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Greenpeace news

Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 25.04.2015 22:44:27
  • Renewable energy for all: How an Indian village was electrified

    Children sit under solar panels at Bishunpur Tolla, Dharnai village. A solar-powered micro-grid is now supplying electricity to the village. 06/22/2014 © Vivek M. / Greenpeace

    Let's accept it. Climate change is a reality and current and future generations are up against the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced. Yet some people believe that there is a trade-off between combating climate change and delivering development for the people. Around this year's Earth Day, it is time to explode this harmful myth. It's time to accept that the key to dealing with both poverty and climate change is energy security. And that energy security can be achieved without fossil fuels.

    On a global level renewable energy is winning the race against fossil fuels as more clean-power capacity is being installed than coal, oil and gas together. Solar power is growing faster than even we at Greenpeace predicted, and renewables are now the cheapest way to provide more electricity in an ever-growing number of countries.

    Dharnai, a solar-powered village in India, shows how we can make the renewables boom deliver for all -- including the rural poor. Dharnai is located in Bihar, one of the poorest provinces in India. It did not have access to electricity for 30 years before a solar mini-grid was installed with the support of Greenpeace India in July last year.

    The village faces extreme poverty, deep caste divisions and very high illiteracy rates. But life in Dharnai has been transformed in the last 10 months since an affordable solar-energy grid arrived. Dharnai is the first village in India where all aspects of life are powered by solar. The 100-kilowatt (kW) system powers the 450 homes of the 2,400 residents, 50 commercial operations, two schools, a training center and a health-care facility. A battery backup ensures power is available around the clock.

    Solar-powered lighting means children can now go out and play after school and finish their homework after sunset. Women feel safer venturing out after dark and families at home do not have to spend time in darkness. The arrival of solar-powered water pumps has brought new hope to many farmers in improving access to fresh-water resources. With solar energy, more villagers have been able to recharge their mobile phones regularly, and so the solar grid has also opened up Dharnai to the world of the Internet.

    This is just the beginning. Improvements in the quality of life of Dharnai's residents have become the talk of neighboring villages that are eager to understand and replicate the Dharnai model. India has 80,000 other villages that also need solar micro-grids.

    That is why it is so important that Greenpeace India continues to work for a better life for India's citizens and to help deliver clean, reliable electricity for all. Dharnai shows what real development -- development that doesn't cost the Earth -- looks like. It is this kind of sustainable development that Greenpeace India stands for. And it shows the absurdity of recent suggestions that Greenpeace in India is acting against India's national interest.

    Ironically, Greenpeace India's work to bring energy to Dharnai has been rewarded with brickbats rather than bouquets by India's recently elected government. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended Greenpeace India's ability to receive foreign donations and has also frozen the organization's domestic accounts.

    Even as my Indian colleagues prepare to answer the MHA's allegations, in court if necessary, the Indian government's actions beg the question -- how does delivering electricity to a village that had none, or advocating for clean air, safe food, protecting forests and legally sanctioned rights equate to undermining economic interests?

    But the story of Dharnai goes well beyond India. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide live without electricity. For them, the Dharnai solar-powered micro-grid could be a game-changer, a model for bringing clean, reliable energy to all.

    Communities without electricity, and their governments, can make a leap forward by setting up their own renewable-power systems. They can avoid the pollution from coal-burning power plants and build a clean-energy system that local communities own and control.

    If all of us put our efforts into achieving a renewably powered world, we can conquer climate change and vastly improve the livelihoods of people in even the poorest regions. That is the message of Earth Day in 2015. That is the message of Dharnai.

    Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

    To learn more about Dharnai, please visit: dharnailive.org.

    This post is part of a Huffington Post What's Working series on the environment. The series is putting a spotlight on initiatives and solutions that are actually making a difference -- whether in the battle against climate change, or tackling pollution or other environmental challenges. To see all the posts in the series, read here.

  • From Bangladesh to the world: Who made my clothes?

    Two years ago today, one of the worst industrial incidents took place in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Over 1,000 people died and over 2,500 injured when Rana Plaza, a clothing factory supplying global fashion brands, collapsed.

    The tragedy is the result of an industry in a constant race to get products on the racks – and to hell with regulations… to hell with the cost to workers and the environment.

    But two years on today, we say enough is enough. We need a Fashion Revolution.

    Last year, thousands of people around the world joined Fashion Revolution and turned their clothes inside out as call for transparency to the industry. This year we ask again: who made my clothes?

    Fashion should be about challenging the status quoImage courtesy of Fashion Revolution 2015.

    The need for change.

    There are many dirty secrets in the fashion industry's wardrobe and the use of toxic chemicals is just one part of a bigger story we at Greenpeace are trying to rewrite with your help.

    We believe a responsible company must be accountable for all ethical issues in their supply chain. There have been many groups and NGOs fighting to ensure the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy are fairly compensated, and sadly nearly two years later, the fund from where this compensation would come from is still falling short.

    We do not accept anyone trying to escape from their responsibility from this tragedy and I believe it's long overdue for all companies involved to fully compensate victims.

    While supply chains are often incredibly complex, fashion companies have the power to change the way they make and source our clothes – through their choices of suppliers, the design of their products and the control they can exert, for example, over the use of chemicals in the production process and the final product.

    I believe there's hope.

    Over 30 companies, from Aldi to Zara, have committed to Detox. And just looking at the textile sector alone, 18 major fashion companies representing 10% of the retail fashion industry have begun eliminating toxic chemicals. This is having a ripple effect across the world.

    The system can change. I have seen with my own eyes factories in China, for instance, that are cleaning the water discharged into public waterways – this is to the hundreds of thousands of people joining the Detox movement and demanding brands clean up their act.

    This is what hundred of thousands of people can do when they are united in the belief that beautiful fashion should not be tainted by an ugly story of death and destruction.

    Who made my clothes?Image courtesy of Fashion Revolution 2015. Photographer: Rachel Manns

    Take action

    Our friends at Fashion Revolution are creating a social media storm. Join us and find out who made your clothes.

    1. Take a selfie showing your label.

    2. Upload your photo with this message: I want to thank the people who made my clothes @[brands name] #whomademyclothes

    3. Spread the word by tagging three of your friends and ask them to do the same

    Find out more here: http://fashionrevolution.org/

    Yixiu Wu is the Detox My Fashion campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

  • How do systems get unstuck?

    Human enterprise appears stuck, like an addict, in habitual behaviour. We have plenty of data alerting us to global heating, declining species, disappearing forests, and rising toxins in our ecosystems. Yet, after decades of efforts to reverse these trends and some notable achievements — whaling moratorium, ocean dumping ban, renewable energy projects — the key trends appear evermore troubling. [1]

    In December, 2014, I attended a conference hosted by the International Bateson Institute (IBI) and Centro Studi Riabilitzione Neurocognitiva Villa Miari, a clinic for paralysis patients in Schio, Italy. We observed therapeutic methods employed at Centro Studi to help us consider links between these methods and a efforts to address the ecological paralysis apparent in our social systems.

    Arctic oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer. Photo by Vincenzo Floramo

    The Bateson Institute is named after genetics pioneer William Bateson and his son, anthropologist and systems theorist Gregory Bateson. Gregory once famously remarked in Steps to an Ecology of Mind that "The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think." He suggests that if we are going to resolve our ecological challenges, we must rethink, not only our social systems, but our habitual ways of thinking.

    At Schio, we asked: Can the healing of paralysis in the body, a healing that requires a full-systemic reformation, provide us with ideas about how to approach the challenge of changing human society?

    Clinic founder Dr. Carlo Perfetti has developed paralysis rehabilitation therapies based on systems theory, particularly on the ecological and physiological work of Gregory Bateson [2] and Pyotr Anokhin [3]. Dr. Perfetti devised systemic therapies that treat the whole person, consider the patient's mental context, memory, physical environment, setting, language, and other factors.

    Healing takes place with active patients, fully involved in the process, with mental states and an environment that will influence the outcome. We now know that the actual actions of organisms follow continuous internal feedback, analysis, comparison to goal, response to environment, and readjustment. Most of this process remains subconscious.

    Living beings appear comprised of co-evolving systems, sub-systems, and super-systems that interact, adjust to conditions, and reach states of dynamic homeostasis that endure over time through internal feedbacks and self-regulation. Biological and social evolution are not linear processes, but rather co-evolving, self-referencing processes. Knowing this may help us understand how to influence social transformation.

    A real, living system — including a society at risk — must coordinate and integrate a range of inputs from interacting components. This feature of systemic change, Integration, matches Gregory Bateson's first criterion of mind and nature: They are both an aggregate of interacting components. [4] Contrary to the traditional Cartesian assumption that these components could be isolated and analyzed in linear sequence, we understand now that living organisms, ecosystems, or societies, operate as an integrated whole. How can this help us change society?

    Anti-Nuclear protest, Rocky Flats, Colorado, 1978. Photo by Rex Weyler

    One characteristic of system integration reveals that no single component can control the system. A ruling dictator can dominate a society, but cannot control the outcome of that dominance, which may be revolution. Humans can influence global weather with geo-engineering, but cannot control the weather system's response to that interference. Likewise, an activist may protest against injustice, but cannot control the society's response to that protest. Smart protesting, then, would take this integration of systems into account.

    This sort of analysis may seem a bit too intellectual for serious activists. Why not simply confront the system and let the chips fall where they may? Well, we've tried that. Being right does not guarantee success. We may need to think more deeply about how systems actually change.

    Action in a system — as pointed out by Bateson — is triggered by recognizing a significant difference. Furthermore, the message of this difference is sent by code through the system. [5] When Greenpeace boards a Shell Oil ship heading for the Arctic, this is a coded message. Simply reciting global heating data would not be as effective. Speaking in dramatic code, delivering the "mind bomb," has been the core of Greenpeace strategy from the beginning and dates back to Gandhi and civil rights activism. If the coded message is clever enough, no explanation is necessary. Boarding an oil drilling rig or blocking a whaling ship speaks for itself.

    The "significant difference" communicated to the system by these actions might be: Peace vs. War or a sustainable human future vs. an overheated planet. This difference must be clear or the system will not respond. Systems change because the whole system recognizes the "significant difference," which creates what health science calls a "motivation" for change. However systems experience multiple and often contradictory motivations. I may want to lose weight, but I love almond croissants! We want a sustainable world, but we don't want to give up private cars. To change, all systems must confront contradictory motivations.

    Tightrope Walker: Climate action at the Gorner Glacier in Switzerland Photo by Christian Schmutz

    The system has to chose an action, among countless options, that will help it achieve a new dynamic equilibrium. In physical and social systems, many of these choices remain subconscious and the effects will be complex and non-linear. The system undergoes continuous feedback to measure behaviour against a goal, which itself may undergo change during this process.

    Memory and expectation also impact this complex process. One of the patients undergoing treatment at Centro Studi had been a former basketball player. While the patient recalled the memory of a sports movement from his youth, the practitioner moved the patient's arm, connecting memory to current action. The system's own memory can serve as a model or visualization of action. Components of the system can respond to this visualization at both conscious and subconscious levels. Similarly, we might see that understanding culture is critical in social change, because culture carries the images from these social memories.

    The dark side of memory, of course, is that habitual action may hinder change. Habitual memory may keep a society stuck, but deep within our social memory, there may exist experiences that can serve as models of genuine change. We may witness this in modern social change movements that learn from ancient, indigenous, pre-industrial societies.

    Exploratory adaption

    In a 2015 study, at McGill University in Canada, M. Szyf and E Abouheif [6] manipulated an environmental factor (DNA methylation) to achieve size variations in ants with identical gene sequences. The study shows that genes may not directly determine a physical characteristic, but rather express tendencies in response to environmental conditions.

    Recent studies in "social genomics" show that gene expression also responds to social environments. According to a review paper by S. W. Cole at the UCLA School of Medicine, the human genome possesses "social programs to adapt molecular physiology to the changing patterns of threat and opportunity ancestrally associated with changing social conditions." [7] The larger environment of a system provides a framework for integrating responses to stress.

    Change in nature is neither random, nor determined, but remains dynamic and exploratory. Under environmental stress, a cell explores new ways to shape physiology. A 2014 study by Erez Braun [8] at the Network Biology Research Laboratories, in Haifa, Israel, found that biological cells allow for flexibility of response, redesigning for new environments using "exploratory adaption."

    Braun exposed cell populations to environmental stress that they had not encountered during their evolutionary history. Rather than selecting from random mutations, new cell states emerged, not strictly determined by the genome, but through an exploratory process to discover alternatives. We might want to compare his findings with the case of a successful human species that finds itself in a world so altered by its own success that its survival appears at risk.

    We may realize, for example, that the goals of a society, as a semi-bounded system, are not necessarily the goals of any individual. A society, similar to a body, may be compelled to survive, and thrive in ways that remain unconscious to individuals and groups. Under stress, the internal language of the system may explore for alternatives that are not "chosen" by individuals. Different components may experience the stress signals differently, and may have divergent and contradictory goals. Any number of these contradictions could be a source of paralysis in a social system.

    Although we we may not be able to precisely match the functions of cells, organisms, and societies, we may observe patterns that connect intention to outcome, and we may glimpse some explanations for social "stuckness." The systemic perspective suggests that isolated efforts of piecemeal ecology — segregated sanctuaries, local bans on toxins, carbon taxes, and so forth — may not slow the large-scale overshoot of human activity.

    It is possible that to influence the path of the larger society, an individual or group may find it useful to speak in metaphors, parables, stories, legends, and archetypes that aid the adaptive explorations of that society. This may help explain why reciting data about global warming, or posting millions of social media rants, fails to move society at a deep enough level to inspire genuine change. If we understand how living systems actually change, we may avoid well-intentioned but insufficient and counter-productive actions.

    In 2009, for example, the popular Avatar film may have had more impact than environmental groups in helping turn society toward sustainability. Boycotting climate conferences may say more than going and protesting. Agents of change in society could benefit from re-examining their strategies to address the systemic nature of change.

    Protest at Cop15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, 2009. Photo by Kristian Buus

    Change agents have to play a role as teacher or guide, helping the whole system — person or society — play creatively with their potential to reorganize the system to a new state, which may be a return to a remembered state. A body, or a society, is not a machine and cannot be "fixed" as a machine. The "patient" including a society in distress, experiences change as a whole, integrated system.

    Relationships

    We are attempting to discover new ways of thinking, new language and actions that might help society free itself from habitual behaviour. When the context changes, and a learned trait no longer serves the system, how does the system discover a new context? Can we learn lessons from healing modalities that will inform us about ways to influence modern, industrial societies facing ecological crisis?

    In the spirit of "exploratory adaption," we may certainly attempt to make these sorts of comparisons. The environmental movement, frustrated by the pace of genuine ecological progress, after a half century of environmental action, may at times appear somewhat like the family of an alcoholic, gazing upon the limits of its habitual strategies.

    Integration of components stands out as an obvious, initial feature of an effective change agent's method, learning to amalgamate, blend, and employ all potentials of the system. Treat the whole system, not the symptoms. Accept the fact that the system-in-full will have to participate, and that the system's worldview, sensations, feelings, memory, stories, and expectations will influence the effectiveness of any action.

    In systems, relationships comprise the change, not individuals. Relationships are what endure in nature, not individuals or components. Our language, as Gregory Bateson observed, is biased toward things, against relationships. We say "the table is hard," conferring "hardness" upon the table, but this "hardness" can only be experienced when the table stops some momentum. Hardness is only one half of a relationship. Likewise, our language and thinking about change, has to be a language of relationships, not things. A river is not a thing. A river is a process. Likewise, a body, a forest, or a society is a process, not a thing.

    Society does not necessarily transform in the course of single human lifetime any more than a body transforms in a single cell's lifetime. Agents of change must influence the context and then let that context find its new state of dynamic homeostasis. No one controls the outcome of an action.

    Villagers from Mahan, India, being arrested along with Greenpeace activitsts and volunteers for protesting coal mine plans

    In the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, the term karma means action. The response to actions are not isolated in time, but reverberate throughout the entire system. Karma does not mean that my ego will be reborn as a new version of me, but rather that every action is a participation in a living, dynamic system, and that action will influence the system in ways not intended by the actor, including feedback on the actor. In modern politics and media theory, we call this "blowback." This is system feedback, helping the system analyze and redirect its actions.

    Feedback means that we are engaged, at every step of transformation, in two-way storytelling, in messages coded and launched into the system, which then get variously interpreted and fed back as messages that influence actions of other components. Thus, the effective change agent works with metaphor, and we hear this in the parables of sages and poets. Gandhi didn't recite poverty-line statistics or the Gini coefficient; he went into the poorest communities and helped, encouraged the poor to help others, and staged public events that exposed injustice.

    When a cell encounters a novel change in its environment, it responds with "exploratory adaption." When an adaption succeeds, it sends it's new coding into the pool of information that represents its new culture. Metaphor is the storytelling version of this exploration.

    Data won't change things. Sensations change process. A new story is the context that initiates change. The effective information — by a rehabilitation practitioner or change agent — is coded for a deeper reading by the system.

    If the change agent, however, presumes control, he or she becomes a dictator and ultimately fails. Absolute power does not exist. To work, the agent of change must play in the field of possibility, in the larger mystery that represents the complex forces that will result in a successful future state.

    Humility and modesty are the means to show respect for this mystery. Theory or vision without humility, becomes doctrine, and rigid doctrine always collapses under change. We may benefit as change agents if we acknowledge our humble place in the network of co-evolving systems.

    Thus, in healing, with genomes under stress, or with effective activism, one may witness a modest guidance, gentle touch, probing questions, a compassion that respects the entire system. The change agent takes an appropriate role, improvising, seeking a way to help the larger cause. We witness in these circumstances a sort of common decency.

    Anti-nuclear rally in Washington DC, 1980. Photo by Rex Weyler

    Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.


    References:

    [1] Johan Rockström, et. al., "Planetary Boundaries," Nature, v. 461, September 23, 2009. Anthony D. Barnosky, et. al., "Approaching a state shift in Earth's biosphere," Nature, v. 486, June 7, 2012. William Rees, "the Way Forward: Survival 2100," in Solutions, v. 3, #3, June 2012.

    [2] Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature, E.P. Dutton, New York,1979; and Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Jason Aronson Inc., New Jersey, London, 1972.

    [3] "La Teoria del Sistema Funzionale Nella Psicofisiologia di P. K. Anochin" (The Theory of Functional System in the Psychophysiology of P. K. Anokhin) M.G. Imperiali, et. al., Catterdra di psicologia, Universita di Roma.

    [4] Gregory Bateson, "Criteria of Mental Process," Mind and Nature, Bantam, New York, 1980, p. 102.

    [5] Bateson, Mind and Nature, p. 102.

    [6] S. Alvarado,R.Rajakumar, E.Abouheif, M. Szyf, "Epigenetic variation in the ​Egfr gene generates quantitative variation in a complex trait in ants," Nature Communications 6, Article n.6513, March 11, 2015.

    [7] S. W. Cole, "Social Regulation of Human Gene Expression,"Am J Public Health, 103:S84–S92. doi:10.2105/ AJPH.2012.301183; 2013.

    [8] Erez Braun, "The unforeseen challenge: from genotype-to-phenotype in cell populations," Rep. Prog. Phys. 78.

  • Celebrating ecologically farmed food in Nairobi

    On 25 April we will celebrate ecologically farmed food in all its splendour by hosting a fun food fair in the heart of Nairobi at Central Park.

    We will have an authentic Kenyan Cook-off contest, where the budding chefs will be challenged to only prepare dishes which have local East African varieties of crops in them. We’re talking about Cassava, Millet, Sorghum, and many others. 

    Products at Market in Senegal. 10/10/2014 © Guillaume Bassinet / Greenpeace

    And if you’re one of the lucky ones to join us on the day, you will be able to taste and judge some of these dishes! There will also be live music, and we are teaming up with Bridges Organic Health Restaurant to bring you the tastiest organic lunch in the city.

    At the fair, local farmers will also host an ecologically farmed food market. “Eco-log-ic-ally-Farmed, you say?”

    Yes! Greenpeace is campaigning for ecological farming in Africa; a farming model that works in harmony with nature – not against it. While chemical-intensive agriculture uses harmful pesticides and fertilisers, ecological farming is a knowledge-rich model of farming.

    We believe strongly that this continent needs to recognise and appreciate its farmers knowledge and marry that with modern, visionary approaches to improve produce and maintain soil fertility, while being kind to the climate.

    Ecological farming uses seven holistic and interconnected socio-ecological principles: food sovereignty, rewarding rural livelihoods, smarter food systems and higher yields, biodiversity, sustainable soil health, ecological pest control, and resilient food systems

    “It sounds incredible”, you say, “but where is the evidence that this kind of farming exists and works in Africa?” The answer is: Everywhere.

    In collaboration with the African Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA), Greenpeace has been documenting many of these cases of ecological farming solutions in Africa. In June 2014, the first set of these cases were publically launched in Dar es Salaam along with AFSA and Dr. Vandana Shiva.

    A woman inspects a crop of sorghum. 06/20/2013 © Sven Torfinn / Greenpeace

    To add to the overwhelming evidence that is backing ecological farming, on the 22nd of April we released a study which shows that Kenyan and Malawian farmers earn more from using ecological techniques instead of chemical inputs.

    Greenpeace wants to encourage agriculture donors in Africa to fund more research into ecological farming. More of such studies will create the necessary local knowledge and strengthen the best practices which are needed for East African farmers to thrive!

    Want to receive a copy of our Economic Resilience Report? Click here. 

    Taahir Kamal Chagan is a Food and Ecological Farming Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.

  • The grass is always greener on the other side (as long your neighbor doesn’t use Roundup)

    Pesticide Use in Spain. A worker without protective clothing only wearing a paper breathing protection sprays pesticides on vegetables in a greenhouse. 10/14/2005 © Greenpeace / Ángel Garcia

    Today is Earth Day, and approximately one month since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed-killer, probably causes cancer.

    In the Netherlands, where I live, spring is approaching and gardeners are getting their little corners of paradise ready for the growing season. Just the other day, clearing up my balcony, I noticed my neighbour, a lady in her seventies, handling, without protection, a green bottle of Roundup while working in the garden below. I couldn’t stop myself. I went downstairs and started telling her it was best to stop using the product immediately.

    Roundup is the world's most heavily used weed-killer. And while concerns that Roundup is toxic to humans have been mounting for two decades now, little has been done to prevent yet another man-made disaster from happening. The result: millions of acres of farmland, parks, gardens and sidewalks are sprayed with Roundup each year, and scientists have detected this probable human carcinogen in our air, rain and even inside our bodies.

    As concerned citizens, we need to urge our government to apply the precautionary principle and suspend the use of glyphosate where it results in the greatest public exposure, either directly or through residues in our food.

    Meanwhile a thorough re-assessment of glyphosate needs to be carried out. It needs to take into account the WHO decision and other independent studies. Ultimately, a plan must be devised to phase-out, not just glyphosate but all chemical pesticides, and move towards ecological farming, a chemical-free model based on the latest scientific innovations and farmer’s knowledge that delivers healthy food for people without harming the environment.

    If you are as concerned as I am, sign the petition.

    Patrizia Cuonzo is a media relations specialist with Greenpeace International.

  • Risky Business: Don't put your money in unsustainable fishing

    When we trust a bank with our savings and investments, we assume the bank will do only "good" with our hard-earned cash. Yet throughout Europe, and the world, major banks have ploughed massive amounts of money into unsustainable enterprises that are bad for the planet, including the destruction of our oceans. 

    Europe's fishing and seafood laws are changing – for the better. This is great for the marine environment and for those who choose to fish sustainably. It's not such good news for those who make their money from destructive or unselective ways of catching fish.

    Greenpeace wants to make bankers and investors aware of this new reality, which is why we're publishing Risky Business - Why Smart Investors Must Avoid Unsustainable Seafood Operations; to show how sweeping changes to the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will have a radical effect on the profitability of fishing companies that rely on a business model of overfishing and destructive fishing– and the seafood market in general.

    Under the new rules, fishing opportunities will be reduced for stocks that have been overfished and a 'no-discards' policy will be need to be observed, making unselective fishing operations more costly. EU fishing capacity will need to be brought down and higher sustainability standards applied to EU fishing vessels operating beyond Europe's waters.

    Purse Seiner Fishing in the Indian Ocean. 04/15/2013 © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

    The EU fishing community is being encouraged to shift towards environmentally sustainable methods. As a result, the net is closing on Europe's industrial fishing operators. Companies like France's Sapmer and Spain's Inpesca S.A and Albacora S.A have spent decades profiting from destructive fishing practices, weak fisheries policies, large subsidies and arguably naïve financial investments.

    Since 2009, Sapmer has invested heavily in the construction of at last eight new tuna purse seiners for operation in the Indian Ocean. In 2012, France's L'Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD) lent €13 million to Sapmer for construction of tuna purse seiner Belouve.

    Previously, in 2010, BRED and Banque de la Réunion Groupe BPCE loaned Sapmer €75 million to construct three tuna purse seiners.  The UK's Barclays Bank also loaned €4.25 million to one of Sapmer's subsidiaries.

    Despite all this, Sapmer is in financial difficulties, reporting a €11.9 million loss in 2014, and has delayed plans to construct ten new tuna vessels. 

    Spain's BBVA loaned Inpesca S.A., owner of monster boatTxori Argi, €6.4 million in 2011. In 2012, the vessel was caught without a fishing licence in Mozambique's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and fined €1.2 million. It was released after BBVA guaranteed payment of the fine, but Mozambique's government was unable to cash the guarantee and asked the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to put the Txori Argi on the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated list. The case was settled in 2013 for $700,000 (€523,581).

    Kutxabank, BBVA, Banco Santander, Caixa Galicia (now merged known as Abanca) and La Caixa together loaned around €15.7 million Albacora S.A. as of December 2012. Albacora S.A owns the monster boats Albacora Uno and Albatun Tres: both vessels have been convicted of illegal tuna fishing activities in the Western Central Pacific.

    But worry not, financiers: the good news is that sustainable investment opportunities do exist, like selective, low-impact fishing operations – such as hand line and pole and line fisheries – which should benefit from greater access to fishing opportunities under the new CFP. The new rules foresee that access to fishing opportunities will be reorganised, moving to a system that is performance-based and incentivises low-impact fishing.

    This truly a wake up for the finance and banking sector, who have a real chance to become agents of positive change within the fishing industry. Clued-in investors should take note of the new cultures of ethical investment and divestment from unsustainable business that are taking hold across the world and begin transferring funding towards low-impact, sustainable fisheries businesses that ensure healthy oceans and healthy fisheries for the future.

    Risky Business - Why Smart Investors Must Avoid Unsustainable Seafood Operations

    Take a stance against the monster boat take-over, they are gobbling up the fish and it's not fair!

    Nina Thuellen is the fisheries project leader for Greenpeace in Europe.

  • Convention on Supplementary Compensation on Nuclear Safety does not protect you

    The Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) is an international nuclear liability regime governed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The convention, signed in 1997, but so far not in force for lack of interest, channels and pins absolute liability onto the operators of the nuclear power plant. In addition, it also acts as a pool from where signatory countries can draw funds if necessary in case of a nuclear accident. With Japan signing and ratifying CSC in January this year, it came into force on 15 April.

    Many nuclear reactor and equipment supplying companies would want you to believe that the sole purpose of CSC is to help you receive your compensation quickly and speedily after you are hit by a nuclear accident. However, this is not true. The CSC was not created to protect your interest and your rights, but in fact it was created to shield multibillion dollar nuclear reactor manufactures and suppliers from their responsibilities. These companies don't want to be held liable for damages caused due to an accident at any of their inherently dangerous nuclear plants and hence hide behind the protective shield of CSC.

    In the 1980s, India did not have any law to deal with liability and damages caused by industrial accidents and then was hit by the Bhopal catastrophe. Many countries around the world including the US, did not have such a law either. However immediately after the gas leak tragedy in Bhopal, Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, ordered an inquiry. As a direct consequence of Mr. Waxman's actions, there is a law in place that protects citizens of the US from such chemical leaks.

    India's Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) bill was tabled in the parliament in 2010, the same year in which a Bhopal court convicted 7 union carbide officials for causing death due to negligence. Since the verdict came more than 25 years after the gas tragedy, it aroused national and international interest. 2010 was also the same year when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused the world's largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say that these events influenced the CLND to a great deal and this is how clause 17 was incorporated in the Act.

    Clause 17, in simple language, states that the operator shall have the right to sue the supplier if the accident was the fault of a manufacturing defect. In other words, it states that if a GE Hitachi plant in India were to explode due to manufacturing or design defect, the Indian nuclear operator would have the right to sue GE Hitachi for damages. Wouldn't you agree that this clause is a fair one to have?

    Companies such as French Areva and EdF, US's Westinghouse, Japan's GE Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi, Canada's SNC Lavalle / AECL and Russia's Rosatom don't think it's fair to allow operators this right to recourse. They say that India should change its law in accordance with CSC. These companies have been pressurizing the Indian Government since the time Indian Parliament enacted the law. Foreign diplomats and dignitaries such as Canadian Consul General Richard Bale openly criticised India and asked the Government to "tweak the liability law". Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Former French President Sarkozy asked India to follow the international liability regimes. A senior official from the Obama administration asked "India to ensure that its nuclear liability regime conforms with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage".

    Just few months after India passed its nuclear liability law, on 11th of March 2011, Japan suffered a triple meltdown nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A Japanese Government's investigation report stated that negligence as well as fault in design was what caused Fukushima nuclear disaster and not the earthquake or the tsunami. The cost of Fukushima crossed $100 billion but since Japan did not have a nuclear liability law, it was the taxpayers who've had to pay, and many of the victims still suffer under inadequate compensation. Whereas GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, the companies that designed and built the Fukushima reactors have not had to stand up and pay for their responsibility.

    Just over a year after the Fukushima nuclear accident, the President & CEO of GE Hitachi Canada wrote to the Canadian authority reviewing consultations for a new nuclear liability law in Canada, making arguments why nuclear suppliers should be indemnified from liability. In his letter dated May 28 2012, he wrote, "In the event of a nuclear accident involving one of Canada's reactors – all of which are along the US border – there would likely be a flurry of legal actions against several parties, particularly those with deep pockets like GEH Canada". Notice the use of word "deep pockets" here.

    He further wrote, "That is exactly what happened in 1984 when an accident at a chemical plant in Bhopal, India, resulted in multiple lawsuits in US courts against Union Carbide, the parent of the Indian company where the accident occurred".

    Mr. Mason used Bhopal as an example to enforce his statement about companies with "deep pockets". In just a few words, Mr. Mason discredited the legitimate demands of the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy. Being one of the worst industrial disasters of our time, Bhopal is the very reason why we should have supplier liability. To date, GE Hitachi also has to apologize yet for its role in the Fukushima catastrophe.

    After having witnessed the aftermath of Bhopal gas tragedy rather closely, I find Mr. Mason's statement very offensive. But when the stakes are so high, decisions can't be emotionally driven. It has to be logical and fair. If the fault is theirs then the responsibility should be theirs too. The only fair thing to do is to protect supplier liability in India and ensure other countries follow suit.

    (Greenpeace Condemns the New International Nuclear Liability Convention)

    Hozefa Merchant works as nuclear analyst for Greenpeace India.

  • Mexico 1 : New Zealand 0

    No, that's not a football score, it's the score-card on how our countries are faring in the protection of two of the world's smallest and cutest marine mammals: Mexico's vaquita porpoise and New Zealand's Maui's dolphin.

    New Zealand and Mexico share the dishonor of being responsible for the decline of the world's rarest marine dolphin and porpoise, both critically endangered with less than 100 animals left. The International Whaling Commission has criticised the lack of action by New Zealand and Mexico to protect these species.

    But thanks to people power, there's now a ray of hope for Mexico's vaquita. The Mexican Government this week announced the protected area – where harmful gillnet fishing is banned to prevent entangling and drowning vaquita – will be extended to cover the full 13,000 square kilometers of habitat. Navy speed boats and drones will police the area to combat illegal fishing.

    vaquita

    For years, Greenpeace and other NGOs in Mexico have been calling for urgent protection to avoid extinction of vaquita, which experts warned could happen by 2018. This latest great news shows that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto heard the call from 472,000 people around the world to save vaquita, and is taking action.

    Meanwhile, things are looking rather more grim in New Zealand. Because the protected area for Maui's dolphins covers only a section of their habitat, net fishing continues in other parts of their range. This leaves the critically endangered dolphins at risk of being tangled and drowned in nets; a risk the tiny population cannot afford. Tragically, only 55 dolphins over the age of one year are now left.

    New Zealand oil industry in maui's Dolphin habitat 2015

    As if to add insult to injury, New Zealand's pro-big-oil government recently announced new exploration permit areas for oil drilling right inside the Maui's sanctuary. Aside from the fact that this area is already too small to protect Maui's dolphins throughout their habitat, it can hardly be described as a "sanctuary" if oil companies are allowed in there to carry out drilling and seismic surveying, which involves loud underwater blasts every 10-15 seconds for days, weeks or months on end.

    The blasts, created by large underwater air guns, generate a pressure wave that penetrates the seafloor and the reflected sound waves are then recorded by an array of sensors dragged on long cables after the ship.

    These blasts can be heard over 100kms away and it's believed they could have chronic impacts on whales and dolphins' behaviour and ability to navigate, feed, nurture young and find mates.

    maui's dolphin

    New Zealanders have already expressed their outrage at the lack of government action to protect Maui's dolphins. Over the past three years there have been multiple 'public consultations' involving at least 70,000 submissions – almost all calling for full protection of the species. But in each case the Minister of Conservation has failed to heed the concern. Despite an earlier assurance that the sanctuary boundaries would be extended if dolphins were observed outside it, a recent verified sighting was dismissed by the Minister, apparently because there was a chance it might be a different species, Hector's dolphin (which is itself endangered, and also at risk from net fishing and oil drilling).

    The plight of the dolphins and our marine environment was also brought to the attention of oil execs in New Zealand for the annual Petroleum Summit last month. Inside the conference centre, Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges announced vast areas of ocean were open for exploration and drilling, including risky deep sea drilling. Outside the venue, activists held images showing the real human impacts of oil drilling and climate change and thousands beat drums and marched to protest against oil drilling in New Zealand waters.

    The recent move by the Mexican President to give vaquita a chance at survival shows that ordinary people can move the powers that be. So far however, New Zealanders' calls to protect Maui's dolphins properly have fallen on deaf ears. And it doesn't make sense. New Zealand is a country whose people take pride in its natural riches: Beautiful landscapes, unique wildlife and unspoiled oceans. Indeed the New Zealand economy relies heavily on tourism and its 'clean, green' reputation. As an island nation where 75% of the population live within 10kms of the sea, the ocean and its inhabitants are integral to the kiwi way of life.

    All this is being jeopardised and New Zealand risks becoming only the second country in the world to oversee the extinction of a dolphin species through human impacts.

    You can add your voice to the call to protect Maui's dolphin– let's see if people power can move prime ministers as well as presidents.

    Karli ThomasKarli Thomas is senior oceans campaigner with Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand. She has spent many months at sea in fishing grounds, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean and as far south as Antarctic waters. Karli coordinates Greenpeace's pirate fishing blacklist and works on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

  • Military spending: $1.8 trillion spent on the WRONG things

    Spanish Naval ship. 11/15/2014 © Javier Barbancho / Greenpeace

    I watched a short documentary last week about a young boy in Uganda named Locheng, who dreams of learning how to read and write (watch it if you can, it's only 12 minutes but is very powerful). Primary school in his village costs the equivalent of $14, which he cannot afford. So he just hovers outside the classroom – peeking in through the windows and trying to make sense of the strange script on the board.

    I thought about this boy when I read this morning that $1.8 trillion were spent last year on the military world wide, according to the latest figures by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

    This so-called 'defense' spending topples all other forms of government spending both domestically and internationally. For example, according to the 5 Per Cent Campaign, on average, industrialized countries spend three times as much on military as on education (in the US – it is six times as much). Many of the world's poorest countries and fastest growing economies spend much more on defense than on education or health. Military spending in Africa for example, has increased by 5.9% last year with Algeria and Angola (both major oil producers) leading the ranking. Sales of arms to Africa have increased by 45% since 2005.

    In contrast, education aid funding had dropped by 5% each year since 2009, rather than decreasing. Today, there are still 58 million children around the world without access to primary education. The cost of achieving universal primary education is $26 billion annually. This is equivalent to the amount spent each week on military activities by countries across the globe.

    This can't be right. Why are governments willing to allocate so much for preparing for war and maintaining their global and regional power status, and so little for preventing war and promoting true security?

    In October last year, the Pentagon launched a report, confirming that it now views climate change as an imminent risk and would factor it into operational day to day decisions. Former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (and a former climate change denier) then said: "Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, an