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Greenpeace news

Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 27.07.2015 23:23:13
  • 12 photos that got the world's attention

    The Quaker concept of bearing witness is one of the guiding principles of Greenpeace. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the images we produce.

    One of the founders of Greenpeace, Bob Hunter, proposed the notion of 'Mind Bombs' – when an image is so powerful it is like a bomb going off in your head.

    Today, in a world saturated by images, a photograph still has the power to move one to action. We take a look back through the lens at some of the Greenpeace images that have helped to change the world for the better.

    Crew of the Greenpeace - Voyage Documentation (Vancouver to Amchitka: 1971). 22 Sep, 1971 © Greenpeace / Robert Keziere

    In 1971, the environment movement became a modern cultural phenomenon with the formation of Greenpeace. Since then, the world has seen the environment become one of the planet's major concerns – never more so than today when we face catastrophic climate change.

    This is a photographic record by Robert Keziere of the very first Greenpeace voyage, which departed Vancouver on 15 September, 1971. The aim of the trip was to halt nuclear tests in Amchitka Island by sailing into the restricted area.

    The crew on board the ship formed the original group that became Greenpeace. Clockwise from top left, they are: Hunter, Moore, Cummings, Metcalfe, Birmingham, Cormack, Darnell, Simmons, Bohlen, Thurston, and Fineberg.

    Nuclear Waste Barrel Hits Inflatable in Atlantic Ocean. 6 Sep, 1982 © Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes

    Non-Violent Direct Action was foundational to Greenpeace as it became a movement of people willing to put their lives on the line for a greater good.

    In this photo, Greenpeace activists in inflatable boats protest against the dumping of nuclear waste by dumpship Rijnborg. Two barrels are dropped from the dump ship on top of a Greenpeace inflatable causing it to capsize and seriously injure Willem Groenier, the pilot of the inflatable.

    The dumping of nuclear waste at sea is now illegal thanks to actions such as these.

    Aftermath of Shipwreck after the Rainbow Warrior Bombing in New Zealand. 11 Jul, 1985 © Greenpeace / John Miller

    In 1985, the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French secret service agents, tragically killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. The ship and crew were in Auckland protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific.

    The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior caused global headlines, making people around the world realise the powerful forces that groups like Greenpeace were up against.

    Dismantling World Park Base. 1 Feb, 1992 © Greenpeace / Timothy A. Baker

    After a long and seemingly impossible campaign, Antarctica was declared a World Park, proving that dedication and never giving up will deliver results. This photo captures the final day of establishing the World Park Base in 1992.

    Action at Brent Spar Oil Rig in the North Sea. 16 Jun, 1995 © Greenpeace / David Sims

    This photo depicts Greenpeace's second occupation of Shell's disused North Sea oil installation in two months in 1995.

    With the campaign against the Brent Spar oil platform we saw how good strategies and determined action can change the world – the dumping of toxic materials in the North Sea is now banned.

    Whaling Expedition (Southern Ocean - 1999). 8 Jan, 2000 © Greenpeace / John Cunningham

    Greenpeace brought the reality of whaling to the world – and photography was an incredibly powerful medium for this communication.

    Here, a Greenpeace inflatable boat hooks onto a Japanese whaling boat while it is pulling a caught whale on board.

    Toxics E-Waste Documentation in China. 8 Mar, 2005 © Greenpeace / Natalie Behring

    Here, a small Chinese child is sitting among cables and e-waste, in Guiyu, China. This photo helped bring the world's eyes to the impacts of electronic waste.

    Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, the US and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards.

    This practice exposes the workers and communities involved in dismantling e-waste to serious, environmental problems, danger and health hazards. Greenpeace is strongly urging major manufactures to exclude toxic materials from their products.

    Climate Action Kingsnorth Power Station. 8 Oct, 2007 © Will Rose / Greenpeace

    This activist, part of the 2007 Kingsnorth action in the UK, went through a lengthy and historic trial resulting in acquittal.

    In the trial, the judge summated that the activists were taking action for the greater good of humanity by preventing CO2 emissions. The case has since been used as a precedent and shows a shift towards global climate justice.

    Firefighters Tragedy in Dalian. 20 Jul, 2010 © Lu Guang / Greenpeace

    In 2010, workers attempting to fix an underwater pump after a pipeline blast at the Dalian Port, China, ran into trouble. During oil spill cleanup operations, the workers struggled in thick oil slick, and tragically, one firefighter was killed.

    This image travelled the world as a defining photo of the dangers faced by workers associated with extractive industry.

    Philippine Purse Seine Fishing Operation. 12 Nov, 2012 © Alex Hofford / Greenpeace

    Diver Joel Gonzaga of the Philippine purse seiner 'Vergene' at work using only a single air compressor hose to the surface, in and around a skipjack tuna purse seine net, in the international waters of high seas pocket.

    Fish stocks are plummeting around the world, especially tuna stocks. Photos like this help capture and communicate the impact of overfishing.

    Oiled Brown Pelicans in Louisiana. 20 Jun, 2010 © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

    This powerful photograph shows adult brown pelicans waiting in a holding pen to be cleaned by volunteers at the Fort Jackson International Bird Rescue Research Center in Buras.

    These birds were covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead disaster. The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on 20 April, 2010 and sank after burning.

    Action against Gazprom's Arctic Drilling. 18 Sep, 2013 © Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

    The photo which brought the world's attention to the extreme measures the Russian authorities would take to protect their Arctic oil interests: a member of the Russian coast guard points a gun at a Greenpeace International activist as peaceful protestors attempt to climb the Prirazlomnaya, an oil platform in Russia's Pechora Sea which is operated by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

    The activists were there to stop the Prirazlomnaya from becoming the first rig to produce oil from the ice-filled waters of the Arctic.

    Greenpeace is a movement of people like you, standing up for our forests, oceans, and climate. Together, we're working towards a green and peaceful future where humans intellect results in sustainable innovation, not greed and destruction.

    Your world needs you – get involved.

  • Bold and beautiful solar projects from around the world

    China is building its largest solar plant covering 6,301 acres in the Gobi desert and with capacity to provide electricity to 1 million households!

    This is just another record breaker for China. But there's good reason.

    In a recent Greenpeace East Asia investigation, we found that air pollution levels have improved in the first six months of 2015, though still remain below global and domestic standards. Once completed the new solar plant will cut standard coal use by 4.26 million tonnes every year, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide by 896,000 tonnes and 8,080 tonnes, respectively, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.

    It's part of a global trend. Check out these other bold and beautiful solar projects from around the world. Which one is your favourite?

    PS20 Solar Tower Plant – Spain

    PS20 Solar Tower Plant. 24 Jun, 2011 © Markel Redondo / Greenpeace

    Looking more like a enlightened being bursting from a holy church, this tower which sits at Sanlucar la Mayor outside Seville, Spain can provide electricity for up to 6,000 homes. 

    Solar Systems on Hospital in Bihar - India

    Solar Systems on Hospital in Bihar. 8 Jul, 2010 © Harikrishna Katragadda / Greenpeace

    At Tripolia Hospital, Patna, India they have installed simple concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to create steam, which they use to sterilise all their medical equipment and laundry. The hospital also has solar photovoltaic systems to generate electricity for some buildings and outdoor lights, and solar thermal systems to create hot water for bathing patients and preparing medicine. The various solar systems also cater for the 200 staff who live on campus, as well as up to 250 inpatients.

    Solar Panels in the Aeroesbing Renewable Heat Station - Denmark

    Solar Panels in the Aeroesbing Renewable Heat Station. 27 May, 2015 © Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

    In Aeroe, a renewable energy island south of Denmark, straw is combined to solar panels to heat the cooperators. One third of the straw production of the island is thus used, heating 500 households. The area is also used as land for cattle grazing.

    Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant in Tangtse - India

    Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant in Tangtse. 31 Jul, 2010 © Harikrishna Katragadda / Greenpeace

    The 100 kWp stand-alone solar photovoltaic power plant at Tangtse, Durbuk block, Ladakh. Located 14,500 feet AMSL in the Himalaya, the plant supplies electricity to a clinic, a school and 347 houses in this remote location, for around five hours each day. 

    Solar-powered Reverse Osmosis Plant - India

    Solar-powered Reverse Osmosis Plant. 10 Aug, 2010 © Prashanth Vishwanathan / Greenpeace

    Parama Ram, 23, maintains the photovoltaic panels that power the desalination plant in Kotri Village, Rajasthan. The plant produces over 3000 litres of drinking water per day from the brackish groundwater reserves in the area. Parama lives above the plant and is one of its biggest advocates, personally persuading 100 of the 150 families that now collect the ‘sweet’ water to trust that the system was clean. Like many of the villagers, he would often have to drink the saline ground water before the plant was installed.

    Do you like these projects? Take action and demand an Energy Revolution in your country.

    Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia.

  • Greenpeace India: Undaunted, undefeated and unstoppable

    undaunted undefeated and unstoppable

    Greenpeace India ought to be finished by now. We've had our accounts frozen, our reputation smeared and our staff banned from travel. Mr. Rajnath Singh, the Minister of Home Affairs has done everything he can to shut down our offices, harass our staff and force us to close.

    But we're still here.

    Wondering why? Because we're still working for cleaner air, safe food and cheap, clean energy for all Indians. Thousands of people have helped us by donating time, ideas or money. Our staff have offered to work for free, while other groups have offered us desk space and even train tickets to keep our work alive. And at the end of May, we won temporary relief in the courts, a financial lifeline that will enable us to restart our campaigns.

    But despite the court judgment, the attack on our rights of freedom of speech, and freedom of association resumed within a week, with a new investigation into our legal registration as an Indian society.

    This morning, a media article cited Home Ministry sources referring to a notice from the registrar of societies in Tamil Nadu threatening the cancellation of Greenpeace India Society's registration over an alleged breach of the state government's regulations around registered societies. Greenpeace India has today issued a statement refuting these allegations.

    Among the various allegations listed in that article, it was also said that Greenpeace India had not yet responded to the Registrar.

    This is false.

    So once again - in the spirit of transparency - here is the correspondence between Greenpeace India and the relevant authorities. You can decide the truth of the matter for yourselves.

    Despite having been under constant attack from the Ministry of Home Affairs for over a year, we have found relief in the judicial process, and we have tremendous respect for the courts that have repeatedly upheld our rights to speak out on issues that matter to ordinary Indians.

    Now, we are faced with a new threat from the registrar of societies in Tamil Nadu – a threat that appears to be on direction from the Ministry of Home Affairs – and we will turn to the courts again.

    Greenpeace India has followed due process, preparing our paperwork and waiting for an appropriate opportunity to present our case in court. We are taking legal counsel and, as per correct protocol, will challenge these malicious allegations from the Tamil Nadu registrar in court. Only when the case has been accepted, we will be able to share more details.

    Today's malicious charges have once again proved a distraction from the very real projects we need to run to promote solar powered street lights, to reduce dangerous levels of air pollution, to protect India's forests and to campaign for safe food and ecological agriculture.

    The Ministry of Home Affairs continues with its pursuit of trying to persecute us with paperwork, forcing us to respond to ridiculous charges from every quarter, apparently hoping to prevent us from campaigning for a better India for everyone.

    But he will fail. Greenpeace India cannot be silenced.

    In fact, there are 101 things that Greenpeace India would rather be doing, than continuously having to defend ourselves in court. We'd like your help in pulling together a list that we'll send to Rajnath Singh – please post your ideas / thoughts in comments below. Keep them positive and non-violent.

    You can also help by telling Mr. Rajnath Singh, and the Ministry of Home Affairs to stop the attacks on Greenpeace India.

    Vinuta Gopal is the interim Co-Executive Director at Greenpeace India.

  • The Esperanza is on #misionvaquita

    Esperanza during Tour in Pacific Ocean. 11 Mar, 2015 © Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace

    The Esperanza is in the Gulf of California right now, patrolling the waters to document the continued and illegal presence of gill-nets. These fishing nets are mostly responsible for the rapidly declining numbers of vaquitas – the most endangered porpoise in the world. There are as few as 57 vaquitas left, down from around 200 in 2012.

    A vaquita in the Gulf of California. 19 October, 2008. NOAA/Wikimedia Commons.A vaquita in the Gulf of California. 19 October, 2008. NOAA/Wikimedia Commons.

    The vaquitas get caught up in these nets that are set to trap another endangered species called the totoaba. The totoaba's bladder is seen as a delicacy in China, and extremely attractive to smugglers. It can be sold for up to HKD 5 million (USD 645,000), according to a source in a Greenpeace East Asia investigation from May 2015.

    Despite the two-year moratorium on destructive gill-net fishing put in place by the Mexico government in early April, the protected area is still at risk.

    Gill-nets in the Gulf of California. 17 July 2015.Gill-nets in the Gulf of California. 17 July 2015.

    Greenpeace is urging the authorities to strengthen their enforcement of the marine reserve and demanding Hong Kong authorities create a task force aimed at protecting endangered species from being smuggled. The United States has also committed to strengthen customs to crackdown on illegal wildlife trade, but as in Mexico, enforcement is still weak.

    The Esperanza will remain in the Gulf until the end of the month, and will continue to bear witness to the endangered vaquitas' plight. So far they have found three nets.

    Follow the Esperanza's journey and crew here, and become an ocean defender, join #misionvaquita today!

    Maïa Booker is a Multimedia Editor for the Americas at Greenpeace.

  • Japanese Government – aided by the IAEA – puts nuclear victims at risk with forced resettlement scheme

    The worst nuclear disaster in a generation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – which began in March 2011 – is still very much an ongoing crisis that will not be solved for the many many decades. Most of the massive radioactive releases were carried out to the Pacific Ocean by the prevailing winds at that time of year. But, on the nights of March 15th and 16th, the winds turned, carrying an enormous amount of radiation inland. Fukushima prefecture, especially to the northwest of the crippled reactor site, was heavily contaminated.

    An unused school yard in Iitoi village, Iitate district, Japan. The area is still radioactive contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.14 Jul, 2015 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace

    The Japanese government is undertaking decontamination efforts with the intention of lifting evacuation orders by Mach 2017. But Greenpeace investigations have made a shocking discovery: in Iitate – one of the priority targets of the Abe Government’s plan – radiation dose levels are comparable to those inside the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Even more surprising, this was true even around homes that had already been supposedly “decontaminated.”

    What on earth would motivate the Japanese Government to do such a thing to the tens of thousands of nuclear victims and decontamination workers?

    To answer that question, it is first important to understand a bit of background on Iitate:  – referred to as IitateVillage – is actually a 200 km2 area of heavily forested hills, mountains, and lakes, interspersed with farm fields, and homes. It lies 28 – 47 km to the northwest of the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in the direct path of the heaviest on-land radioactive fallout.

    Although the Abe Government has stated on its website that it is “decontaminating” Iitate – even going so far as to say on the Ministry of Environment website that 100% of the forest has already been decontaminated – you have to dig through several different pages to discover that they are only referring to about a ¼ of the land area of Iitate.

    In other words, of the 200 km2 of Iitate Village only 56 km2 are targeted for decontamination. Of that fraction, most of the focus has been on fields, 10-20 m strips of forest either side of public roads, and in the small immediate area around people’s houses.

    Even the limited amount of targeted forest isn’t finished and will continue for at least another year or longer.

    And what strikes you when you see it is not just the swarms of workers raking away at the woodland floor and trimming blades of grasses by hand in these first 10-20m of forest along the roads, but the enormity of the vast mountains upon mountains of dense, lush forest stretching out behind them as far as the eye can see.

    You feel sorry for them. You also admire their intensive effort, meticulous work, and commitment. They are working in sweltering heat, in protective clothing, boots, gloves masks and goggles; not even their eyes are visible. And they are doing intense physical labor for almost no impact. Many of these workers are the residents of other impacted areas, like Minamisoma, who lost their jobs in farming, forestry, fishing or services due to the nuclear disaster. So many are working on their former home areas which are now heavily contaminated with radioactivity..

    It’s surreal. And it’s heartbreaking.

    On March 27, 2011, Greenpeace radiation investigations in Iitate had revealed extremely high levels of contamination, which led our organisation to urgently recommend to the Japanese government the immediate evacuation of the more than 6000 residents.Until that point, the residents of Iitate had been told that evacuation was not required. Evacuation did not begin until April 22. And still, eight weeks after the start of the accident, in early June, over 1200 people remained in Iitate. As a result, the people of Iitate were the most exposed to radiation of all citizens of Fukushima prefecture.

    Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.15 Jul, 2015 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace

    Iitate has since become an iconic area within the story of Fukushima: a constant reminder to the Japanese public and the international community that a major nuclear disaster is not confined to a small “emergency planning” zone around the reactor site. The impacts are far reaching, destroy entire regions and communities, rip people from the fabric of their lives, and cannot be repaired.

    Over four years after the triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to any nuclear restart. The country has been completely nuclear-free for nearly two years, thanks in large part to significant public opposition, in spite of the massive pressure from nuclear utilities and the Abe government on local city governments.

    However, these utilities are massively powerful and the Abe government is wholly in bed with them.

    In an effort to reduce public opposition, Abe has been pushing forward the pro-nuclear agenda to 'normalize' a nuclear disaster. If the public can be convinced that less than five years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, citizens can go home and return to life the way it was before the disaster – with no additional health risks – then that is a powerful argument against the majority of Japanese citizens who oppose  nuclear reactor restarts.

    The effort to minimize the impact of the disaster on the nuclear industry has been aided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency charged with the promotion of nuclear energy in its charter. The IAEA has sought to downplay the radiological risks to the population since the early days in 2011.  In fact, it produced two documents that can be said to have laid the foundation and justification for Abe’s current policy of de facto forced resettlement.

    The reality is this myth making requires that the people of Fukushima prefecture – especially the people of Iitate – be the sacrificial lambs for the nuclear industry. This is not only wholly unjust, but is a violation of their human rights. 

    Piles of bags containing contaminated soil, mud and grass are covered and separated at a site in Iitate village.  Members of the Greenpeace radiation monitoring team check contamination levels in Watari and in Central Fukushima City, three and a half years after the nuclear accident.27 Oct, 2014 © Noriko Hayashi / Greenpeace

    They have already been exposed to more radiation than any other population in the region.To deliberately force the people of Iitate, especially women and children, back to areas where dose rates reach up to 20 millisieverts per year puts them at significant, unacceptable, and unnecessary risk.

    After all, this is not the confusion that ensues after a nuclear disaster. This is a thought-out plan of forcing people back into their heavily contaminated former homes, no matter what the cost – both in wasteful, ineffective decontamination of these areas and in human health risks.

    Compounding the gross injustice of the Abe Government’s forced resettlement policy, by focusing on creating a myth of a return to normalcy – and therefore investing vast amounts in expensive and futile decontamination – it is therefore utterly neglecting the contaminated areas that were never evacuated. Rather than addressing this urgent need to reduce the radiation risks to these populations, whom are currently living in contaminated areas, the government is more interested in deceiving the public in Japan and globally by creating illusions in places like Iitate.

    What is clear is that the damage done to the people of Fukushima prefecture, and especially Iitate, is irreversible and irreparable. Their entire communities and way of life were destroyed by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, with no prospect for a safe return in the foreseeable future.

    At minimum, we as Greenpeace, demand: 1) no lifting of the evacuation order in Iitate; 2) Exemptions and Government support for those determined to return after having full and accurate information regarding the risks; and, 3) full compensation for their loss of livelihood, property, community, mental distress, and health risks incurred, so that they may fully support themselves to move forward to pursue whatever life they so choose.

    To keep the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in limbo, many crammed into tiny temporary housing cubicles, for nearly five years is inhumane. To force these citizens back into such heavily contaminated areas via the economic leverage the Government holds over them is a gross iniquity. And for the International Atomic Energy Agency to assist the Japanese Government in the propaganda war being waged on Fukushima victims not only undermines whatever credibility it may have, but amounts to it being an accomplice in a crime against the people of Japan.

    Kendra Ulrich is Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

  • You did it! Toxic chemical banned in EU textile imports

    A huge victory for Detox supporters came out of Europe this week as all EU member states voted to ban the toxic chemical NPE from textile imports. This decision closes a trade loophole that allowed clothing containing dangerous levels of NPE to enter the EU even though the substance is banned from regional manufacturing.

    So what exactly is NPE?

    Officially known as nonylphenol ethoxylates, NPEs are used in textile production as wetting agents, detergents, and emulsifiers. This toxic chemical then remains in the garment, released once you wash your clothing, breaking down to form toxic nonylphenol (NP). Nonylphenol is a persistent chemical with hormone-disrupting properties that builds up in the food chain and is hazardous even at very low levels.

    The wide use of NPE in the textile industry was brought to light by a Greenpeace International report, Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry. Released in 2011, the report initially drew huge media attention, as it pointed out a loophole in the EU’s REACH chemical regulations.

    And now it’s banned in the EU?

    The EU already bans NPE from use within its borders however it allows garments containing NPE to be imported. This ban will need to be adopted by the European Commission, which should happen in the upcoming weeks and will take effect within five years, allowing the fashion industry ample time to remove NPE from its supply chain.

    How will this affect the industry?

    Manufacturing countries such as China, rely heavily on their trade relationship with Europe.  For more than a decade, Europe has been China’s number one trade partner and China’s textile production needs that relationship to continue. That said, China’s textile industry needs to be more progressive in identifying and banning harmful chemicals from their products otherwise they will lose a key market.

    What’s next?

    Hundreds of thousands of supporters have called on high street brands such as Gap, Nike, and Diesel to clean up their supply chain. This is a huge win for a cleaner, toxic free future.

    We will continue to monitor this industry’s use of NPE but we still need your help. The Detox campaign is far from won and we need your support if we are going to have all hazardous chemicals banned from use in the textile industry. Greenpeace is calling on the brands and suppliers to become champions for a toxic free future, by eliminating all releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and their products.

    Take action.

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

  • There's slavery in the seafood industry. Here's what we can do about it.

    Rusting Fishing Vessel - Defending Our Oceans Tour. 4 Apr, 2006 © Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes

    There's no easy way to say this: The seafood at your local supermarket may be connected to slavery. It's heartbreaking.

    Fishing operators in over 50 countries around the world are crewing ships through human trafficking networks – using "debt bondage, violence, intimidation and murder to keep crews in line and maintain cheap seafood on supermarket shelves," according to one of many recent reports exposing this exploitation.

    An Associated Press investigation in Indonesia earlier this year uncovered evidence of astounding abuse, including crew being whipped with poisonous stingray tails and being kept in locked cages to prevent escape. In Thailand, survivors of forced labor told the Guardian of "horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings." And yesterday, the Guardian revealed how Rohingya migrants were being trafficked and sold into slavery on Thai fishing vessels.

    Unsurprisingly, the exploitation of people goes hand-in-hand with the exploitation of the oceans.

    Vessel operators who have little regard for labour laws often also have little regard for the environment or fisheries management regulations. Just days ago, the New York Times exposed one such vessel for both labour abuse and environmental crimes, and others for murder.

    Companies are increasingly motivated to employ cheap or forced labour and to fish illegally as fish populations dwindle from overfishing and demand for cheap seafood grows.

    From shrimp, to tuna, to pet food: the global seafood market is tainted with seafood caught unsustainably and by workers who have been denied their most basic human rights.

    Shrimp laborers in Thailand. Provided by International Labor Rights ForumImage provided by International Labor Rights Forum

    How can we ensure the seafood industry is fair to workers and the oceans?

    Labour abuse – like overfishing – is an industry-wide problem. In order to address it, we need real commitment from every party involved: governments, suppliers, vessel operators, seafood companies, and retailers.

    Ultimately, supermarkets that sell seafood must take their share of responsibility. If retailers are not careful about their seafood suppliers and policies, they may make themselves and their customers unwitting accomplices in forced labour or human rights abuses.

    But the vast majority of supermarket chains have historically ignored labour abuse concerns, instead of investigating where their seafood comes from.

    That's why last week, Greenpeace USA released the 2015 edition of the Carting Away the Oceans report, shining a light on which major grocery chains in the US are leaders in sustainable seafood and addressing human rights abuses in the industry, and which are falling behind.

    The findings are telling. While US retailers like Whole Foods are doing a better job of offering ocean safe seafood options, major chains like Walmart are linked to destructive fishing practices, and some companies are even linked to human rights abuses. Though several retailers have taken initial steps to address human rights concerns, all 25 retailers profiled in the report have significant work to do to.

    And it's not just a US issue. Seafood linked to human rights abuses and environmental destruction is present in the global seafood market – a problem everywhere.

    Shrimp at a fishing dock in Thailand. Provided by International Labor Rights ForumImage provided by International Labor Rights Forum

    What You Can Do

    Human rights violations and environmental exploitation are difficult to track down and stop at sea. Luckily, we can make a huge impact from far away by ensuring no one is profiting off this abuse. Here are five things you can do that make a mark on illegal and exploitative fishing.

    1. Demand that your seafood is not connected to human rights abuses. Companies care about what their customers think, so let your local store know you need them to do better when it comes to sustainable, socially responsible seafood. Wield your consumer power!
    2. Act together. Invite your community to take action with you. Inform your friends and encourage them to tell their grocers that they want only sustainable, socially responsible seafood in a store they patronise.
    3. Know the facts. If you shop in the US, you can visit seafood.greenpeaceusa.org to learn the truth about your favourite US supermarkets and what these companies must to do improve. If you eat canned tuna in the US, you can find out which brands are ocean safe in this guide.
    4. Vote with your wallet. Reward grocers that are taking it upon themselves to make sustainable choices. Only purchase sustainable seafood and let the team behind the counter know you appreciate it.
    5. Eat less fish. Today's demand for seafood far outstrips what can be delivered from sustainable sources. Reducing seafood consumption now can help lessen the pressure on our oceans, ensuring fish for the future.

    In the year 2015, nearly 21 million people are trapped in forced labour worldwide. And the seafood industry is implicated as a top offender. We can't let this continue.

    Supermarkets need to take responsibility and hold the companies providing their seafood accountable. And all of us can help make that happen.

    David Pinsky is a Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

     


     For more information on labour abuse in the seafood industry, visit Environmental Justice FoundationHuman Rights at SeaHuman Rights WatchInternational Labor Rights ForumInternational Transport Workers' FederationInternational Union of Food Workers and the Solidarity Center.

  • Solarnia: the solar paradise of the mediterranean

    Close your eyes. Now imagine a perfect holiday destination; a peaceful place where you can swim in crystal-clear waters, breathe clean air, enjoy amazing food served by hospitable locals, explore countless islands and walk on exotic beaches.

    This place is called Solarnia, a Mediterranean paradise completely powered by clean and safe energy. It has a stable economy and a flourishing tourism industry.

    Now, open your eyes. Imagine a place where the sea turned black, where the food is contaminated, where the air is unbreathable, where tourism has died out, and where oil rigs and coal plants are all you can see on the horizon.

    This place has no name, it's a Mediterranean nightmare affected by dirty and dangerous energy, with a degrading economy and no tourism.

    Now, I want you to keep your eyes open, because this nightmare might become reality very soon. Mediterranean countries' governments are planning to start new risky oil driling projects and build new coal powerplants which will harm the local nature end economy forever.

    Sign our petition to stop the madness before it's too late.

    Only with your help, can we convince the Mediterranean authorities to quit dirty energy forever and to switch to clean energy now!

    Together, we can keep Solarnia a paradise for all of us.

    Human Banner "Go Solar" by Greenpeace Italy Volunteers in Ostia (Rome).  © Giuseppe Chiantera/Greenpeace.

    Last weekend, in Spain and Italy, local communities as well as tourists gathered on the main beaches from the Canary islands to the Roman coast to demand action to be able to still enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean land, to raise their children in a safe area, far from the risks of oil spills, pollution and land destruction.

    A place where – thanks to you – the local authorities switched to renewable energy as the permanent solution to foster new jobs, secure energy independence, protect the ecosystem and mitigate climate change.

    This is how your beloved holiday destinations will be protected and your Solarnia dream come true. Once and for all.

    Thanks to your help, together we can say goodbye to dirty energy policies and fossil fuel projects, and welcome clean and renewable sources instead.

    Join us and help us protect our Solar Paradise for a bright future.

    Cristiana De Lia is the Comms Coordinator with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

  • Dharnai: the story of one solar village

    Local Residents in Dharnai Village in India. 31 Jan, 2014 © subrata biswas / Greenpeace

    It's been precisely one year now, since 2000 citizens of Dharnai, a small village near Bodhgaya in the eastern Indian state of Bihar achieved access to electricity for the first time in 30 years. To most us who are living in this digital era, even an hour of power outage can ruin an entire day. So to imagine an entire generation that had not seen the glow of a light bulb is mind boggling.

    Our work on solutions campaigns in India spans a decade; from "Choose Positive Energy" in Orissa in 2005, to "Switch on the Sun" in Delhi today. We started our work in Bihar in 2010 with the Urja Kranti Yatra, urging political parties in Bihar to look towards Decentralized Renewable energy solutions, in order to empower people in the state with energy access at par with the rest of the country.

    Last year, on 20 July 2014, when Dharnai came live, it was the first milestone towards a great vision of autonomous energy access for the state and the country. I was present at the launch of the micro-grid, and it was a moment when people's lives changed from darkness to light. In such rural areas the lack of access to modern energy services further turns into the absence of basic facilities, like sanitation and health care into pressing problems. There are well-documented studies of women who walk miles to collect water or fuel, or have to relieve themselves outdoors without toilets, where trying to access basic facilities turn into harassment, or worse.

    In contrast, the lives of women in Dharnai changed drastically with the advent of the micro-grid. Not only did access to energy act as a catalyst that drives other socio-economic improvements, but lighting up a village like Dharnai created opportunities for women and girls by increasing access to both public and personal spaces after dark. Children studied late into the night, and women no longer needed to finish preparing meals before the sun set.

    Solar Powered Street Light in Dharnai Village in India. 21 Jun, 2014 © Vivek M. / Greenpeace

    Streets could be accessed at night, and make-shift shops sprung up underneath the street lights. It made the whole community safer. Now in Dharnai, there are 60 solar based street lights that light up the four hamlets and thereby reassuring the safety and increasing productivity of the villagers as well.

    Soon after the inauguration last year, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the village and acknowledged that the Dharnai model is the future of energy supply to those 2000 people present and to the whole world that was watching. This validation from the head of the state was the most ambitious moment for this village micro-grid. For over 30 years, high-tension electric wires have passed by the village without lighting up a single home inside it, and this is also the grim reality of most villages in Bihar. The concept of a centralized grid seems perfect when you live in Delhi or Mumbai, but reality kicks in when you step into these forsaken villages plunged into darkness after dusk. The main problem lies with the defunct central grid infrastructure followed by wrong prioritization of the electricity supply that ends up in villages like Dharnai. Even with a large capacity additions of centralized solar photovoltaic (PV) farms, the situation will remain bleak. The efficiency of solar PV coupled with the poor grid efficiency will result only in inferior quality of electricity and will blemish the trust on renewables altogether. The last mile connectivity of the villages can only be achieved efficiently by micro-grids based on renewables.

    Today after a successful one year, I wish there would be more success stories like Dharnai where people and energy are connected and governments envision a more sustainable pathway to our future. Like the roads of Dharnai that are lit up through solar based lighting, I would like to see the dark corners in Delhi and the 100 proposed 'smart cities' to be lit up by solar street lights for safer and smarter cities. And for this we need your support.

    Pujarini Sen is a Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace India.

  • The Forest Stewardship Council can help protect Canada's Boreal Intact Forest Landscapes

    Boreal Forest in Alberta. 9 Oct, 2009 © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

    Two weeks ago, Greenpeace Africa's Irene Wabiwa-Betoko wrote about the need for Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) protection in the Congo Basin, and expressed the hope that FSC's new commitment to IFLs protection could help shift the region's reliance on concession based logging which have damaged the region's rainforest, the people and wildlife that depend on it.

    Canada is also a region rich in IFLs. In fact, the Boreal Forest, much of which is in Canada, has the largest IFLs left on the planet. For this reason it plays many of the same functions as the Congo Basin's rainforest. It is the largest terrestrial storage house for carbon in the world; it contains 25% of the planet's wetlands; provides habitat for over one billion songbirds as well as bears, grizzlies, lynx, wolverines, caribou and a multitude of other species. Canada's Boreal Forest is also home to more than 600 indigenous communities, as well as other forest-dependent communities.

    Unfortunately – like the Congo Basin rainforest – Canada's Boreal IFLs are at risk. Only 8% are protected from logging and other industrial activities. As a result, species such as the woodland caribou are faced with extinction. In addition, some companies do not respect the rights and wishes of the many indigenous peoples who live in and adjacent to the Boreal IFLs. These companies log their homeland without permission.

    Woodland Caribous in Canada. 9 Oct, 2011 © Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace

    For this reason, FSC's commitment to protect IFLs with a focus on the need for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples, couldn't come a moment too soon in Canada. FSC certification is widespread in Canada. As the only certification system that enjoys support from environmental and social movements across the globe, it has considerable influence in Canada. Currently, just over 55 million hectares of a total 22% forest area is FSC certified in Canada.

    If FSC is serious about this commitment, there could be significant conservation gains in Canada's Boreal IFLs. There are several Endangered Forest regions across Canada that are in dire need of protection. Careful planning must take place to ensure that the values of these forests are not lost to reckless industrial development. Land use decisions must respect First Nations rights through FPIC. Likewise, the communities that depend on forests must have direct access to the benefits that these forests offer.

    FSC's commitment to IFLs is an important piece of the worldwide effort to stem the loss of our natural forests. We are looking forward to being a part of this important initiative, and making sure that Canada's Boreal forest gets the protection it needs. 

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    Catharine Grant is a Forest campaigner from Greenpeace Canada.