Greenpeace and its activities
Descriptions of non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 42 countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam. Analyze Greenpeace activities such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing and nuclear power.
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Greenpeace and its activities
Kate Martson 10 A Form
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 42 countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to "ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity". Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. The global organisation does not accept funding from governments, corporations or political parties, relying on more than 2.8 million individual supporters and foundation grants.
Greenpeace evolved from the peace movement and anti-nuclear protests in Vancouver, British Columbia in the early 1970s. On September 15, 1971, the newly founded Don't Make a Wave Committee sent a chartered ship, Phyllis Cormack, renamed Greenpeace for the protest, from Vancouver to oppose United States testing of nuclear devices in Amchitka, Alaska. The Don't Make a Wave Committee subsequently adopted the name Greenpeace.
In a few years Greenpeace spread to several countries and started to campaign on other environmental issues such as commercial whaling and toxic waste. In the late 1970s the different regional Greenpeace groups formed Greenpeace International to oversee the goals and operations of the regional organisations globally. Greenpeace received international attention during the 80s when the French intelligence agency bombed the Rainbow Warrior, one of the most well-known vessels operated by Greenpeace, killing one. In the following years Greenpeace evolved into one of the largest environmental organisations in the world.
Today Greenpeace focuses on worldwide issues such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling and nuclear power. Greenpeace is known for its direct actions and has been described as the most visible environmental organization in the world. Campaigns of Greenpeace have raised environmental issues to public knowledge and influenced both the private and the public sector but Greenpeace has also been a source of controversy. Its motives and methods have received criticism and the organization's direct actions have sparked legal actions against Greenpeace activists.
In the late 1960 s, the US had plans for an underground nuclear weapon test in the tectonically unstable island of Amchitka at Alaska. Because of the 1964 Alaska earthquake the plans raised some concerns of the test triggering earthquakes and causing a tsunami. Anti-nuclear activists protested against the test on the border of U.S. and Canada with signs reading "Don't Make A Wave. It's Your Fault If Our Fault Goes". The protests did not stop the US from detonating the bomb.
While no earthquake nor tsunami followed the test, the opposition grew when the U.S. announced they would detonate a bomb five times more powerful than the first one. Among the opposes were Jim Bohlen, a veteran who had served the U.S. Navy during the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Irving and Dorothy Stowe, a Quaker couple. As members of the Sierra Club they were frustrated in the lack of action by the organization. From Irving Stowe, Jim Bohlen learned of form of passive resistance, "bearing witness", where objectionable activity is protested simply by mere presence. Jim Bohlen's wife Marie came up with the idea to sail to Amchitka, inspired by the anti-nuclear voyages of Albert Bigelow in 1958. The idea ended up in the press and was linked to The Sierra Club. The Sierra Club did not like this connection and in 1970 The Don't Make a Wave Committee was established for the protest. Early meetings were held in the Shaughnessy home of Robert and Bobbi Hunter. The first office was opened in a back-room, storefront off Broadway on Cypress in Kitsilano, (Vancouver).
There is some debate as to who are the actual founders of The Don't Make a Wave Committee. Researcher Vanessa Timmer has referred the early members as "an unlikely group of loosely organized protestors". According to the Greenpeace web page the founders were Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, Ben and Dorothy Metcalfe, and Robert Hunter. The book The Greenpeace Story states that the founders were Irving Stowe, Jim Bohlen and Paul Cote, a law student and peace activist. An interview with Dorothy Stowe, Dorothy Metcalfe, Jim Bohlen and Robert Hunter identifies the founders as Paul Cote, Irving and Dorothy Stowe and Jim and Marie Bohlen. Paul Watson, who also participated in the anti-nuclear protests, maintains that he also was one of the founders. Another early member, Patrick Moore has also stated being one of the founders, but this claim is contradicted by an early apply letter from Moore to The Don't Make a Wave Committee.
Irving Stowe arranged a benefit concert (supported by Joan Baez) that took place on October 16, 1970 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. The concert created the financial basis for the first Greenpeace campaign. Amchitka, the 1970 concert that launched Greenpeace has been published by Greenpeace in November 2009 on CD and is also available as mp3 download via the Amchitka concert website. Using the money raised with the concert, the Don't Make a Wave Committee chartered a ship, Phyllis Cormack owned and sailed by John Cormack. The ship was renamed Greenpeace for the protest after a term coined by activist Bill Darnell.
In the fall of 1971 the ship sailed towards Amchitka and faced the U.S. navy ship Confidence. Even though the crew of the Confidence personally supported the cause of Greenpeace the activists were forced to turn back. Because of this and the increasingly bad weather the crew decided to return to Canada only to find out that the news about their journey and the support from the crew of the Confidence had generated widespread compassion for their protest. After this Greenpeace tried to navigate to the test site with other vessels, until the U.S. detonated the bomb. The nuclear test gained widespread criticism and the U.S. decided not to continue with their test plans at Amchitka. In 1972, The Don't Make a Wave committee changed their official name to Greenpeace Foundation. While the organisation was founded under a different name in 1970 and was officially named Greenpeace in 1972, the organisation itself dates its birth to the first protest of 1971. Greenpeace also states that "there was no single founder, and the name, idea, spirit, tactics, and internationalism of the organisation all can be said to have separate lineages".
First campaigns after Amchitka
After the nuclear tests at Amchitka were over, Greenpeace moved its focus to the French atmospheric nuclear weapons testing at the Moruroa Atoll in French Polynesia. The young organization needed help for their protests and were contacted by David McTaggart, a former businessman living in New Zealand. In 1972 the yacht Vega, a 12.5-metre ketch owned by David McTaggart, was renamed Greenpeace III and sailed in an anti-nuclear protest into the exclusion zone at Moruroa to attempt to disrupt French nuclear testing. This voyage was sponsored and organized by the New Zealand branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The French Navy tried to stop the protest in several ways, including assaulting David McTaggart. After the assault came in to publicity, France announced it would stop the atmospheric nuclear tests.
In the mid 1970's some Greenpeace members started an independent campaign, Project Ahab against commercial whaling, since Irving Stowe was against Greenpeace focusing on other issues than nuclear weapons. After Irving Stowe died in 1975, Phyllis Cormack left from Vancouver to face Soviet whalers in the coast of California. Greenpeace activists disrupted the whaling by going between the harpoons and the whales and the footage of the protests spread across the world. Later in the 1970s the organization widened their focus to toxic waste and commercial seal hunting.
Greenpeace evolved into a less conservative and structured collective of environmentalists who were more reflective of the counterculture and hippie youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The social and cultural background from which Greenpeace emerged heralded a period of de-conditioning away from old world antecedents and sought to develop new codes of social, environmental and political behaviour. Historian Frank Zelko has commented that "unlike Friends of the Earth, for example, which sprung fully formed from the forehead of David Brower, Greenpeace developed in a more evolutionary manner."
In the mid 1970's independent groups using the name Greenpeace started springing up world wide. By 1977 there were 15 to 20 Greenpeace groups around the world. At the same time the Canadian Greenpeace office was heavily in debt. Disputes between offices over fund-raising and organizational direction split the global movement as the North American offices were reluctant to be under the authority of the Vancouver office and its president Patrick Moore.
After the incidents of Moruroa, David McTaggart had moved to France to battle in court with the French state and helped to develop the cooperation of European Greenpeace groups. David McTaggart lobbied the Canadian Greenpeace Foundation to accept a new structure which would bring the scattered Greenpeace offices under the auspices of a single global organization. The European Greenpeace paid the debt of the Canadian Greenpeace office and on October 14, 1979, Greenpeace International came into existence. Under the new structure, the local offices would contribute a percentage of their income to the international organization, which would take responsibility for setting the overall direction of the movement with each regional office having one vote. Some Greenpeace groups, namely London Greenpeace and the US based Greenpeace Foundation however decided to remain independent from Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace consists of Greenpeace International (officially Stichting Greenpeace Council) based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and 28 regional offices operating in 45 countries. The regional offices work largely autonomously under the supervision of Greenpeace International. The executive director of Greenpeace is elected by the board members of Greenpeace international. The current director of Greenpeace International is Kumi Naidoo and the current Chair of the Board is held by Lalita Ramdas.
Each regional office is led by a regional executive director elected by the regional board of directors. The regional boards also appoint a representative to The Greenpeace International Annual general meeting, where the representatives elect or remove the board of directors of Greenpeace International. The role of the annual general meeting is also to discuss and decide the overall principles and strategically important issues for Greenpeace in collaboration with the representatives of regional offices and Greenpeace International board of directors.
Greenpeace receives its funding from individual supporters and foundations. Greenpeace was the first organization to use face-to-face fundraising in order reach new supporters since in the mid 1990's the number of older supporters started to decrease. In 2008, most of the €202.5 million received by the organization was donated by about 2.6 million regular supporters, mainly from Europe. Greenpeace screens all major donations in order to ensure it does not receive unwanted donations. The organisation does not accept money from governments, intergovernmental organisations, political parties or corporations in order to avoid their influence. Donations from foundations which are funded by political parties or receive most of their funding from governments or intergovernmental organisations are rejected. Foundation donations are also rejected if the foundations attach unreasonable conditions, restrictions or constraints on Greenpeace activities or if the donation would compromise the independence and aims of Greenpeace.
In September 2003, the Public Interest Watch (PIW) complained to the Internal Revenue Service, claiming that Greenpeace USA tax returns were inaccurate and in violation of the law. PIW charged that Greenpeace was using non-profit donations for advocacy instead of charity and educational purposes. PIW asked the IRS to investigate the complaint. Greenpeace rejected the accusations and challenged PIW to disclose its funders, a request rejected by then-Executive Director of PIW, Mike Hardiman, because PIW does not have 501c3 tax exempt status like Greenpeace does in the U.S. The IRS conducted an extensive review and concluded in December 2005 that Greenpeace USA continued to qualify for its tax-exempt status. In March 2006 The Wall Street Journal reported that PIW had been funded by ExxonMobil prior to PIW's request to investigate Greenpeace.
Priorities and campaigns
On its official website, Greenpeace defines its mission as the following:
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by:
Catalysing an energy revolution to address the number one threat facing our planet: climate change.
Defending our oceans by challenging wasteful and destructive fishing, and creating a global network of marine reserves.
Protecting the world's remaining ancient forests which are depended on by many animals, plants and people.
Working for disarmament and peace by reducing dependence on finite resources and calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
Creating a toxic free future with safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in today's products and manufacturing.
Campaigning for sustainable agriculture by encouraging socially and ecologically responsible farming practices.
--Greenpeace International, Who we are
Greenpeace considers global warming to be the greatest environmental problem facing the Earth. Greenpeace calls for global emissions to peak in 2015 and to decrease as close to zero as possible by 2050. Greenpeace has taken part of the UN climate negotiations since 1989 and since 1990 called for greenhouse gas emission reductions via methods such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and stopping deforestation. Greenpeace was one of the first to formulate a scenario for climate change mitigation and according to sociologists Marc Mormont and Christine Dasnoy Greenpeace has played a significant role in raising public awareness of global warming. The organization has also focused on CFCs, both because of their global warming potential and effect on the ozone layer. In the early 1990s, Greenpeace developed a CFC-free refrigerator for mass production together with the refrigerator industry. United Nations Environment Programme awarded Greenpeace for "outstanding contributions to the protection of the Earth's ozone layer" in 1997.
Greenpeace currently demands that the industrialized countries should cut their emissions at least 40% by 2020 (from 1990 levels) and give substantial funding for developing countries to build a sustainable energy capacity, to adapt to the inevitable consequences of global warming and to stop deforestation by 2020. The most recent global warming mitigation suggestions from Greenpeace include a full legal text for a suggested international binding treaty on climate change mitigation, drafted together with other NGOs such as World Wide Fund for Nature and David Suzuki Foundation. Other mitigation scenarios from Greenpeace include a joint report with EREC: The Energy [R]evolution, which lays a roadmap for cutting GHG emissions from the energy sector with energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Using direct action, Greenpeace has protested several times against coal by occupying coal power plants and blocking coal shipments and mining operations in places such as New Zealand, Svalbard, Australia, and United Kingdom. Greenpeace is also critical towards extracting petroleum from oil sands and has used direct action to block the oil sand operations at Athabasca, Canada.
The Kingsnorth Court Case
In October 2007, six Greenpeace protesters were arrested for breaking in to the Kingsnorth power station, climbing the 200 meter smokestack, painting the name Gordon on the chimney and causing an estimated ?30,000 damage. At their subsequent trial they admitted trying to shut the station down but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change from causing greater damage to property elsewhere around the world. Evidence was heard from David Cameron's environment adviser Zac Goldsmith, climate scientist James E. Hansen and an Inuit leader from Greenland, all saying that climate change was already seriously affecting life around the world. The six activists were acquitted after arguing that they were legally justified in their actions to prevent climate change from causing greater damage to property around the world. It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a "lawful excuse" defence in court.
Both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian described the acquittal as embarrassment to the Brown Ministry. In December 2008 The New York Times listed the acquittal in its annual list of the most influential ideas of the year.
Greenpeace views the risks of nuclear power as too problematic for the environment compared to the benefits of nuclear power. The organization argues that the potential of nuclear power to mitigate global warming is marginal, referring to the IEA energy scenario where a fourfold increase in world nuclear capacity by 2050 would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 4%. According to Greenpeace the slow construction times, construction delays and hidden costs also limit the mitigation potential of nuclear power. Greenpeace views the construction of Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finland as an example of the problems on building new nuclear power.
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Since Greenpeace was founded, seagoing ships have played a vital role in its campaigns. Once the Rainbow Warrior III is completed (expected in 2011), the group will have six ocean-going ships, as big a fleet as some island nation's navies.
The First Rainbow Warrior
In 1978, Greenpeace launched the original Rainbow Warrior, a 40-metre, former fishing trawler named for the Cree legend that inspired early activist Robert Hunter on the first voyage to Amchitka. Greenpeace purchased the Rainbow Warrior (originally launched as the Sir William Hardy in 1955) at a cost of ?40,000. Volunteers restored and refitted it over a period of four months. First deployed to disrupt the hunt of the Icelandic whaling fleet, the Rainbow Warrior would quickly become a mainstay of Greenpeace campaigns. Between 1978 and 1985, crew members also engaged in direct action against the ocean-dumping of toxic and radioactive waste, the Grey Seal hunt in Orkney and nuclear testing in the Pacific. Japan's Fisheries Agency has labeled Greenpeace ships as "anti-whaling vessels" and "environmental terrorists". In May 1985, the vessel was instrumental for 'Operation Exodus', the evacuation of about 300 Rongelap Atoll islanders whose home had been contaminated with nuclear fallout from a US nuclear test two decades ago which had never been cleaned up and was still having severe health effects on the locals.
Later in 1985 the Rainbow Warrior was to lead a flotilla of protest vessels into the waters surrounding Moruroa atoll, site of French nuclear testing. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior occurred when the French government secretly bombed the ship in Auckland harbour on orders from Francois Mitterrand himself. This killed Dutch freelance photographer Fernando Pereira, who thought it was safe to enter the boat to get his photographic material after a first small explosion, but drowned as a result of a second, larger explosion. The attack was a public relations disaster for France after it was quickly exposed by the New Zealand police. The French Government in 1987 agreed to pay New Zealand compensation of NZ$13 million and formally apologised for the bombing. The French Government also paid ?2.3 million compensation to the family of the photographer.
The Second Rainbow Warrior
Greenpeace's second Rainbow Warrior ship arrives in Bali for the 2007 UN climate conference.
In 1989 Greenpeace commissioned a replacement vessel, also named the Rainbow Warrior (also referred as Rainbow Warrior II), which remains in service today as the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet. In 2005 the Rainbow Warrior II ran aground on and damaged the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines while inspecting the reef for coral bleaching. Greenpeace was fined $7,000 USD for damaging the reef and agreed to pay the fine saying they felt responsible for the damage, although Greenpeace stated that the Philippines government had given it outdated charts. The park manager of Tubbatha appreciated the quick action Greenpeace took to assess the damage to the reef.
environmental greenpeace nuclear deforestation
Greenpeace's ship MV Arctic Sunrise in the harbour of Helsinki.
Along with the Rainbow Warriors, Greenpeace has had several other ships in its service: MV Sirius, MV Greenpeace, MV Arctic Sunrise and MV Esperanza, the last two being in service today.
In June 2006, the Arctic Sunrise was banned from attending the 58th International Whaling Commission meeting in St. Kitts by the St. Kitts and Nevis Government citing national security concerns. Greenpeace's protests were discussed at the same IWC meeting with agenda item IWC/58/3, relating to their protest actions against Japanese whaling in the Southern ocean in December 2005 / January 2006, during which a collision occurred between a Japanese whaling ship and a Greenpeace ship, resulting in this resolution from the IWC.
Reactions to Greenpeace activities
Lawsuits have been filed against Greenpeace for lost profits, reputation damage and "sailor mongering". In 2004 it was revealed that the Australian government was willing to offer a subsidy to Southern Pacific Petroleum on the condition that the oil company would take legal action against Greenpeace, which had campaigned against the Stuart Oil Shale Project. In 2008 two Greenpeace activists investigating alleged corruption in the Japanese whaling program were detained by Japanese officials, held without charges for 23 days and interrogated for up to 12 hours a day while tied to a chair. The United Nations stated Japan had breached the human, civil and political rights of Greenpeace activists. According to Amnesty International the arrests and following raids on Greenpeace Japan office and homes of five of Greenpeace staff members were aimed at intimidating activists and non-governmental organizations.
Some corporations, such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Electricite de France have reacted to Greenpeace campaigns by spying on Greenpeace activities and infiltrating Greenpeace offices. Greenpeace activists have also been targets of phone tapping, death threats, violence and even state terrorism in the case of bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.
Early Greenpeace member Canadian Ecologist Patrick Moore left the organization in 1986 when it, according to Moore, decided to support a universal ban on chlorine in drinking water. Moore has argued that Greenpeace today is motivated by politics rather than science and that none of his "fellow directors had any formal science education". Bruce Cox, Director of Greenpeace Canada, responded that Greenpeace has never demanded a universal chlorine ban and that Greenpeace does not oppose use of chlorine in drinking water or in pharmaceutical uses, adding that "Mr. Moore is alone in his recollection of a fight over chlorine and/or use of science as his reason for leaving Greenpeace." Paul Watson, an early member of Greenpeace has said that Moore "uses his status as a so-called co-founder of Greenpeace to give credibility to his accusations. I am also a co-founder of Greenpeace and I have known Patrick Moore for 35 years.[…] Moore makes accusations that have no basis in fact".
A French journalist under the pen name Olivier Vermont wrote in his book La Face cachee de Greenpeace that he had joined Greenpeace France and had worked there as a secretary. According to Vermont he found misconducts and continued to Amsterdam to the international office. Vermont said he found classified documents according to which half of the organization's € 180 millon revenue was used for the organization's salaries and structure. He also accused Greenpeace of having unofficial agreements with polluting companies where the companies paid Greenpeace to keep them from attacking the company's image. Animal protection magazine Animal People reported in March 1997 that Greenpeace France and Greenpeace International had sued Olivier Vermont and his publisher Albin Michel for issuing “defamatory statements, untruths, distortions of the facts and absurd allegations”.
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