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Greenpeace news

Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 26.11.2015 23:03:24
  • 4 of ExxonMobil’s greatest climate denial hits

    Exxon has known about the dangerous reality of climate change for decades.

    In the last few months, exposé after exposé has uncovered how Exxon knew about the dangerous reality of climate change before the media, politicians and just about everyone else. But instead of doing the right thing, or even just sitting on its evidence, Exxon did something much more insidious. It tried to hide the truth from all of us. 

    As we approach COP21, a global meeting to address the climate crisis, let’s take a look back on four examples of how far Exxon has gone to stop climate action:

    1. That time Exxon learned in 1982 that climate change would lead to environmental catastrophe

    As early as 1977, Exxon’s own scientists were researching human-caused global warming. Exxon dedicated a substantial research budget to studying carbon emissions, developed sophisticated models and published its findings in peer reviewed journals. By 1982, an internal company report told Exxon management “there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered… Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

    So Exxon knew. But instead of acting to protect the planet, Exxon acted to protect its profits. It spent the next three decades funding and spreading climate denial. Exxon funded groups like ALEC, the Heartland Institute and the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition — all of which ran successful public climate denial campaigns. The Advancement of Sound Science got its start challenging the dangers of secondhand smoke, so climate denialism wasn’t a big stretch. And ALEC — a climate-denying front group that peddles its pro-corporate legislation to US statehouses — spread misinformation so egregious that Shell’s investors forced the oil giant to cut ties.

    Now, the catastrophic events Exxon predicted are here. But Exxon continues to fund climate denialism to this day.

    Hurricane Sandy aftermath in New Jersey, USA. 30 Oct, 2012 © Greenpeace / Tim Aubry

    2. That time Exxon paid for a PR strategy to convince the world climate change wasn’t real

    Of course, Exxon isn’t alone in funding and spreading climate denialism. In 1988, Exxon joined a group of fossil fuel companies and industry front groups organised by the American Petroleum Institute to create the Global Climate Science Communications Plan. The group spent $2 million dollars on a plan to get the average citizens and the media to “‘understand‘ (recognise) uncertainties” in climate science and for these uncertainties become part of the “‘conventional wisdom.’” That “uncertainty” set the planet back decades in terms of climate change policy — and it’s one reason people who don’t believe in science can run for president in the United States.

    3. That time ExxonMobil got the US to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

    For decades, Mobil — and then ExxonMobil — ran a weekly “advertorial” on the opinion page of the New York Times. After the 2000 election, these advertorials practically became a guidebook for the new Bush administration.

    In January 2001, an Exxon advertorial called the Kyoto Protocol“unrealistic” and “economically damaging” because of its “fundamental flaws.” When President Bush gave his now-infamous June 2001 speech on climate change, he echoed Exxon — calling the policy “unrealistic”, “fatally flawed in fundamental ways” and said it would have had a “negative economic impact.”

    The harm this caused to the planet is undeniable.

     Sandbagging action against Mobil in New Zealand during a global warming protest. 12 Jun, 2001 © Greenpeace / Mark Coot

    4. That time Exxon called the current New York Attorney General investigation into its deception a “distraction”

     “I really don’t want this to be a distraction.” That’s ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson talking about the New York Attorney General’s investigation into Exxon’s “possible climate change lies”. Then there’s Exxon flack Dick Keil, calling Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s suggestion that Exxon be investigated for corruption “complete bullshit.”

    Tillerson sounds a lot like Tony “I’d like my life back” Hayward in the midst of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill. We can all sympathise with beleaguered CEOs in the middle of a corporate PR disaster, but the Exxon investigation is more than a distraction. The Attorney General is looking into Exxon’s history of misleading statements on climate change, to investors and to the public. California and the Philippines might be next, and the public is clamouring for a federal Department of Justice investigation. Rex Tillerson and Dick Keil might be in denial, but Exxon’s woes aren’t going anywhere.

    Typhoon survivors and civil society groups in the Philippines, delivered a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), calling for an investigation into the responsibility of big fossil fuel companies for fueling catastrophic climate change that is resulting in human rights violations. 22 Sep, 2015 © Vincent Go / Greenpeace

    The truth is that ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies fuelled climate debate for years knowing the harm it was causing. Join us and support an investigation into Exxon and other Big Oil companies now.

    Naomi Ages is a Climate Liability Campaigner at Greenpeace USA

  • Could you go a year without buying new clothes?

    The last time I bought something new to wear was July 2014: it was a pretty blue dress for my graduation. Since then, every piece of clothing that found it’s way into my closet has been bought second-hand, inherited or borrowed.

    Swearing off shopping altogether might sound impressive, bordering on the self-righteous, but it’s really not. A large part of why I stopped buying new clothes was out of laziness, not just for the environmental high ground (although it does feel pretty great). You might say, “I could never do that”, but it’s much easier than it sounds!

    Every purchase you make has implications far beyond your closet. Once you make that realisation it’s easy to consider never buying something new again. But of course, it’s a big leap from consideration to quitting consumerism all together, one that just isn’t possible for everyone.

    Disposable fashion has made itself incredibly convenient, even addictive. But over-consumption fuels a toxic supply chain and stuffs landfill sites with impulse buys. We need to demand less from retailers, not more.

    There are currently 31 items of clothing in my wardrobe, not including underwear. I am clearly not a minimalist, but I can still describe every piece of clothing that I own. Some I’ve had for years, and they’re still totally wearable, like the summer dress I bought for a picnic in 2010, or the sparkly disco shorts I’ve worn on innumerable nights out.

    Fashion changes, but style doesn’t. I dare you to find me one old piece of clothing you own that couldn’t be restyled or altered to look great now. While it goes against the fast changing fashion world, it doesn’t matter; my old clothes suit me. I’ve been wearing them for so long that they’re part of who I am. 

    clothes 1. Photo by Chiara MilfordKnits – inherited, thrift shop. Shirts – boyfriend's own. Dresses – borrowed or several years old. Skirts – second-hand. Jeans – ancient. Tops – roommate's, swapped, old. Outerwear – found, flea market. Shoes – second-hand, reheeled.

    Fix up and look sharp

    You probably shouldn’t be taking fashion advice from me; I’ve been wearing the same jeans since I was 18.

    Not all of us are lucky enough to be the same size we were years ago though. But professionally altering your jeans costs about the same as buying a brand new pair, and they can be tailored to fit you perfectly, rather than the arbitrary sizes by shopping off the rack.

    My clothes are old – they show the marks of the stories they’ve lived: buttons are missing and there are irremovable stains and holes everywhere. But if Kanye West can go out in a holey t-shirt, then so can I. Or I try to fix them. Upcycling is slow-fashion’s new buzzword and it’s helping to reform the industry for the better.

    clothes 2. Photo by Chiara Milford#ImKeepingThis – My favourite skirt has four holes in it. Some I've tried sewing up, the others I just let hang.


    Thanks to the rise of the hipster, vintage is growing astronomically. Historically the reserve of the older generation, second-hand shops, flea markets and thrift stores are now full of young fashionistas trying to find something cool. 

    It helps that dressing like an 80-year-old seems to be back in style. The other day my friend commented that I look like “Hermione’s grandma”, which is not a bad thing when you’re wearing an oversized camel coat (€8 from Amsterdam’s Ij-Hallen flea market) and a hat you found on the floor of a bus. Style is about what makes you feel good. Look weird: you don’t need to blend in.

    I’m lucky enough to live in Berlin, where there are flea markets every other day and second-hand clothing is easy to come by, but for those who don’t have the luxury of four different thrift stores in walking distance, there are lots of online communities where people trade vintage clothes.


    • It’s cheap!

    • You’re automatically hip.

    • You get to say the sentence “Thanks! It’s vintage.” whenever someone compliments your dress.


    • You can’t always get what you want (but when can you ever? Disposable fashion is dictated by mass popularity, not necessarily by what’s fashionable).

    • It’s rare that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for so don’t go along with a vision in mind. Be open to finding something totally different.

    clothes 3. Photo by Chiara Milford#OOTD the statement summer skirt, brought to you by a second-hand store, teamed with an old pair of shoes.

    SWAP team

    Fashion recycles. A few years ago it was the 60s, now the 70s is seeing a revival. Current fashion trends revolve wearing exclusive, original clothes and looking a bit like your parents did when they were younger (plus iPhone). The best way to get this look is with authentic old clothes, and where better to get them than from someone who lived it?

    If everyone shared their clothes with another person, we’d need to produce half as many clothes.

    I have “accidentally borrowed” about a fifth of the clothes I now call mine: somehow I’ve acquired my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s jumper, his sister’s black top, some of his shirts, my mum’s old scarf and a couple of hats too.

    clothes 4. Photo by Chiara MilfordLet's hope they don't ask for any of it back... #ImKeepingThis

    I don’t necessarily recommend that method, but there are a bunch of social media groups and some wonderful websites dedicated to giving away and swapping your old stuff with other people.

    Certain items are totally impossible to source second-hand – I draw the line at buying used underwear, but there are still options that don’t involve throw-away fashion. Set your own goals, find what’s right for you. Fashion has never been about what everyone is wearing. It’s about feeling amazing in your clothes, be they riddled with holes, six years old or a golden thrift store find.

    Maybe you’ll reduce the amount of new clothes you buy, or maybe you’ll bite the bullet and vow to make everything yourself. Start small: this Black Friday, just buy nothing. 

    Chiara Milford is a freelance writer living in Berlin. She tries to live an environmentally friendly existence.

  • Another historic day in the battle to stop the tarsands

    Today people slowed the beast again but this time we did it at the source.

    After a string of pipeline victories and over a decade of campaigning on at least three different continents, the Alberta government has finally put a limit to the tarsands. Today they announced they will cap its expansion and limit the tarsands monster to 100 megatonnes a year (equivalent to what projects already operating and those currently under construction would produce).

    Aerial view of seismic lines and a tar sands mine in the Boreal forest north of Fort McMurray, northern Alberta.

    As momentous an occasion as it is when an oil jurisdiction actually puts limits on growth, 100 million tonnes of carbon a year at a time when science is demanding bold reductions is still far too much. While historic, the government’s cap needs to be viewed as a ceiling rather then a floor, and a ceiling that we will need to work like crazy to ratchet down until it meets the science.

    On the good side what the current cap does mean is that the two-to-five fold expansion the tar sands industry had planned will not happen.

    It means the 2,270,820 barrels a day already approved will stay in the ground, the 1,890,850 barrels a day in the application process will never see the light of day, and the 1,923,00 barrels a day disclosed and announced will go no further then that. That’s 6,084,670 barrels a day that the government helped stop today and 154.07 million tonnes of carbon a year that we will be keeping from getting poured into the atmosphere.

    All I have to say to that is BAM!

    Investors better take note and start moving away from high carbon assets as soon as they can.

    The Alberta government also started investing in solutions. By 2030 30% of Alberta’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources (the same year that the province just committed to phasing out coal). In addition the province also announced supports for energy efficiency, mass transit, and the start of an economy-wide carbon tax that will start providing the resources to make it all happen.

    It was people power that did that.

    People concerned about Indigenous rights, about health, about a growing climate crisis, and about the lack of sustainable solutions that came together, and worked for years, in some cases decades, to make todays victory possible.

    It’s because we raised our voices, because we marched, danced, risked arrest and organized community to community that we were able to stand up to the largest corporations on the planet and win.

    People did that.

    However, it’s not the end of the battle. Alberta still has a lot of work to do to meet the demands of climate science, and the tarsands are still bigger that what the climate can handle.  More change is necessary and possible. We need to be ready in the days ahead to keep up the pressure and turn it up. We need to continue to stop the pipelines, continue to constrain production, and continue to push and mobilize for solutions till this plan meets the science and equity.

    People will do this too.

    Today is a historic moment for climate activism in Alberta and its one more win for the climate movement that continues to rack up victories right across North America.

    Just two weeks ago the President of the United States rejected the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline ending a seven-year battle. Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put the nail in Enbridge’s tarsands pipeline by directing his minister to implement a tanker ban on B.C.’s north shore. Add to that the growing successes of the fossil fuel divestment movement, the Keep It In the Ground bill 7 American Senators including Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders put forward, the Exxon climate investigation, and the global movement we’re building to go 100% renewable and you can see together we are building quite the resume.

    And we aren’t done yet.

    It amazes me sometimes that so much beauty has come from such a horrific place, but it is because of this project that we found each other. We learned that as much as pipeline routes were pathways of destruction they were also maps of resistance. They showed us the communities we could connect to, the perspectives we could learn from, and created lights of hope we could follow along the way. They taught us that when we worked together and supported each other, led by the original caretakers of the land, we could become an unstoppable force. And what a force we are.

    I have no idea what victory will come next.

    All I know is that today I will celebrate, toast to the power of people and social movements, and tomorrow I will get back to work preparing for our next big moment in Ottawa before coming back to Alberta to push the government to do more.

    The road to climate justice is a long and hard one, but it’s a beautiful one too that’s getting a little easier by the day. It’s easier because now we know that when we work together with love for each other and the land we can beat the biggest of foes, turn the largest of tides, and make history in the process.

    We already are.

    Mike Hudema is a Tarsands Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada.

  • 10 shocking facts show how companies are still trashing Indonesia’s forests

    Forest Destruction and Orphaned Orangutan

    For months, forest fires raged across Indonesia bringing the world's attention to the country's devastating forest destruction. Both people and orang-utans were endangered as the fires raged and a thick, choking haze swept across Southeast Asia.

    These forest fires were a legacy of decades of destruction by palm oil and paper companies. Despite 'no deforestation' promises held by companies, forests are still being trashed. 

    Here are 10 shocking facts showing the scale of Indonesia's forest destruction, and why it needs to stop now.

    Deforested land

    1. Indonesia now has the highest rate of deforestation of any country in the world.

    2. A quarter of Indonesia's forest has been destroyed in the last 25 years alone. That's a massive 31 million hectares, an area almost the size of Germany.

    3. Plantation industries (that's palm oil and paper companies to you and me) are the main drivers of this destruction. Almost 40% of deforestation between 2011 and 2013 happened in land used by these industries.

    4. Deforestation is pushing the orang-utan closer to the brink of extinction, with 4% of what remains of the animal's Indonesian habitat lost in just two years (2011 - 2013).

    orang-utans in indonesia

    5. Orang-utans aren't even safe in their remaining habitat, with half of this forest opened up for destruction by companies. 

    6. This destruction shows no signs of stopping, with the Indonesian government identifying around 15 million hectares of forest available for trashing by companies.

    7. This year's forest and peatland blazes highlight how Indonesia's forest are a global climate emergency, with the fires emitting more greenhouse gases on some days than the entire U.S.

    8. Millions of people across South East Asia have been affected by the thick, choking haze emitted from the fires. Over 110,000 people die prematurely each year as a result of this toxic air pollution.

    9. These fires threatened a third of the world's wild orang-utans.

    ...including orphaned Otan - whose heartbreaking story touched all of us. Sad, scared, alone. The baby orangutan orphaned by forest destruction.

    10. There's a clear link between deforestation and Indonesia's forest fires. Around 36% of fire hotspots detected are located in areas used by palm oil and paper companies.

    Deforested land

    These shocking facts show why companies need to do more to protect forests. Take action now.

    Danielle Boobyer is a Digital Campaigner with Greenpeace UK.

    A version of this article first appeared on Greenpeace UK.

  • Uprooting illegal logging: From the Amazon to the EU

    Madeireira Santa Bárbara Sawmill in Para State. 1 Apr, 2014 © Marizilda Cruppe / Greenpeace

    Illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon is vast in scale and scope – impacting both rainforest communities and crucial habitat.

    This past August – during my first visit to the Brazilian Amazon – my Brazilian colleagues visited the land of the Ka’apor indigenous people to assist the community with remote surveillance technology and electronic tracking devices. These systems would help them to monitor illegal logging on their lands, as indigenous tribes all too often fall victim to uncontrolled and illegal logging practices.

    That same month, a major police crackdown on one of the largest illegal timber trade networks ever made headlines around the world. The federal prosecutor of Santarém, Para state exposed a crime scheme extending deep into the government’s chain-of-custody system for timber. Her findings confirmed our findings about the timber sector since the publication of The Amazon’s Silent Crisis in May 2014: the entire system is so riddled with fraud that official documents accompanying Brazilian Amazon timber cannot be trusted.

    It’s clear that companies buying timber from the Brazilian Amazon are taking a huge risk. Now Greenpeace is working to expose the companies that disregard the possibility of illegal activity behind the timber they purchase.

    Logging Trucks in Para State. 27 Mar, 2014 © Marizilda Cruppe / Greenpeace

    Greenpeace Brazil’s most recent investigation reveals the gamblers of the European market that bought timber directly from Madeireira Iller — the logging company, sawmill and trader that the prosecutor arrested for laundering timber through the system with the help of corrupt officials and other criminals.

    In defiance of their obligations under the EU’s regulation to stem the import of illegal timber, these importers continued to ignore the evidence of widespread illegality in the Brazilian Amazon. Despite all the evidence, they trusted the official documents provided to them by their Brazilian supplier. Our investigations reveal that at least one importer in the Netherlands didn’t even bother to collect all the paperwork for the timber it bought from Madeireira Iller.

    Greenpeace activists carry out an action in front of the cabinet of Belgian minister Marie-Christine Marghem, urging the minister to take action and work on a strict implementation of the EU Timber Regulation. In the picture, a sign shows a piece of timber and the text 'Ceci n'est pas du bois illégal', paraphrasing the famous art piece title of surrealist Belgian artist Magritte. 27 Apr, 2015 © Philip Wilson / Greenpeace

    European enforcement authorities have been lenient towards the timber trade sector, creating a climate of impunity. Equally as damaging, the European importers fulfilling their legal obligations are left with a competitive disadvantage.

    Until the Brazilian government brings the logging sector in the Amazon under control, buyers need to take responsibility for the wood they're purchasing, making sure it's been harvested legally and sustainably, or simply stop buying from high-risk regions like the Amazon.

    An Lambrechts is a Senior Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Belgium.

  • FoD and #savethearctic, say whaat?

    What do the Arctic have in common with a drama about vampires and a sitcom about a sketch comedy show? Not much, unless you take into account two actors who are keen to save our pristine wilderness to the North.

    True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard and 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer teamed up with Funny or Die and Greenpeace to release a three-part mini series – shot on location in the Arctic Ocean. 

    Watch 'Jack & Alex Set Sail' from Funny Or Die.

    The pair, who are friends in real life, sailed on Greenpeace icebreaker for nine days off the east coast of Greenland. They recorded the series to boost public awareness about the reality of global warming, and to build support for Greenpeace's "Save the Arctic" campaign.

    Watch 'Jack & Alex Find Their Sea Legs' from Funny Or Die.

    "I wish to invite people to get a chance to see how amazing this place is. Not a lot of people have the privilege to go to Greenland, to the Arctic," said Skarsgard. "I hope that when seeing the series, people will appreciate the beauty of the Arctic and the importance of preserving it, so that it does not turn into one big oil field."

    Watch 'Jack & Alex: Search & Rescue' from Funny Or Die

    "I have seen an iceberg roll over, I have seen glaciers calve, I have seen whales, it was just phenomenal," said McBrayer. "It was definitely labor of love out there, and it is really inspiring and makes me very appreciative to see everyone work so hard. I have never been to this part of the world and am not sure if I ever would have sought out an adventure like this myself."

    The entire series can also be seen here.

    Join them and millions of others who want to keep drilling for fossil fuels out of the Arctic.

    Arin de Hoog is an Editor with Greenpeace International.

  • Herakles Farms project rears its ugly head again

    When Greenpeace Africa and ally NGOs first introduced you to Herakles Farms and its palm oil project in Cameroon (known locally as SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon or SGSOC), the US company had grand and destructive ambitions. Even though it had yet to obtain a valid land lease and even though local residents and civil society opposed the plans, they were intent on destroying nearly 70,000 hectares of dense natural forest in the country's Southwest region – an area that provided livelihoods to thousands of people and a home to endangered wildlife including the chimpanzee and drill.

    More than three years on and the concession area is a fraction of the intended size, the company has closed most of its offices and resorted to selling illegally felled timber to raise revenue. But if its ambitions have changed or evolved, they are no less destructive and now SGSOC appears to be desperately using the courts, physical assaults and intimidation to attack citizens exercising rights guaranteed in their constitution and under international law.

    Nasako Besingi, director of the Cameroonian NGO, SEFE, speaks during a press briefing at the National Press Club about the impacts of the Herakles Farms Palm Oil plantation development on the community and environment in his native Cameroon. 19 Feb, 2013 © Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

    Where peaceful protest is a crime

    Nasako Besingi, a local activist who has won international awards for his peaceful protests against the Herakles Farms/SGSOC palm oil project was, last week, convicted of four charges including defamation and propagation of false publications. After many judicial delays and concerns over the fairness and validity of the Cameroonian legal system to adjudicate this case, he was ordered to pay a huge fine and legal costs or face three years in jail.

    Besingi is guilty of nothing more than exercising his democratic right to protest, which is why this crackdown is so alarming. Herakles Farms/SGSOC has consistently worked to silence its critics and Besingi has been intimidated and physically assaulted in recent years. A coalition of environmental and human rights organizations is calling on Cameroon to stop the repression of local citizens and activists for merely expressing concern over their own land and forests.

    Where the voice of opponents is silenced by all means

    But while this injustice was taking place, new information surfaced about a number of complaints and lawsuits that Herakles Farms / SGSOC itself faces. 

    Unmarked timber is observed on a truck in the private port of the Lebanese-owned company Cotrefor in Kinkole. 17 Feb, 2013 © Greenpeace

    More than 60 former employees have turned to local activists, including Nasako Besingi, for help securing unpaid allowances and a number of employees have reportedly brought lawsuits against the company. One former employee has filed at least 8 different actions including accusations of racial discrimination and unpaid wages.

    Herakles Farms/SGSOC's defense in response to these legal actions has recently come to light and includes, among other things, an arbitration clause in its employment contracts which designates the "New York Arbitration Board" as the only authorized body to hear complaints.

    This condition that an employee can only take up a grievance in a foreign country places an unfair insurmountable burden on employees and is rather strange given Herakles Farms no longer has an office in New York and new leadership in the company suggested the US company may no longer be involved in this project at all.

    The company has even asked the Presidency of Cameroon for help enforcing this arbitration clause and to intervene in stopping the court cases against Herakles Farms/SGSOC.

    Herakles Farms/SGSOC's efforts to intimidate and silence the voices of opponents, while also trying to gain influence at the upper hierarchy of the government, is violating the independence of the judiciary and freedom of legal proceedings.

    Where local development is an illusion

    Herakles Farms/SGSOC's behaviour is in stark contrast to their public rhetoric when they first announced their project. Once boasting of bringing much needed local economic development, the project is now evidently in full crisis.

    This year employees were told that Herakles Farms was stopping operations in the villages of Mundemba and Toko in order to intensify planting in nearby Nguti. But all activity appears to have stopped throughout their concession. The main office of Herakles Farms/SGSOC in Limbe had been shut down with a new small office being set up in Manyemen. 

    Forests in Cameroon. 21 Nov, 2014 © Greenpeace / John Novis

    Satellite images from January to May 2015, reveal that roughly 50 hectares of forest cover were lost in the Herakles Farms/SGSOC concession, indicating little development has been taking place. No one can even confirm if the company ever paid their land rent, totaling more than $300,000 US Dollars. However Greenpeace Africa was able to confirm that they were served with a summons in May this year for unpaid taxes of over $38,000 US Dollars. 

    In addition to laying off workers, for many of whom the job was all they had after the company took control of their land, local chiefs in surrounding communities have also argued that social obligations promised by the company, were not fulfilled. 

    Attempt to resurrect the palm oil project

    It now transpires that in the face of all these difficulties and steadfast opposition that Herakles Farms has finally got the message and decided it is not welcome. Greenpeace Africa has confirmed that Jonathan Watts has been named the new Chief Operating Officer of SGSOC and the project has new investors. Watts is also the managing director of the Volta Red palm oil project in Ghana which was also previously owned by Herakles Farms and is part of the UK-based Wyse Group.

    It is as yet unclear what the implications are of this change of management and ownership but one thing that is still clear, is this project has always been, the wrong project in the wrong place. It is an example of how not to invest in and produce palm oil in Cameroon.

    Greenpeace Africa remains dedicated to highlighting the importance of effective land use planning in Cameroon and the wider Congo Basin in a way that respects the rights of local communities and forges a sustainable path toward development that does not come at an environmental or human cost.

    Amy Moas is a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace USA and Eric Ini is a forest campaigner with Greenpeace Africa.

  • Dam collapse in Brazil destroys towns and turns river into muddy wasteland

    On Thursday, November 5th, two dams holding millions of cubic meters of mining waste gave way– launching one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazilian history.

    Over 25,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of mud – contaminated with arsenic, lead, chromium and a variety of other heavy metals* – quickly overtook the nearby mining community of Mariana in Minas Gerais state. At least seventeen people were killed. Hundreds more have been displaced by the wall of sludge released in the dam collapse.

    Environmental disaster in Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil

    The mud surged through rural communities and into the Rio Doce, the major river in southeast Brazil. Since November 5th, it has been slowly working its way downstream — contaminating the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of people and turning protected forest and habitat into a desert of mud. The tragedy will continue to spread over 500 kilometers as contaminants from the sludge make their way towards the Atlantic coast, eventually endangering the Abrolhos National Marine Park.

    Who is responsible?The journey of mud from Mariana to the coast of Espirito Santo (Greenpeace )

    Since the disaster, Greenpeace Brazil has been working alongside local organisations to monitor the damage and demand a complete and independent investigation over the disaster’s cause, as well the immediate financial compensation to the victims so they can try to put their lives back together.

    The mining company in charge of the dam, Samarco (controlled by Vale and Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton), has acted irresponsibly in the face of this tragedy. There was no contingency plan for a situation like this, and at-risk communities were never prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. So far these companies have been fined one billion Brazilian reais (US$261 million), but this doesn’t begin to cover the costs of the disaster.

    Meanwhile, authorities in Minas Gerais state continue to cater to corporate interests over the public good. The operational license for the dam that collapsed was not recommended because of risk of destabilisation. Yet this year the government of Minas Gerais has proposed new legislation to accelerate environmental licenses for the mining sector. The state already has more than 700 waste dams, but only four public employees to monitor them.

    Environmental disaster in Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil

    What now?

    Over last few days, Greenpeace Brazil has been documenting and investigating the path of destruction caused by the Samarco dam rupture: listening to people’s stories and docementinging the devastation. You can see more from this expedition here. And Greenpeace teams will continue to monitor and document as the mud’s contaminants make their way to the ocean. 

    Thousands of lives are being radically affected – fishermen, ranchers, city-dwellers and the Krenak Indigenous people. The environment between Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo states suffers immeasurably. There is no time to lose in supporting the victims, investigating and punishing those responsible for this tragedy and in minimizing the effects on the environment.

    Stand in solidarity with the people affected by this terrible tragedy. Share their story to pressure those responsible. And visit here (site in Portuguese) for more ways to help.

    Bruno Weis is the Communications Coordinator of Greenpeace Brasil.

    *Correction: On 18 November, 2015 this blog was edited to reflect better information regarding contaminants in the mud. The line "full of dangerous metals like manganese and mercury" was changed to read "contaminated with arsenic, lead, chromium and a variety of other heavy metals." 

  • Art is essential to activism

    The environmental movement runs on innovation. Our biggest victories aren't won by out-spending or out-muscling our adversaries. Instead, we out-maneuver. We meet big challenges with even bigger creativity.

    And there are few challenges larger than taking on Thai Union Group.

    Thai Union is the world's largest canned tuna company. Its major brands in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Thailand and more control 18 percent of the global market and raked in upwards of $5 billion in profits last year. But rather than use its influence to lead on sustainability, the company is behind some of the most devastating environmental and human rights abuses in the industry, having been repeatedly linked to destructive fishing methods, human trafficking and even forced labor.

    All this and you still probably haven't heard of Thai Union. Based on its social and environmental record, that may well be the way company execs want it. They'd prefer to hide behind the advertising campaigns and front groups that have greenwashed the commercial tuna fishing industry's image for decades, keeping consumers in the dark about the devastation feeding their families.

    Thai Union is flexing its economic muscle to sweep the issue under the rug. But we're flexing our creative muscle with help from artist Aaron Staples to speak truth to power and change the tuna industry for good.

    Art by Aaron Staples. Environmental Destruction and Human Rights Violations in Commercial Tuna Fishing. © Aaron Staples. Click to enlarge.Art by Aaron Staples shows the environmental destruction implicit in commercial tuna fishing: thousands of sharks, turtles and other "unwanted" species are caught and thrown away to die each year. Click to enlarge

    "Art is a lens to look at issues that are too complex to examine in words."

    The story of tuna is one of complexity. It's an industry made up of equal parts environmental, social and economic pitfalls, and fixing it requires addressing each of these dimensions.

    And while it might be tempting to isolate these challenges and address them one by one, that's not how Aaron approached his work.

    "Because these issues are extremely complex … you have to reflect that complexity in the art."

    To do this, he chose to represent as many layers as possible in each image.

    "By compounding these stories together, it creates a stronger impact. Obviously not all of these things are happening simultaneously on one vessel, but within the framework of the art people can witness it all at once and become aware of how big the issue is. It's an accumulated way of looking at the issue instead of looking at individual circumstances."

    Art by Aaron Staples. Environmental Destruction and Human Rights Violations in Commercial Tuna Fishing. © Aaron Staples. Click to enlarge.Aaron's depiction of commercial tuna fishing combines both the environmental and social dimensions, here showing both destructive fishing methods and overworked fishermen. Click to enlarge

    "Artwork offers a visual language that doesn't know any borders."

    Art and activism are both built on exposing the truth. Art in particular has the ability to convey powerful messages across the linguistic and cultural barriers that so often divide us.

    Tapping into emotion, Aaron says, is central to achieving this.

    "Regardless of what language they speak, people can feel the emotion. That's why art can be such a powerful tool to translate these ideas across a range of audiences. They're responding specifically – and very viscerally – to what they're seeing."

    In representing the tuna industry, Aaron says he honed in on anguish, shock and empathy to inform his artistic direction – the anguish of those trapped in deplorable working conditions on tuna vessels, a sense of shock that these egregious practices continue unchecked, and empathy in the viewer.

    "There's no convincing anyone with art. They just see, and to see is to believe."

    Part of the activist's challenge is to grip, to inspire people to action. With the avalanche of information most of us are faced with every day, this is increasingly hard to do. Sometimes it's too much to ask people to stop and think; sometimes it's too much to just ask them to stop.

    For Aaron, successful art compels this. It penetrates apathy, imploring the viewer to "look deeper and explore the narrative … to give them time to stop and think."

    Art by Aaron Staples. Environmental Destruction and Human Rights Violations in Commercial Tuna Fishing. © Aaron Staples. Click to enlarge.Aaron told us he was particularly struck by the human rights violations present in the tuna industry. Workers on tuna vessels have reported being forced to work as much as 20 hours in a row for little or no pay. Click to enlarge

    "It's always safer to stay with the status quo and not make any waves. It's safer to let things happen and not raise your voice."

    Of course, neither artists nor activists take are inclined to take the safe road. We both face and overcome inherent risks in what we do every day.

    "Risk is a large part of making art. What you're doing is essentially opening yourself up and putting your thoughts, ideas and way of responding to the world on display for people to come and look at. You don't know if people will embrace it … I think it's the same for artists and activists: there's a compulsion. There's this innate drive to do what it is you need to do. We have to react, so we get over the fear of failure."

    For the past month, we've been asking you to take a risk with us by confronting Thai Union and its global brands, like Chicken of the Sea. We've asked you to change your shopping habits, make a statement with your dollar, and raise your voice for a sustainable, ethical tuna industry. More than 250,000 of you have taken that risk with us.

    Together, our actions have had a big impact. We've gotten the public's attention, changed policies and forced the spotlight to shine brighter on Thai Union than it ever has before – and with each risk we take we are changing the story of tuna.

    Watch this video by artist Aaron Staples as he brings some of the most horrifying injustices in the tuna industry – from forced labor to dead wildlife – to life through incredibly detailed works of art.

    Ryan Schleeter is an Online Content Producer at Greenpeace USA.

    This blog first appeared on Greenpeace USA here.

  • Apple goes solar in Singapore – will Microsoft, Amazon and Google follow?

    Tour around the South East of Asia to promote the use of clean energy. 1 Jul, 2002 © Greenpeace / Kate Davison

    Apple has announced it will power its data center, offices and upcoming store in Singapore with 100% solar energy beginning in 2016. Singapore is a rapidly growing hub for energy hungry data centers, making Apple’s s