten so much more than just Greenpeace, they threaten countless groups fighting to make the world a better place — including your right to fight for the planet you love. That’s why there are more than 30 organisations gathering in Washington, DC today to fight back against SLAPPs together.
Because each and every SLAPP threatens us all, we must fight each and every one together. Already, your voices have shown Resolute and companies everywhere that the movement for a green and peaceful future is stronger than corporate intimidation. Now it’s time to speak up again and bury this case once and for all — join the fight and stand up to SLAPPs today.
Greenpeace activists in a forest near Werbellinsee in Brandenburg - April, 2017
Amy Moas, PhD is a senior forest campaigner for Greenpeace USA
It is that time again. Four years roll by and once more the greatest winter athletes in the world will come together to wow us on death-defying luge runs, courageous ski jumps or surprisingly mesmerising curling slides matches.
Unfortunately, all is not well in this winter wonderland.
In preparations for these games, many Olympians have been faced by changing slopes - forced to search the world for places with the right conditions for them to train.
Meanwhile, a recent study by Dr. Daniel Scott from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, found that nine previous and future Winter Olympic cities may soon be too hot to host the games due to rising temperatures.
The impacts of climate change, that once seemed so far away, are here. And they are only going to get worse if we continue down the path we are on.
It does make you wonder then, why one of the biggest sponsors of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Samsung, is still stuck on dirty energy.Greenpeace UK activists give Samsung's flagship store in London a rebranding makeover
Since the 2010 Games, Samsung’s emissions, released from their vast, global supply chain, have risen by a whopping 55%.
Even more shockingly, right now Samsung uses a measly 1% renewable energy. Hardly a gold medal score, this is a laughably underwhelming achievement for a company that spouts out taglines such as “Do What You Can’t” and “Do Bigger Things” without a hint of hypocrisy.
This is in stark contrast to the rest of the world.
Even the Pyeongchang Olympic committee have been proactively communicating their own commitment to be powered by renewables. Six of the venues will run on renewable energy and they have set a target for zero emissions from the games.
While the snow melts and people around the world realise we have no time to lose, Samsung’s CEOs continue to turn a deaf ear. This is not about Greenpeace, it is not about saving face or greenwashing. On the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the world is facing an existential crisis. Never before have we needed action on a truly global scale from all corners to reduce emissions and transition to renewable energy as fast as possible.
However, this is also an opportunity that will set aside the dinosaurs from the innovators. A moment that history will judge us for our actions (or lack of).
Samsung’s CEOs are faced with an opportunity to change course and courageously go beyond business as usual to drastically reduce our emissions and half catastrophic climate change. Do what you can’t?
Robin Perkins is Global Rethink IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia
James (Jon) Castle - 7 December 1950 to 12 January 2018
Over four decades Captain Jon Castle navigated Greenpeace ships by the twin stars of ‘right and wrong’, defending the environment and promoting peace. Greenpeace chronicler, Rex Weyler, recounts a few of the stories that made up an extraordinary life.
Captain Jon Castle onboard the MV Sirius, 1 May 1996
James (Jon) Castle first opened his eyes virtually at sea. He was born 7 December 1950 in Cobo Bay on the Channel Island of Guernsey, UK. He grew up in a house known locally as Casa del Mare, the closest house on the island to the sea, the second son of Robert Breedlove Castle and Mary Constance Castle.
Young Jon Castle loved the sea and boats. He worked on De Ile de Serk, a cargo boat that supplied nearby Sark island, and he studied at the University of Southampton to become an officer in the Merchant Navy.
Jon became a beloved skipper of Greenpeace ships. He sailed on many campaigns and famously skippered two ships during Greenpeace’s action against Shell’s North Sea oil platform, Brent Spar. During his activist career, Jon spelt his name as "Castel" to avoid unwanted attention on his family.
Right and wrong
Jon had two personal obsessions: he loved books and world knowledge and was extremely well-read. He also loved sacred sites and spent personal holidays walking to stone circles, standing stones, and holy wells.
As a young man, Jon became acquainted with the Quaker tradition, drawn by their dedication to peace, civil rights, and direct social action. In 1977, when Greenpeace purchased their first ship - the Aberdeen trawler renamed, the Rainbow Warrior - Jon signed on as first mate, working with skipper Peter Bouquet and activists Susi Newborn, Denise Bell and Pete Wilkinson.
In 1978, Wilkinson and Castle learned of the British government dumping radioactive waste at sea in the deep ocean trench off the coast of Spain in the Sea of Biscay. In July, the Rainbow Warrior followed the British ship, Gem, south from the English coast, carrying a load of toxic, radioactive waste barrels. The now-famous confrontation during which the Gem crew dropped barrels onto a Greenpeace inflatable boat, ultimately changed maritime law and initiated a ban on toxic dumping at sea.
After being arrested by Spanish authorities, Castle and Bouquet staged a dramatic escape from La Coruńa harbour at night, without running lights, and returned the Greenpeace ship to action. Crew member Simone Hollander recalls, as the ship entered Dublin harbour in 1978, Jon cheerfully insisting that the entire crew help clean the ship's bilges before going ashore, an action that not only built camaraderie among the crew, but showed a mariner's respect for the ship itself. In 1979, they brought the ship to Amsterdam and participated in the first Greenpeace International meeting.
In 1980 Castle and the Rainbow Warrior crew confronted Norwegian and Spanish whaling ships, were again arrested by Spanish authorities, and brought into custody in the El Ferrol naval base.
The Rainbow Warrior remained in custody for five months, as the Spanish government demanded 10 million pesetas to compensate the whaling company. On the night of November 8, 1980, the Rainbow Warrior, with Castle at the helm, quietly escaped the naval base, through the North Atlantic, and into port in Jersey.
In 1995, Castle skippered the MV Greenpeace during the campaign against French nuclear testing in the Pacific and led a flotilla into New Zealand to replace the original Rainbow Warrior that French agents bombed in Auckland in 1985.
Over the years, Castle became legendary for his maritime skills, courage, compassion, commitment, and for his incorruptible integrity. "Environmentalism: That does not mean a lot to me," he once said, "I am here because of what is right and wrong. Those words are good enough for me."
Brent SparAction at Brent Spar Oil Rig in the North Sea, 16 June 1995
One of the most successful Greenpeace campaigns of all time began in the summer of 1995 when Shell Oil announced a plan to dump a floating oil storage tank, containing toxic petroleum residue, into the North Atlantic. Castle signed on as skipper of the Greenpeace vessel Moby Dick, out of Lerwick, Scotland. A month later, on 30 April 1995, Castle and other activists occupied the Brent Spar and called for a boycott of Shell service stations.
When Shell security and British police sprayed the protesters with water cannons, images flooded across world media, demonstrations broke out across Europe, and on May 15, at the G7 summit, German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly protested to British Prime Minister John Major. In June, 11 nations, at the Oslo and Paris Commission meetings, called for a moratorium on sea disposal of offshore installations.
After three weeks, British police managed to evict Castle and the other occupiers and held them briefly in an Aberdeen jail. When Shell and the British government defied public sentiment and began towing the Spar to the disposal site, consumers boycotted Shell stations across Europe. Once released, Castle took charge of the chartered Greenpeace vessel Altair and continued to pursue the Brent Spar towards the dumping ground. Castle called on the master of another Greenpeace ship, fitted with a helideck, to alter course and rendezvous with him. Using a helicopter, protesters re-occupied the Spar and cut the wires to the detonators of scuppering charges.
One of the occupiers, young recruit Eric Heijselaar, recalls: "One of the first people I met as I climbed on board was a red-haired giant of a man grinning broadly at us. My first thought was that he was a deckhand, or maybe the bosun. So I asked if he knew whether a cabin had been assigned to me yet. He gave me a lovely warm smile, and reassured me that, yes, a cabin had been arranged. At dinner I found out that he was Jon Castle, not a deckhand, not the bosun, but the captain. And what a captain!"
With activists occupying the Spar once again, Castle and the crew kept up their pursuit when suddenly the Spar altered course, heading towards Norway. Shell had given up. The company announced that Brent Spar would be cleaned out and used as a foundation for a new ferry terminal. Three years later, in 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) passed a ban on dumping oil installations into the North Sea.
"There was no question among the crew who had made this possible, who had caused this to happen," Heijselaar recalls. "It was Jon Castle. His quiet enthusiasm and the trust he put into people made this crew one of the best I ever saw. He always knew exactly what he wanted out of a campaign, how to gain momentum, and he always found the right words to explain his philosophies. He was that rare combination, both a mechanic and a mystic. And above all he was a very loving, kind human being."
After the Brent Spar campaign, Castle returned to the South Pacific on the Rainbow Warrior II, to obstruct a proposed French nuclear test in the Moruroa atoll. Expecting the French to occupy their ship, Castle and engineer, Luis Manuel Pinto da Costa, rigged the steering mechanism to be controlled from the crow's-nest. When French commandos boarded the ship, Castle stationed himself in the crow's-nest, cut away the access ladder and greased the mast so that the raiders would have difficulty arresting him.
Eventually, the commandos cut a hole into the engine-room and severed cables controlling the engine, radio, and steering mechanism, making Castle's remote control system worthless. They towed the Rainbow Warrior II to the island of Hao, as three other protest vessels arrived.
Three thousand demonstrators gathered in the French port of Papeete, demanding that France abandon the tests. Oscar Temaru - leader of Tavini Huiraatira, an anti-nuclear, pro-independence party - who had been aboard the Rainbow Warrior II when it was raided, welcomed anti-testing supporters from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Philippines, and American Samoa. Eventually, France ended their tests, and atmospheric nuclear testing in the world's oceans stopped once and for all.
Through these extraordinary missions, Jon Castle advocated "self-reflection" not only for individual activists, but for the organisation that he loved. Activists, Castle maintained, required "moral courage." He cautioned, "Don't seek approval. Someone has to be way out in front... illuminating territory in advance of the main body of thought."
He opposed "corporatism" in activist organisations and urged Greenpeace to avoid becoming "over-centralised or compartmentalised." He felt that activist decisions should emerge from the actions themselves, not in an office. We can't fight industrialism with "money, numbers, and high-tech alone," he once wrote in a personal manifesto. Organisations have to avoid traps of "self-perpetuation" and focus on the job "upsetting powerful forces, taking on multinationals and the military-industrial complex."
He recalled that Greenpeace had become popular "because a gut message came through to the thirsty hearts of poor suffering people ... feeling the destruction around them." Activists, Castle felt, required "freedom of expression, spontaneity [and] an integrated lifestyle." An activist organisation should foster a "feeling of community" and exhibit "moral courage." Castle felt that social change activists had to "question the materialistic, consumerist lifestyle that drives energy overuse, the increasingly inequitable world economic tyranny that creates poverty and drives environmental degradation," and must maintain "honour, courage and the creative edge."
Well loved hero
Susi Newborn, who was there to welcome Jon aboard the Rainbow Warrior way back in 1977, and who gave the ship its name, wrote about her friend with whom she felt "welded at the heart: He was a Buddhist and a vegetarian and had an earring in his ear. He liked poetry and classical music and could be very dark, but also very funny. Once, I cut his hair as he downed a bottle or two of rum reciting The Second Coming by Yeats."
Newborn recalls Castle insisting that women steer the ships in and out of port because, "they got it right, were naturals." She recalls a night at sea, Castle "lashed to the wheel facing one of the biggest storms of last century head on. I was flung about my cabin like a rag doll until I passed out. We never talked about the storm, as if too scared to summon up the behemoth we had encountered. A small handwritten note pinned somewhere in the mess, the sole acknowledgment of a skipper to his six-person crew: ‘Thank You.’” Others remember Castle as the Greenpeace captain that could regularly be found in the galley doing kitchen duty.
In 2008, with the small yacht Musichana, Castle and Pete Bouquet staged a two-man invasion of Diego Garcia island to protest the American bomber base there and the UK's refusal to allow evicted Chagos Islanders to return to their homes. They anchored in the lagoon and radioed the British Indian Ocean Territories officials on the island to tell them they and the US Air Force were acting in breach of international law and United Nations resolutions. When arrested, Castle politely lectured his captors on their immoral and illegal conduct.
In one of his final actions, as he battled with his failing health, Castle helped friends in Scotland operate a soup kitchen, quietly prepping food and washing up behind the scenes.
Upon hearing of his passing, Greenpeace ships around the world - the Arctic Sunrise, the Esperanza, and the Rainbow Warrior - flew their flags at half mast.
Jon is fondly remembered by his brother David, ex-wife Caroline, their son, Morgan Castle, born in 1982, and their daughter, Eowyn Castle, born in 1984. Morgan has a daughter of eight months Flora, and and Eowyn has a daughter, Rose, who is 2.
Ever since the first production car rolled off the assembly line more than 100 years ago, our love affair with automobiles has grown and grown. In countries like the UK, France, Italy and Germany there are now around 5 vehicles for every 10 people. In the USA, Australia and New Zealand, the number is higher still.
But, after a century of the automobile playing a central part in our lives, we’re starting to see a shift toward alternative forms of transport. If this trend continues, the car’s domination of global transport could soon come to a spluttering end.
Traffic jam in Beijing
Hidden cost of cars
With the cost of electric vehicles set to plummet over the next decade, many car firms now admit that the future is an electric one. But will this be enough? Shouldn’t we also be asking ourselves if we need so many cars in the first place?
If we could flick a switch and turn every fossil fuelled car into an electric one, lungs across the planet would breathe a sigh of relief as toxic emissions dropped (as long as the electricity used was from clean energy sources).
But this wouldn’t address the problem of just how wasteful a car dominated transport system is.
In 2016, more than 72 million new cars hit the road. Manufacturing such a giant quantity of vehicles year on year uses vast quantities of steel, aluminium, copper, glass, rubber, and other raw materials.
It’s a great environmental cost, considering the majority of these vehicles sit idle 95% of the time.
Parked cars take up a vast amount of space, too. In urban areas in Los Angeles county, an estimated 14% of land – 200 square miles – is dedicated to parking.
Though progress is often slow, city planners and politicians are gradually waking up to the fact that when cities offer safe and affordable alternatives to cars, we start to travel differently.
Cyclists in Copenhagen
More and more young people are choosing bicycles, buses and trains over owning a car out of the sheer cost. In Berlin, it’s public transport, not cars, which is the coolest way of getting around.
In Copenhagen, a city that has a long held reputation for being bike-friendly, a whopping 62% of people choose to cycle their commute.
In the French city of Lyon, the number of cars entering the city has fallen by 20% compared to just a decade ago. As the city’s network of bike hire stations continues to grow, town planners are hoping for a further 20% decline.
In London, where cycle super-highways are becoming popular, the share of journeys made by car has fallen by a quarter since 1990.
Car free days are rising in popularity in many of the world’s largest cities, giving people a taste of what it’s like to live with less noise, traffic and pollution. Bogota was one of the first cities to introduce a car free day, and it’s now become so popular that it’s been extended to a full week.
Though the rise of electric cars should be celebrated, a truly sustainable transport system isn’t just about ditching fossil fuel vehicles.
It’s about building more cycle lanes, and supporting schemes to get people on bikes in the first place. It’s about constructing roads which encourage a more diverse range of travel - cycling, electric scooters and cargo bikes - instead of so heavily favouring cars. It’s about mass transport that runs on clean energy and is affordable and easy for everyone to use. And it’s about all of us - citizens, politicians, and businesses - playing a part in making it happen.
To coincide with the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos this week, Greenpeace has published Freedom to Breathe: Rethinking Urban Transport, a report that lays out our vision for the future of transport.
Richard Casson is a campaigner for Greenpeace UK
Most people would be surprised about how many species of cold-water corals and amazing sponges you’d find on the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. Even as the scientist who has identified three quarters of the registered seafloor communities designated for special protection in the Antarctic, I’ve never seen them myself either!
That is, I’ve never seen them in their natural environment before. Until now.
Getting ready to dive in the submarine, 19 Jan 2018
The seabed of this truly special place is home to corals and other animals that create 3D structures, providing shelter for fish and habitat for countless other organisms. They are an indispensable element in a complex ecosystem which feeds the Antarctic Ocean and all the other larger and more well-known species in it like penguins, seals and whales.
Submarine image of the seabed in the Antarctic, 23 January 2018
The reason why right now I’m more excited than I’ve ever been in my 25 years as an Antarctic biologist is that, this time, I get to go to the bottom of the sea myself! Having done lots of expedition-based research into the depths of this unique ocean, now I can see first-hand what I have been studying for so many years.
Usually, this type of scientific research is hard labour; digging through the large amount of bycatch caught in trawl nets and the time-consuming job of sorting it into taxonomic groups for analysis. But the destruction that this method causes has always disturbed me. But here we are, gently gliding by in a two-person submarine, taking photographic evidence and collecting a few specimens that might even be new species.
Down we go!
I became pretty obsessed with the marine invertebrate life of the Antarctic region at quite a young age. Since then, I’ve encountered and studied some truly impressive seabed communities in the Antarctic and now I’m venturing out to locate additional areas that are in need of special protection.
In a really meaningful way, our exploration of the bottom of the sea will help determine specific areas that should be a priority for protection from an expanding commercial fishing fleet, which jeopardises the wellbeing of one of the world's last pristine marine ecosystems; an ocean that connects all oceans.
The evidence of any ‘Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems’ that we encounter on this expedition will be submitted to the Commission for the Antarctic Ocean. It is our hope that registering these ecosystems will support and strengthen the submitted proposal for what will be the largest protected marine area in the world.
Antarctic feather star found at approximately 300 meters depth at Kinnes Cove in the Antarctic Sound, 23 January 2018
I am eager to see these marine protected area proposals develop and mature and be passed by the Commission for the Antarctic Ocean. In this endeavor, the objectives of Greenpeace and I align, and I feel privileged to collaborate with them on this project.
Hopefully my dream as a scientist coming true just now - going to the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean - will help achieve an even bigger dream: to see it protected!
Dr. Susanne Lockhart is an Antarctic biologist with the California Academy of Sciences, currently aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the Antarctic Ocean.
Never have so many penguins been seen waddling in so many places.
They were ice skating in Stockholm, tap dancing in London, trekking up the highest mountain in Turkey and marching on mass in central Tokyo. They were even spotted roaming the deserts of Israel and swimming in the Dead Sea.
Last Saturday (which also happened to be Penguin Awareness Day) penguins across the world stood up in force to support an ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic.
An Antarctic Sanctuary would be a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals. It would put the waters off-limits to the industrial fishing vessels sucking up the tiny shrimp-like krill which Antarctic life relies on. Healthy oceans sustain precious wildlife, help limit climate change and provide food security for billions of people.
You can join the movement here, without having to put on a penguin costume (unless you want to).
A parade of penguins inspect an artwork about Climate Change by Aydın Ermis and Salih Kocakaya called ‘Time of Transformation’ on Turkey’s highest mountain, Mount Erciyes.
Penguin crossing. A large waddle spotted in the Shinjuku area of central Tokyo
Dazzling the locals with outstanding choreographed ice skating in central Stockholm.
A quiet moment of reflection 430m below Antarctic sea level at the Dead Sea in Israel.
A raft of Penguins forming a circle in central Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Tux dining out in style and enjoying some hearty broth in the Netherlands.
“Catch ya later, we’re off for a good ol’ knees up!” Calling friends and family back home from a red telephone box in London.
Crossing the road in search of somewhere to stay in Rosario, Argentina.
A large colony of 80 penguins tap dancing outside the South Bank centre in central London.
Penguin shopping in central Hong Kong.
Have you ever seen a penguin in the desert? Well, now you have. In Israel.
13,000km from home, by the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.
A creche of Penguins calling to protect the Antarctic from the picture postcard old harbour, Nyhavn, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
And a final message from Istanbul. This is our world too.
There are many names for groups of penguins on land, but a ‘waddle’ has to be my favourite. Help protect their Antarctic home, so that penguins everywhere can continue to waddle forever.
Will Rose is a freelance photographer with Greenpeace UK
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing” - Arundhati Roy
I can hear her too. I have spent my working life trying to help others hear her. I wonder, when attending the annual World Economic Forum meeting this week, in the cold mountain air of Davos, if I will still be able to hear her?
Statue of Justice Activity in Davos, 18 Jan 2018
Seven women will chair this year’s Davos, but I still wonder if lady justice will rise above the chorus of backroom deals and rhetoric about co-creating a better future. I wonder if we will be able to find the empathy and connectivity to not only debate the most pressing challenges facing the world today, but to also seize the opportunities they present to build a more sustainable and equitable future together. The time for simply tinkering with the existing system to preserve the status quo is long gone.
Of course I will be reaching out in Davos with special attention on gender equality and justice as vital drivers of the changes we need to see in the world. I will appeal to all those I speak with to look inside themselves and ask how they feel about what is happening in the world. I will ask them to identify what they can do and simply implore them to get it done.
Each year just ahead of the Davos meeting, the WEF publish a Global Risks Report. Over the last few years, we at Greenpeace, and the broader environmental and social justice movements, have made many of the same points about risks, urgency and solutions The very systems from which corporations and politicians draw their power and profit are breaking down and creating the fractured world we now live in.
Extreme weather events (and make no mistake they are more extreme due to climate change) are once again for the second year running, what political and business leaders themselves say is the world’s biggest threat. They are also ranked close to weapons of mass destruction in terms of potential impact. We have clearly entered the era of alternative WMD – Weather of Mass Destruction.
What more relevant place, therefore, than to have this conversation at Davos, where many of the individuals who can ensure we turn the ship in time before hitting the iceberg, are present?
Of course we have to appeal to those in power as human beings, as citizens, as parents and grandparents. We must not forget to appeal to their humanity. At the same time they have specific power and responsibility.
I will also be promoting a new Greenpeace report “Justice for People and Planet.” It calls on governments to impose effective and binding rules on corporate behavior, to make them accountable toward people and the planet. It shows how, rather than imposing these rules, governments have willingly, or unwillingly, become enablers of corporate impunity.
The report’s analysis of 20 specific cases shows how corporations have exploited corporate law, tax and investment treaties, regulatory capture and a series of barriers to justice to profit at the expense of human rights and the environment.
The report documents, among others, how differences in legal standards saw VW fined billions in the US for the dieselgate scandal, but escape unpunished in Europe; how Resolute Forest Products and Energy Transfer Partners have used SLAPP suits in an attempt to silence critics; how Glencore pollutes the environment and climate and uses private arbitration courts to pressurize governments; and how Spanish ACS group became an accomplice to an environmental and social catastrophe when it joined the construction of the Renace hydroelectric power project in Guatemala.
In response we outline common sense Corporate Accountability Principles that include ‘Holding corporations and those individuals who direct them liable for environmental and human rights violations committed domestically or abroad by companies under their control.’ and ‘Promoting a race to the top by prohibiting corporations from carrying out activities abroad which are banned in their home state for reasons of risks to environmental or human rights.’
Whenever possible in conversation I will relay the latest climate science, with a specific focus on the connection between extreme weather events, climate change, and corporate liability. This is a rapidly evolving field scientifically, and, as the impacts are hitting more often and more intensively, one that corporate leaders should be aware of. The recently announced case New York City divesting from fossil fuels against Exxon is based on this latest science.
As Executive Director of Greenpeace International I get asked if I should really be going to Davos. The answer is yes. My predecessors attended for one simple reason-- it is a rare opportunity to speak truth directly to power. Of course, as always, there is no guarantee those people will listen.
I will have many meetings with senior corporate leaders away from their large support teams. Somehow it feels like a more human interaction and a chance to speak heart to heart about facts, economic opportunities, as well as to help them find the compassion they need for these challenges.
Greenpeace is often the first one to turn up at oil spill, or at nuclear disaster so why not be the ones to show up at court of corporate executives straight at the top, and get them to sign up now to the future I am sure they want for their kids and grandkids.
Jennifer Morgan is an executive director with Greenpeace International
Not every penguin is up to the challenge of living in the Antarctic, but those that do are a special sort of awesome. Remember, they don’t have the luxury of being able to fly away again if the weather turns bad.
In honour of Penguin Awareness Day today and while we’re in the Antarctic campaigning to protect their home*, here’s our countdown of the most flippering fantastic Antarctic penguins.
Prepare to be impressed.
*And you can join the movement to create the world’s largest protected area and a safe haven for penguins - an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.
Gentoo penguin in the Antarctic, 17 Jan 2018
Gentoo penguins are easy to identify by the natty white triangular patch above their eyes, which stretches across the top of their heads. They prefer ice free areas, so they stick to the coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula and offshore islands.
Gentoos have sticky-out brush-like tails, and can throw their heads back to make a very loud trumpeting noise, a honk that sounds much more impressive than their 75cm stature would suggest.
Plucky little gentoos can make hundreds of dives every day while foraging for fish, krill and small squid, and are thought to be the fastest swimming penguin underwater, reaching speeds up to 36km per hour.
Macaroni penguins, Macquarie Island, 1 Feb 1990
No, it’s not just a type of pasta, it’s also a species of penguin, close cousin to the better-known Rockhopper. The monogamous Macaroni is the most southerly of the crested penguins, doesn’t seem to venture much beyond Antarctic waters, and nests on the Antarctic Peninsula as well as nearby islands. With a splendid yellow mop of a crest, these krill-munching bumbling blond bombshells might seem more suited to political office...
Chinstrap penguin in the Antarctic, 17 Jan 2018
These are the penguins that look like they should be wearing a helmet. Chinstraps can look squat and serious, and that’s fair enough, as their lot is no laughing matter.
Monogamous, they return to the same partner and busy breeding site every year, often choosing hard-to-reach rocky islands to keep themselves and their chicks safe – but that safety comes at a cost as they have to navigate perilous rocky cliffs, and stormy Antarctic seas to be able to feed their mate and their young. A helmet might not be a bad idea after all, guys…
Emperor Penguin in the Antarctic, 1 Jan 1989
Narrowly missing out on the top spot is the daddy of them all – the Emperor penguin. The biggest living penguin species, they can reach a whopping 1.3 metres tall, and weigh up to 40kgs, about the same as a 12 year old child. Not only are they the biggest, but they also dive the deepest, down at least 550m into the icy Antarctic ocean to catch fish and squid.
Scientists have recently discovered that emperor penguins are especially well adapted to life underwater thanks to bubbles making them as streamlined and hydrodynamic than any Olympic swimmer. Emperor penguins are proper hardcore - not only do they survive the harsh winter on the continent of Antarctica, but they also breed and raise their fluffy chicks in the middle of it.
Massive huddles of stay-at-home dads continuously shuffle around to stay warm and protect their eggs and newly-hatched chicks, whilst the females go off hunting to bring back food. They are undoubtedly the most Antarctic of all the penguins, and definitely win a ‘best dad’ award too.
But since you missed out on the prize by a beak, sashay away Emperors!
Adélie penguin colony in Antarctica, 17 Jan 2018
Top of the pile, is the Antarctic’s very own rockstar penguin – the cute, cuddly, and utterly badass Adelies. Growing to no more than 70cm, these pocket rockets might seem ill-equipped when waddling on land, but are top krill-catching torpedoes in the water.
These little penguins are ridiculously adorable, and probably the most penguiny of all penguins, but behind those cute and cuddly looks lies a tough Antarctic specialist. Found all around the Antarctic coast, they breed nowhere else on earth, and spend winters offshore in the Antarctic ocean.
They are so tough, that they make their nests out of rocks! Rocks and pebbles are the currency that keeps Adelie society functioning – being offered as love tokens to woo a mate, pinched from neighbours when they are not looking, and, err, traded for stolen moments of passion.
Yes, the big brave Emperors are the undisputed king on the icy continent itself, but for sheer penguin awesomeness, entertainment and pebble-pinching prowess, we think the pint-sized pluck of the Adelies makes them Antarctic’s top penguin.
Willie Mackenzie is an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK
Plastics are in the air. Not only literally. Everyone's talking about plastic pollution and the need to take action.
You don’t need to be conducting a scientific research to see that plastic waste is invading our environment, specially our oceans. With up to 12 million tons of plastic entering the oceans every year it is not surprising that we find plastic everywhere, not only polluting the water and severely impacting marine species, but also accumulating in the food chain.
Plastic-Spitting Dragon Protests at Our Oceans Conference in Malta. 5 Oct. 2017.
And so people all over the world are building up a movement to transition to a society free of single-use plastic and the throw-away culture it entails. Whether it be by individual action and changing everyday habits, by signing petitions or by creating change in their communities and local businesses.
The movement to #BreakFreeFromPlastic is on the rise and there’s no stopping it!
But where are we on policy? This week, the European Commission has released the European Plastics Strategy. A document that reflects the vision and the objectives of the Commission on this issue and that will be translated into measures and actions.
The European Union (together with countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement) is the second largest producer of plastic after China.
- In the EU, 25.8 million tons of plastic waste are generated each year, 70% of which is incinerated or dumped in landfill.
- In the EU, 150,000 - 500,000 tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year.
- It is estimated that between 75,000 and 300,000 tons of microplastics are released to the environment each year from EU countries.
We need to change these numbers. It seems like this new EU strategy echoes this urgency and is certainly something worth praising. But once we get to the details, it seems to go down the usual path.
There’s certainly some good ideas, like treating microplastic ingredients (including cosmetic microbeads) as toxic pollution using the EU chemical regulation.
And it sets a target that by 2030, 100% of plastic packaging in the EU market will be reusable or recyclable, with a first legislative proposal in 2018 to tackle some single use items. Promising!
But again we find a text too focused on recycling. It’s all over the place. While reduction and reuse is hardly mentioned. Their target won’t be achieved without reducing the production and consumption of plastic packaging and single-use items, much of which are unnecessary in the first place and have already existing alternatives waiting to be scaled up.
Deposit return schemes are increasingly being implemented. Bulk stores are blooming in many places, water fountains are coming back to cities and public places, and reusable items are coming into fashion. But alternatives need to be backed up by bold and ambitious political measures.
So if you are a European citizen, watch out for changes in our legislations and be ready to ask your national government to ensure single-use plastic item bans are fast tracked as the crisis is urgent and the EU process can take years. It’s a real opportunity for change and we mustn’t let it slip!
And even if you’re not in Europe, we still need your support. In a globalised world, whatever happens in the European region will have impact in other regions, through companies headquartered in the EU, trade or by simply, and most importantly, setting an example for others to follow that ambitious measures can be taken to phase-out single-use plastic.
While we wait for the next political move, you can still do your part. Whether it be refusing straws, bags, using refillable bottles or taking community action. Every step counts, no matter how big or small. Pick yours and start today to join the movement! We can all #BreakFreeFromPlastic!
Elvira Jiménez is EU Plastics Project leader with Greenpeace Spain
Greenpeace is famous for campaigning against corporations.
We made “Choke” out of Coca-Cola's logo to draw attention to the massive plastic pollution impact they have around the world.
Polar bear hijacks Coke’s holiday advertising in London. 5 Dec, 2017
We stand in the way of imports of dirty cars and expose corporate misbehaviour wherever we encounter it.
The public image of Greenpeace is often one of "corporate bashers". We can indeed be pretty harsh and irreverent when calling attention to corporate misdeeds, like in this satire video.
Of course, we don't believe that everyone in a corporation thinks like the man in the video. There are many in business - and many businesses - that want to do the right thing for people and planet. We applaud them.
Greenpeace never says no without offering an alternative. We are so committed to getting the solutions our world needs adopted fast, that we are, at times, willing to praise corporations that are still part of the problem.
We'll say “well done” to Coca Cola for eliminating climate damaging refrigerants from their cooling equipment because it benefits our climate and future generations. But we do so in the context of us demanding more fundamental change. And we do so at the very same time as we campaign against them on plastic pollution.
We have “no permanent friends or enemies”. That's part of our core values - and it works to achieve change. The work with Coca-Cola to eliminate climate damaging gases, for example, also started as a brand jam when they were providing the “green Sydney Olympics” with cooling equipment that destroyed our climate.
Campaign against the use of HFCs in fridges by the Sydney Olympics sponsor, Coca-Cola. 14 Jun, 2000
It’s a fact, though, that corporations who misbehave are too rarely punished - and too often have captured our political leaders. The public good - our planet, our future - is the loser.
You can see that clearly in our new report Justice for People and Planet, which showcases 20 case studies of corporate capture, collusion and impunity. The report describes how some corporations have abused and violated human and environmental rights around the world. The examples are as shocking as they are diverse, ranging from deforestation, water and air pollution, plastic pollution, or waste dumping, to chemical spills, nuclear disaster, violations of Indigenous rights and more.
The report argues that it is the rules that govern our global economy (and lack thereof) that are the real reason behind such corporate misdeeds. Economic globalisation has created significant governance gaps. There are no enforceable social and environmental global rules governing global economic players.
That we lack these rules to deliver a sustainable and fair economy worldwide is the result of specific political choices by our leaders. The cases presented in our report show that corporate impunity for environmental destruction and human rights violations is a result of the current economic and legal systems.
The failure to protect human rights and the environment is often caused by state institutions and decision-makers being captured by specific corporate interests. This all too often leads to politicians failing to pass binding laws and failing to ensure corporations are held to account.
There is a different way. Effective state action could end corporate capture and close the governance gap. Global regulations with teeth are clearly possible – they exist! The World Trade Organisation, for example, can sanction countries that break its rules.
We need similarly strong roles for the environment and human rights. That’s why we're putting forward 10 Principles for Corporate Accountability:
- People and the environment, not corporations, must be at the heart of governance and public life.
- Public participation should be inherent to all policy making.
- States should abandon policies that undermine environmental and human rights.
- Corporations should be subject to binding rules both where they are based and where they operate.
- States should require due diligence reporting and cradle to grave responsibility for corporate products and services.
- States should promote a race to the top by prohibiting corporations from carrying out activities abroad which are prohibited in their home state for reasons of risks to environmental or human rights.
- States should create policies that provide transparency in all corporate and government activities that impact environmental and human rights, including in trade, tax, finance and investment regimes.
- Corporations and those individuals who direct them should be liable for environmental and human rights violations committed domestically or abroad by companies under their control.
- People affected by environmental and human rights violations should be guaranteed their right to effective access to remedy, including in company home states where necessary.
- States must actually enforce the regulatory and policy frameworks they create.
You can find much more detail about these principles (and why they are needed) in the report itself.
And you can, like us, take heart in some steps in the right direction that are already underway: France, recently required corporations to identify potential risks to people and the environment as a result of their activities, and act to prevent harm to people and the environment.
Switzerland is gearing up for a people’s referendum that would legally oblige corporations to incorporate respect for human rights and the environment in all their business activities.
New specialised laws such as the UK’s Modern Slavery Act also require businesses to tackle slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.
All these show how governments can make rules with teeth to govern corporate activities around the world. If they want to.
Statue of Justice Activity in Davos. 18 Jan, 2018
A more just and sustainable world is possible. If all who want a livable planet push for it - together. Are you in?
Daniel Mittler is the Political Director of Greenpeace International