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Latest news from Greenpeace
letzte Aktualisierung: 29.03.2015 10:18:00
  • Major US tuna brands connected to slavery at sea and human rights abuses

    The Associated Press recently released results of an investigation into slavery on Southeast Asian fishing trawlers that supply major supermarkets and seafood companies throughout the United States. The enslaved men featured in the AP story, primarily from Myanmar, were brought to Benjina, Indonesia and forced to fish for products that were then shipped to Thailand, where they entered the global seafood market, including American supply chains.

    The story detailed accounts of human rights abuses and raised additional questions about where the slave-caught seafood ends up. US Customs records indicated that several of the Thai factories connected to the dirty seafood ship their products to the United States. The investigation uncovered slaves who were regularly kicked, beaten and whipped with stingray tails, and reports of dead bodies being thrown to the sharks or kept in freezers with the fish.

    One of the companies connected to the suppliers was Thai Union, owner of Chicken of the Sea, and currently set to purchase Bumble Bee. While the AP did not specifically investigate tuna fisheries, the story reinforces serious concerns over the supply chains for the biggest tuna companies in the US. In Greenpeace's recent canned tuna ranking, the big three tuna companies – Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Starkist, making up 80 percent of the US market – all received failing scores on both sustainability and human rights issues.

    There has been increasing pressure on Thailand to clean up tuna industry labor practices. In 2014, a US report on human trafficking downgraded Thailand to Tier 3, the worst level, for not meeting minimum standards to protect workers. Thai Union was quick to respond to today's AP investigation and drop the supplier in question, but knowing this investigation tracked just one shipment from a single supplier, serious concerns remain about where the company's seafood is coming from.

    In response to today's Associated Press findings, Greenpeace US Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar said:

    "When it comes to slave labor and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains, the Associated Press findings are the tip of the iceberg. Working conditions aboard fishing vessels are among the worst in the world. While the investigation didn't look at tuna vessels specifically, it connected slavery and major abuses to the largest player in the American tuna market – Thai Union. This company is responsible for the majority of destructive tuna found across the country – owning Chicken of the Sea and soon Bumble Bee, and supplying Kroger and Walmart. If you eat tuna that is sourced from Thai Union, there is no way to be sure you aren't eating fish associated with slave labor or caught under extremely poor conditions.

    "If Thai Union takes this issue seriously, it will work swiftly and diligently to eliminate slave labor and human rights abuses from its entire supply chain, not just one supplier. Ensuring that its seafood is produced with slightly less slave labor is not an acceptable response for US consumers.

    "Rather than waiting for someone else to expose where and how its seafood is caught, Thai Union must become a leader in traceability – tracking fish from ship to shelf, including regular third party audits and unannounced visits aboard ships. The company should move to ensure it sources from only legal, sustainable and socially responsible fisheries, and any tuna sold by Thai Union must not be sourced from vessels that transfer catches to other ships at sea. Transshipment at sea is a known way to hide illegal catches and prevent the traceability needed to eliminate slavery from seafood supply chains.

    "Slavery was officially abolished in the US in 1865, but American companies continue to profit from slavery on fishing vessels. Seafood businesses like Thai Union that are associated with slave labor and human rights abuses must either embrace proactive solutions or be shunned by the US market."

    For additional information on slavery and labor abuse at sea, as well as guidance for the fishing industry, please visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/oceans/2014/Slavery-and-Labour-Abuse-in-the-Fishing-Sector.pdf

    To read the entire Associated Press investigative report, please visit: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/b9e0fc7155014ba78e07f1a022d90389/ap-investigation-are-slaves-catching-fish-you-buy

    For Greenpeace's canned tuna ranking press release, please visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/news-releases/Greenpeace-Canned-Tuna-Ranking-Finds-Most-Brands-Fail-Consumers-on-Ocean-Safe-Tuna/

    John Hocevar is the Oceans Campaign Director at Greenpeace US.

  • The strong arm of the Grrrowd

    Grrrowd: Justice powered by the Crowd

    Grrrowd is a powerful new model for crowdfunding legal cases involving human and environmental rights. It's the Kickstarter of class action suits, the Indiegogo of good cases for good causes.

    It's the place where a poor Mexican community can get help fighting off the 86 appeals and other legal actions filed by big Agribiz companies who are trying to overturn a law protecting 8000 years of traditional corn cultivation.

    Or where the indigenous people of Canada's Beaver Lake Cree Nation can get help standing up to protect the land and water of their traditional home – and the very future of a planet threatened by climate change – from the environmental nightmare of tar sands oil extraction.

    Or where you can protect African Rhinos by challenging plans for a coal mine in a South African wildlife reserve.

    Would you please take a minute to check out the links and see how you can add your weight to civil society's struggle?

    Turning collective will into legal action

    All of these cases involve rich industries locked in conflict with poor communities, the natural world, or future generations. Grrrowd can help them tip the scales of justice back into balance.

    As our world becomes more connected and less encumbered by borders, the power of people banding together for a common cause grows stronger. As our ability to communicate, reach out and network with one another grows stronger, you might say our planet is developing a nervous system made of billions of human beings – synapses and nerve endings in a vast neural network that can sense and respond to threat. But to create transformative change, we need more than the sensing and communications that a nervous system provides: we need muscle.

    Grrrowd is muscle. It's a great example of how we can turn our collective will into legal action for the good of the many, the future of our planet, and our rights as human beings.

    Greenpeace and the rule of law

    Is it confusing to read that Greenpeace believes profoundly in the rule of law? After all, we're not afraid of being arrested and put on trial for taking a stand, or to expose the special interests behind bad laws, or to challenge the authority under which bad laws are made.

    But that's not disdain for the law.

    It's disdain for the law's failure to protect the global commons, human rights, and the needs of future generations. In fact, over its 40-year history, Greenpeace is responsible for or has contributed to the MAKING of far many more laws than we've ever broken: and that's part of our mission. We raise difficult questions about what society deems acceptable, and seek to change that.

    We stood up with our supporters to oppose nuclear waste dumping at sea in the 80s – it's now illegal. We stood up with our supporters to oppose international trade in toxic waste – it's now illegal. The dumping of oil rigs like the Brent Spar in the North Sea? Illegal. Commercial whaling? Illegal. Ozone-killing chemicals? Illegal. Logging in the ecologically sensitive areas of the Great Bear Rainforest? Illegal.

    All of the laws that protect against those abuses were made on the back of public protest, civil disobedience, and the re-examination of the laws which once permitted what today are environmental crimes.

    Human law is not written on stone tablets, it's made of clay. It's constantly reshaped.

    Crowdfunding for justice and defending the global commons

    Justice is supposed to serve the many, not the moneyed few. But when it comes to the rights of the natural world, or of future generations, who pays their legal fees to challenge laws that harm their interests? How does the ocean hire a lawyer? Where is the public defender who will prepare a case for my great-great-granddaughter's right to clean air, clean water, and healthy food?

    All too often in the world today, in which corporations are granted the rights of personhood and our legal and legislative systems can be perverted to serve private gold rather than the common good, legal protection or redress can be a commodity – one whose cost is out of reach.

    Too many people whose human rights have been violated or whose land or oceans have been ravaged could only turn out their pockets when asked, "How much justice can you afford?"

    Now, by crowdfunding legal cases, everyone with a conscience can support 'David' in hauling 'Goliath' before the courts.

    Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International. He recently accepted an invitation to join Grrrowd's Advisory Board.

  • Defending Mexico's water

    Greenpeace activists at the CONAGUA office in Mexico DF.

    This weekend the world celebrated World Water Day – a reminder of how crucial it is for us to protect and defend our waterways and ensure we can all have access to clean, safe water – a human right, recognised by the United Nations.

    However, over the past few weeks here in Mexico we have had little reason to celebrate as the country faces one of the biggest threats to its waterways for years – the Ley General de Aguas. This new piece of legislation, introduced to the house of representatives on the 4th of March, is a far cry from its original goal: to ensure fair access to safe, clean water for all.

    This is a law that puts profits before people.

    Legalising pollution

    The Detox campaign has been working for years to create a toxic-free future and we have seen just what is possible, witnessing; transformational change in the fashion sector. However, instead of securing this progress, the new Ley General de Aguas would allow companies to freely pollute Mexico's rivers, determining 'acceptable levels' of hazardous chemicals, allowing companies to self-regulate and even making pollution affordable with small fines.

    Sampling Waste Water in China

    Criminalising independent investigation

    Perhaps one of the most worrying precedents in this initiative is the criminalisation of investigations or monitoring conducted without the government's permission. Scientists, independent NGOs like Greenpeace, journalists or even school children would face a fine if they were to conduct investigations without permission of the government. It would deny the Mexican people the right to know what is being released into the rivers they rely upon.

    Privatizing our future

    The law also furthers a system of water privatization, giving big companies the right to do what they want with our water via concessions, move it from one river to another, use huge amounts for mega-projects or pollute freely. This would further entrench a broken system: 70% of Mexico's rivers are polluted and the availability of clean water is rapidly decreasing.

    Activists from the Agua Para Tod@s coalition protest at the CONAGUA office in Mexico City.

    However, there is hope. A growing movement of civil society organisations, renowned scientists, some of the country's most respected academics and a host of celebrities have joined the thousands speaking out against this law. The law has already been delayed once and the voices against it are growing . Over 100,00 have signed an online petition and this weekend thousands took to the streets and to tweets to defend Mexico's water.

    Another way: a people's law

    The movement has also proposed its own solution: a people's water law (in Spanish) developed over two years by over 450 different experts in the field. This 'people's law' would work towards protecting Mexico's water resources for the future generations: it would regulate and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and, unlike the current proposal, guarantee the Mexican people's human right to access clean water.

    Mexico is at a crossroads. The next few weeks will decide the future of the country's precious water but this is not just an issue for people here in Mexico, this law sets a dangerous precendent about how we use and treat the world's water.

    We need you. Join the movement and help us take this to an international stage by adding your name to the petition and sharing this news with your contacts.

    Robin Perkins is the Detox Programme Leader for Greenpeace Mexico. He tweets @RobinJPerkins.

  • The global water crisis – The elephant in the room

    Why are so few talking about coal's impact on already scarce water resources?

    Despite the global water crisis being identified as the top risk to people across the globe, very few are taking a stand to protect dwindling water resources from the huge planned global growth of coal-fired power stations.

    Although, water and energy are two hotly debated topics in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals discussions, no one seems to be joining up the dots by linking these two critical issues. The fact is that the planned coal expansion will contribute to water crises, as the energy sector usually wins against us when it comes to who gets access to this precious resource

    Water risk is connected to two other big risks: failure to adapt to climate change and the food crisis. The World Economic Forum Global Risk Report has also reclassified it from an environmental risk to a societal risk, recognising the urgency to tackle water scarcity on various fronts. For people's wellbeing.

    Despite the looming water scarcity crisis, there are plans for more than 1350 new coal plants expected to go online by 2025. Much of the proposed coal expansion is in already water stressed regions - regions that already have limited available water for sanitation, health and livelihoods.

    Climate Scientists made it blatantly clear again in January 2015 that we need to keep more than 80 percent of current coal reserves in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. So, besides coal being the largest threat to our climate - building 1350 proposed coal plants will make the 2 degree limit impossible – if the current expansion goes ahead, our scarce water resources will be diverted away from agriculture and domestic use to be used instead to burn coal and drive even more dangerous climate change. What's more important? electricity to power an ever more imbalanced global economy or billions of people having enough food and water to sustain themselves?

    With energy, we have lots of options to choose from. With water, we don't.

    You know why renewables like wind and solar PV don't need water? We don't use fuel. We don't wash fuel. We don't burn fuels. No need to use water for cooling. No need to use water to wash away the ash. No toxic wastewater to manage.

    In addition to water savings, renewable energy also cuts CO2 – two benefits for the price of one. Voila!

    Water Use by Power plants Infographic

    THIRSTY COAL SLIDESHOW

    THIS SLIDESHOW ILLUSTRATES WATER USE AND IMPACTS AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF THE COAL LIFECYCLE
    Water is used to extract and to wash coal. In power plants, water is used in three main processes: cooling, pollution control and waste management.
    Image Gallery.. 

    These conflicts are unfolding on an unprecedented scale but are avoidable.

    With energy, we have lots of options to choose from. With water, we don't.

    You know why renewables like wind and solar PV don't need water? We don't use fuel. We don't wash fuel. We don't burn fuel. No need to use water for cooling. No need to use water to wash away the ash. No toxic wastewater to manage.

    Tweet your thoughts about why Coal is the enemy of water, rather than an 'Inseparable Friend'

      

    Thirsty coal impacts on people – The Facts

    • Let's try to put coal's water use in human terms: the World Health Organization (WHO) says that between 50 to 100 litres of water is needed per person per day for the most basic needs. That's 36.5 cubic meters per person per year. Coal plants globally consume 37 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water, according to a 2012 study by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Thus, globally coal plants consume as much water as the basic needs of 1 billion people.
    • 1.2 billion people, or almost one-third of the world's population, now live in countries with physical water scarcity (water resources development is approaching or has exceeded sustainable limits).
    • South Africa, a water-stressed country with a water availability of only 973m3 of water per capita, is over 90 percent dependent on coal for electricity generation. Eskom, South Africa's main energy company, consumes the same amount of water in one second to run its power plants as one person uses in a year. As a result, some local residents are forced to buy bottled water, because no clean drinking water is available.
    • India, with the second biggest proposed coal plant fleet in the world, is already a water-stressed nation, with an alarming 3.5 percent of the world's water resources to support 1.2 billion lives.
    • India's coal plants will consume water that can irrigate at least one million hectares of farmland. Over the last decade, 40,000 farmers have committed suicide in the state of Maharashtra due to lack of water for irrigation.
    • For China, the biggest proposed coal plant fleet in the world, has an alarming 5 percent of the world's water resources for 1.3 billion people.

    Billions of cubic litres of water is used at each stage of the coal lifecycle. Water is used to extract and to wash coal, and in power plants, water is used in three main processes: cooling, pollution control and for managing coal ash.

    Every 3.5 minutes a typical coal-fired power plant withdraws enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

    Coal's massive water grab will tip the water crisis over the edge, but it can be averted by
    fast-tracking clean, abundant renewable energy resources, just look at the difference it would make, not just for our climate, but also to our water usage for power generation.

    Iris Cheng is a Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace International

  • Arctic sea ice: When the maximum is not enough

    Calving Glacier in Svalbard. 09/08/2014 © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

    Ice is not exactly what's on top of your mind when you're sitting in an air-conditioned office, or in your cosy home. But if you're worried about climate change, like I am, then you might want to sit down before reading any further.

    There are a few indicators that come out every year that really help us to grasp the magnitude of the changes going on in our world. The Arctic 'sea ice maximum' is one of these and the best thing about it is that you don't need to be a scientist (or in my case, a climate campaigner) to understand the urgent message loud and clear.

    The Arctic sea ice maximum is the annual measurement of the maximum extent of sea ice reached in the winter months. Put simply: how much sea ice grows back each year. But this year is exceptional.

    The folks at the NSIDC have just announced the annual Arctic sea ice maximum extent for this year and unfortunately it's not good news at all – it's yet another record low.

    The extent of sea ice is 14.54 million km2, some 1.1 million km2 below the 1981-2010 average and 130,000 km2 below the previous lowest extent that occurred in 2011.

    Arctic Sea Ice Extent

    I don't know what you think, but I wonder what a 10 year old might say when looking at these pictures. For me it makes it crystal clear how cynical Shell's attempts to drill in the Arctic are. They're partly responsible for this uncomprehensible change and now they want to profit from it, and it makes me both scared and extremely angry at the same time.

    What scares me is that the window to act is getting smaller and smaller. And I'm angered by the fact that we have all the technology needed to reverse this run away madness. If it wasn't for Shell and the other big fossil giants trying to stop us from developing, we would be well into a renewable economy by now. Unfortunately fossil fuels still recieve four times as many subsidies as renewble energy. And right now, Shell is hoping to receive a permit to start expoliting the Arctic from the Obama adminsistration.

    But Shell won't ever have our permission! Help Save the Arctic.

    Join us in build a movement of people around the world that is strong enough to stop a giant like Shell.

    Isadora Wronski is a Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic.

  • Cameroon: An example of the work needed to combat illegal logging

    Oil Palm Nursery in Cameroon. 11/09/2012 © Greenpeace / Alex Yallop

    Policy wonks, experts, campaigners and other stakeholders met in Brussels this week to discuss progress under the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action plan.

    Yet the effectiveness of the FLEGT action plan should be judged by the impact it has far away from the meeting rooms, in the forests it is designed to protect.

    Almost half of Cameroon is forested – approximately 20 million hectares in total. Naturally with such resources available, commercial logging is commonplace and permitted under a variety of legal titles. Naturally again with such abundant forests, illegal activities have also long been commonplace including timber harvesting, tax evasion, infringement of the rights of forest communities and political and administrative corruption.

    The European Union (EU), which imports timber from Cameroon and other tropical countries, has attempted to tackle illegal logging right where it occurs by signing Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with exporting countries, including a VPA with the government of Cameroon in May 2010. This agreement entered into force in December 2011. Like all VPAs, the agreement is called "voluntary" because countries voluntarily choose to sign an agreement with the EU. Once signed, it is of cause binding to both parties, like any formal agreement between states. Sadly, many Cameroonian officials seemingly fail to grasp this.

    The purpose of the VPA is to improve forest governance and ensure that wood imported into the EU complies with the legal requirements of the partner country. Under the agreement, exporting countries will develop a system to check the legality of their timber, while the EU supports partner countries – financially and with expertise – to establish or improve their verification and governance systems.

    The question today is whether or not there has been an improvement in forest governance and, consequently, a reduction of illegal logging e.g. in Cameroon? The answer is a resounding NO.

    Forest Clearing in Cameroon. 11/09/2012 © Greenpeace / Alex Yallop

    In a recent report the reputable British think tank Chatham House, found that "illegal logging in Cameroon and the response to this issue suggest that progress has stalled since 2010". The criticism goes further: "The reform of the legislative framework for the forest sector is yet to be completed, the principle of transparency is yet to be broadly accepted within the government, enforcement is weak, corruption still remains widespread and the political will needed to drive change is felt to be lacking".

    All of these deficiencies were supposed to be addressed by the VPA, yet the effects of illegal logging are still very visible and spreading throughout the forestry sector.

    Sadly, corruption systems are well established and embedded in the governance system. It will take more than a VPA to tackle the level of corruption in a country that has been so consistently prominent on the corruption index of Transparency International; and it is likely to take more than a VPA with the EU to eradicate illegal logging in Cameroon.

    In May 2014, Greenpeace Africa published the report "Licence to Launder" that revealed how US palm oil company Herakles Farms was, via the front company Uniprovince and with the knowledge of some Cameroonian authorities, commercialising timber even though much of it had been felled illegally using a permit obtained without following due process of the law. Greenpeace subsequently informed the relevant prosecutors in Yaoundé, Douala and Buea, but is yet to receive a response.

    Herakles Farms Forest Clearance in Cameroon. 07/21/2013 © Jan-Joseph Stok / Greenpeace

    Currently, the VPA also fails to adequately address the problem of "conversion timber" (wood that is cut during clearance for projects such as seaport construction, road construction, hydro-electric dams or agro industrial plantations). Recent research has found that a great portion of tropical timber found on the international market comes from illegal forest conversion operations. This was also raised as a problem during the meetings in Brussels this week.

    The EU and the Cameroon government must address this issue by explicitly covering conversion timber as part of the implementation process of the VPA.

    Effective implementation of the VPA process is sluggish at best, and stalling in the case of Cameroon. This is in no small parts due to the lack of commitment and deficiencies in governance on the part of the Cameroon government. Faced with these deficiencies and a failing system, the EU must recognise these shortcomings and shoulder its responsibility as a partner in the deal: Cameroon must be put under more pressure to honour its commitments, and until implementation improves, timber from Cameroon is a high risk import good, requiring rigorous checks to verify legality.

    Ultimately, the EU and its member states have promised its citizens to fight illegal logging and prevent illegal timber from entering the EU market, regardless of its source.

    Ever wondered just how easy it is to become an illegal logger? Find out and sign our petition.

    Eric Ini is a forests campaigner with Greenpeace Africa based in Yaoundé, Cameroon.


     

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1389934114001415

    http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/Papers/PCerutti1201.pdf

    http://www.euflegt.efi.int/documents/10180/23031/FLEGT+Voluntary+Partnership+Agreement+Between+Cameroon+and+the+European+Union+-+Briefing+Note+May+2010/5f47e9fd-4eca-4d8c-b385-97d4581125ae

    http://blog.cifor.org/27153/in-hunt-for-resources-congo-forest-communities-feel-the-squeeze-early-research-shows#.VQQswVhFDQl

    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/international/publications/forests/2014/Licence-to-Launder.pdf

  • What the fashion industry looks like after 4 years of Detox

    10% of the global retail fashion industry is committed to eliminating toxic chemicals. But without you, this would've been zero.

    This is what hundred of thousands of people can do when they are united in the belief that beautiful fashion should be made free from hazardous chemicals – and most importantly, when they have the courage to take action.

    So today, Greenpeace East Asia can finally reveal the second instalment of the Detox Catwalk, an online platform charting the progress made by 18 committed companies down the runway to Detox. Is your favourite fashion label a Detox Leader?

    Detox Impacts Infographic

    From factories cleaning up their wastewater, through to massive sports brands talking about a paradigm shift – the #PeoplePowered Detox campaign is having a big impact right along the supply chain. Our campaigners from the EU, Mexico, Indonesia, Philippines and China are starting to see the slow wheels of policy and legislation creak into action.

    See for yourself.                         

    This might all be great progress but water pollution has not disappeared overnight.

    Take China for instance where 64% of urban underground water is seriously polluted; or Indonesia where 80% of water pollution in the capital’s main river comes from the textile industry.

    Be part of the story rewriting fashion. Join the Detox movement.

    If we can achieve so much in just four years, imagine what we might be saying in 2019!

    Yixiu Wu is a Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

  • Cracking down on illegal and destructive fishing

    Cornelis Vrolijk Fishing Vessel near Mauritania. 03/23/2012 © Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace

    Between €9 - €23bn worldwide is lost every year to illegal fishing, much of it driven by organized crime. Before legislation came into force in 2011, an estimated €1.1bn worth of illegal fishing products was imported into the EU.

    Illegal fishing is often linked to environmental crimes that damage marine habitats and animals; foster food insecurity in developing countries' human, drugs and arms trafficking, and forced labour on board fishing vessels.

    But too little is being done to stop illegal fishing, and when action is taken, it's rarely enough. On March 10, a giant Dutch trawler was convicted of fishing illegally in a protected area off England's southwest coast. Royal Navy inspectors found over £400,000 of illegal mackerel stashed on the Frank Bonefaas, yet its owners were required to pay fines of just over £100,000, and were allowed to sell the fish. With such low penalties easily factored into business costs, it's no surprise that monster vessels can become serial offenders.

    The Frank Bonefaas is part of the European Pelagic Freezer-Trawler Association (PFA). Five of its member vessels have been implicated in illegal fishing practices over the last three years and Greenpeace denounced several PFA vessels in a recent exposé of 20 examples of the most destructive vessels in Europe.

    The UK-flagged Cornelis Vrolijk is another PFA vessel, the largest in the UK fleet, and controlled by the same Dutch parent company as the Frank Bonefaas. Incredibly, the Cornelis Vrolijk holds 23% of England’s fishing quota alone

    The Cornelis Vrolijk is symbolic of what's wrong with the EU fishing quota system. All this is why Greenpeace is calling for the prioritisation of local, low impact fishing vessels, because they currently don't have enough fishing quota to survive. 

    Elsewhere, large vessels are also favoured at the expense of low impact fishers and sustainable oceans. In Denmark, the fishing quota has resulted in just 105 vessels – 15% of the total fishing fleet – catching 90% of the fish.

    Operation Sparrow

    On March 12, the Spanish government launched 'Operation Sparrow' to investigate and crack down on illegal fishing, raiding the offices of notorious Spanish illegal fishing company Vidal Armadores, which Greenpeace exposed back in 2011. Since 1999, the company has racked up at least 11 fishing vessel arrests, seven convictions, €3 million in fines and three confiscated vessels.

    Despite this, associated companies in the Vidal network were awarded around €16 million in fishing subsidies by the EU and the Spanish government. That's taxpayer's money: while we're all funding them, they trash the oceans.

    The Spanish government’s crackdown has other significant implications: Spanish companies (and very possibly the Vidals) are accused of being behind fishing vessels (Kunlun, Songhua and Yongding) recently caught red-handed fishing illegally in Antarctic waters in the Southern Ocean. After the New Zealand authorities chased them, Interpol got involved and they were denounced by CCAMLR (the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which governs fishing in the Southern Ocean and had blacklisted two of the ships), the Kunlun was arrested on March 16, in Phuket, Thailand, with 180 tonnes of Antarctic toothfish on board.  

    New Regime

    In 2013, the EU agreed a new set of fishing rules under the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy), requiring member states to end overfishing and to promote a shift towards low-impact fishing.

    There is much to do. Fines for illegal fishing must be large enough to deter companies from taking the risk. Market avenues for illegal and unsustainable catch must be closed down. Vessels with a track record of illegal fishing must be excluded from receiving fishing subsidies. Governments must now take bold steps to live up the new requirements they commit to under the new CFP and put a halt to overfishing, while giving right of way to those fishing with a low impact on our oceans.

    Take action at www.greenpeace.org/fishfairly

    Why Europe's low impact fishermen should get more quota: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/monster-boats/blog/51969/

    Celia Ojeda Martinez is an Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Spain and Ariana Densham is an Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace UK.

  • Is this a blip or a tip in humanity's onslaught on the climate?

    Singapore Haze Pollution Hits All-Time High. 06/18/2013 © Ferina Natasya / Greenpeace

    Reports that the growth in carbon pollution paused last year should give heart to climate campaigners and clean energy investors around the world. The figures, from the International Energy Agency, no less, will come as a cold shower to those who still believe that burning fossil fuels is inextricably bound to economic growth.

    For the first time in 40 years, global carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector did not increase. During 2014, the global economy grew by 3 percent but emissions remained at 2013 levels. "This is a real surprise. We have never seen this before", IEA chief economist Fatih Birol was reported as saying.

    Whether a blip or a tipping point, it is an indication that renewable energy and energy efficiency are becoming serious game-changers.

    If, despite the overwhelming evidence and the internationally agreed scientific consensus, you are someone who still believes climate change is contentious, take a moment, inhale deeply, and think about what a tip could mean for millions of people who are forced to breathe polluted air.

    Consider the air quality in some Chinese cities where extreme air pollution means young children have never seen the stars. China's carbon dioxide emissions have dropped for the first time since 2001, largely due to a drop in coal use by factories that have become the workshop of the world. Yet this hasn't resulted in a slowdown of the country's economy -- something that my colleagues in Greenpeace East Asia have been saying for a while.

    Or consider the air quality in Delhi which continues to rival that of Beijing's. Let me here give a shout-out to the High Court of India that recently ruled that standing up against the polluting coal industry doesn't constitute "anti-nationalism." My colleague, Priya Pillai embodies the boldness of thousands of people across the globe who are proving their courage in the face of relentless polluters.

    Does development really have to be founded on choking levels of smog and ever-rising carbon pollution or can it be achieved under the clear skies of a future based on renewable energy?

    Aside from the progress being achieved in China, the IEA's figures, due to be released in full in a report in June, show that OECD countries' carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 4 percent over the past five years while their economies grew by nearly 7 percent.

    In the European Union, renewable energy sources, led by wind and solar, last year proved central to meeting the additional power needs of its Member States. Renewables also met over half of those needs in the US, where 180 coal plants have become obsolete in the past four years. It is a testament to the thousands of forward-thinking engineers and business people who have harnessed the wind and the sun as serious options for generating power.

    I wonder how the IEA's figures are going down in the boardrooms of fossil fuel companies, whose defenders continue to pump millions of dollars into anti-climate change PR campaigns and then scurry away when confronted with scrutiny.

    Deep in their hearts they must know that pillaging the planet to power businesses and warm our homes is wrong and a zero-sum game. Why are they so sadly lacking in morality?

    Offshore Wind Farm Borkum Riffgat in Germany. 06/23/2013 © Paul Langrock / Greenpeace

    Surely they see that the writing is on the wall. It is manifested in the countless numbers of solar panels blossoming on rooftops and in communities across the world. It is being sung by the whirring of wind farms that are capturing increasing amounts of pollution-free energy. And it can be heard in the growing number of voices that are calling for a halt to climate change and for holding polluters accountable.

    Renewable energy and energy efficiency are already making important inroads in stemming air pollution. The vast untapped potential for clean energy must not be lost on governments as they prepare to conclude a new climate agreement in Paris, this December. The question is whether governments will stand up for their citizens and set in stone ambitious targets that allow us all to live within the 'safe' limits of the biosphere.

    I hold out the hope that the world will shortly turn a corner in combating global warming. At the very least, we have a firm example that curbing global emissions while economies expand is not a fanciful notion. Meanwhile, the onward march of clean energy is becoming unstoppable.

    I believe that the goal of a world running entirely on renewably energy by the middle of this century is far from science fiction, and it is a goal that all of us -- governments, corporations and citizens -- should aim for.

    Now, again, take a deep breath and consider who your government should be standing up for: you or the fossil fuel industries?

    Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

  • European coal pollution limits worse than China – is that the best we can do?

    Hazardous Level of Air Pollution in Beijing. 01/15/2015 © Yang Di / Greenpeace

    New rules that were supposed to help tackle deadly air pollution in Europe could result in weaker rules than are currently in place in China (notorious for its poor air quality), a Greenpeace investigation has revealed.

    The new pollution limits for large industrial plants currently being discussed by the European Union are also several times weaker than what's already been achieved by the best performing plants in other developed economies, including the US and Japan.

    Our investigation further reveals that what EU officials identify as the required 'best available techniques' to reduce harmful emissions, would in reality allow several times more toxic pollution than those already adopted by many coal plant operators around the world. In other words, they are not the best available techniques.

    This is important, since the process of agreeing new pollution standards was set up to tackle the harmful health impacts of coal and other industrial emitters. Toxic fumes from the EU's coal-fired power stations caused an estimated 22,300 premature deaths in 2010, with a separate study estimating the total for the UK at a staggering 1,600 per year.

    Over half the working group members across the EU (183 out of 352) are industry lobbyists. And in dozens of cases, members of staff from coal-burning firms are taking part in the process, not as formal industry representatives, but as government delegates appointed by the member states.

    Even several of the genuinely independent EU country representatives have been known to regularly advocate the positions of polluting companies and interest groups, often using statements directly copied from industry lobbyists. For instance, a representative of the UK Environment Agency used a written comment identical to ones made by energy lobbyists Eurelectric and RWE to argue that certain energy efficiency techniques were too expensive. We found several other examples of what appears to be copy and paste from industry lobbyists.

    This is a classic case of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse – coal companies should be nowhere near these talks. And while David Cameron has rightly committed to phase out unabated coal power stations, this pledge is undermined by the UK delegation’s attempts to water down air pollution standards. Prioritising the profits of big energy companies over the health of tens of thousands like this is simply unacceptable.

    Lawrence Carter in an Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace UK.