David Ritter

CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Hi, I’m David Ritter. It is my privilege to lead the team at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, where we are campaigning for a green and peaceful future for all. On this page you can connect with me and find out about what I’m doing in my role as Chief Executive Officer.

I was born in Perth, WA and I’m married with two beaut daughters.  In the past, I’ve worked as a lawyer and an academic, before spending five years with Greenpeace UK.  In July 2012 I came back to Australia to head up Greenpeace Australia Pacific, determined to make our campaigns as effective as possible.

I often write and speak about issues that I care deeply about.  I’ll keep a record of where I am speaking and what I am writing here and you can read a selection of my opinion pieces below. You can also refer to my catalogue at Global Policy, Griffith Review, The Huffington Post and The Drum. It would be great to hear from you, so please let me know if you have any feedback by emailing or by reaching out to me on Facebook and Twitter.

All the best,

Upcoming Events 

Good Pitch Australia: 8 November 2016, Sydney Opera House

Keynote speaker at Global Ecologies Conference23 November 2016, University of Sydney

Blogs, articles and publications


The latest updates


Our Race For Oil Will Come Back To Bight Us

Standard Page | 18 October, 2016 at 9:25

Contemplating drilling for oil at ocean depths even deeper than the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was a fool's mission from the outset. What followed was an unfolding story of faulty equipment, bungled approval applications and...

Dear Prime Minister, Our Kids Are Trusting Us On Climate Change

Standard Page | 18 October, 2016 at 14:44

I am writing to you today, not as a voter addressing Australia's leader, but as a father to a grandfather.

Australia, Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef

Standard Page | 20 October, 2016 at 17:09

David Ritter explores the world’s confusion over Australia’s lack of action over the deteriorating state of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Risk is Too High. Why Locals Don't Want BP in the Great Australian Bight

Standard Page | 18 October, 2016 at 15:13

Oil and gas multinational BP plans to drill in the near pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight, posing a terrible hazard to the future of the state. Now is the time to stop this threat before the fossil fuel industry takes hold.

Climate Change and Human Rights: The Imperative for Climate Change Migration with...

Standard Page | 28 June, 2016 at 15:02

Given that the impacts of climate change are already upon us, and that things can be expected to worsen considerably even if stay within less than two degrees of global warming (always more a political than a scientifically mandated limit, in any...

Seven Reasons why Environmentalists (should and do) care about Refugees

Standard Page | 25 June, 2016 at 12:00

With a growing number of global problems demanding our attention, CEO of GPAP David Ritter offers seven reasons why environmentalists care about refugees.

Government must shake off hangover of mining to unleash true innovation

Standard Page | 16 December, 2015 at 11:23

David Ritter is the chief executive officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific The boom is over, long live the boom. Such was the central message at the launch of Malcolm Turnbull’s national innovation and science agenda last week. According...

Under attack in Australia on World Environment Day

Standard Page | 9 June, 2015 at 14:33

First published on ABC Environment Australia’s environment has never needed a helping hand like it does now. Yet, more than ever, our leaders are turning their backs on our natural places.

Time for Abbott government to abandon attack-dog tactics in favour of serious strategy

Standard Page | 16 March, 2015 at 13:17

Tony Abbott's government is learning the hard way that an effective tactic for winning elections is not the same thing as a successful strategy for governing. Having applied attack-dog tactics on both climate and the environment in the lead-up...

The man without a face

Standard Page | 24 February, 2015 at 12:26

ACROSS THE WORLD, species of animals and plants are becoming extinct at an increasing rate. A few species finish their evolutionary run violently, in the spotlight. The last known wild thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) in Australia and passenger pigeon...

A year of reckoning

Standard Page | 11 February, 2015 at 11:42

After years of global inertia on climate issues, things began to move in late 2014. The US–China agreement – under which the US agreed to cut and China agreed to cap carbon pollution – while not sufficient in isolation, signalled that the world’s...

Tony Abbott's problem with Australia's most venerable institutions

Standard Page | 8 October, 2014 at 13:10

Should every TV and radio weather presenter in Australia call prime minister Tony Abbott and his advisors for their daily forecast? According to Abbott’s advisor Maurice Newman last week, the Bureau of Meteorology was wrong about, well, the...

'The Donors’ Dilemma' - Climate Change and the Future of Aid

Standard Page | 8 May, 2014 at 15:20

Climate change is a critical factor in the future of aid. The InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that a changing climate will bring more drought, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels, impacting on food production,...

Overthrow of King Coal crucial to bright future

Standard Page | 7 May, 2014 at 16:39

Clean energy sources will generate a new direction, writes David Ritter.

#AustraliansForCoal is the latest sign of an industry in values freefall

Standard Page | 7 May, 2014 at 15:20

During the second world war, my dad performed his war service down the coal mines in the UK. The work cost him his sense of smell, but gave him a profound sense of camaraderie and regard for the men he served with down in the coal pits. Until the...

Beyond Apathy: Acting on Climate Change

Standard Page | 20 January, 2014 at 16:45

How did climate change action ‐ once ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’ − become political poison? When (and why) did we fall from the giddy heights of the Kyoto Protocol signing, and the rise of emissions reduction...

The industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef

Standard Page | 18 December, 2013 at 14:21

In weighing up the interests of the Great Barrier Reef against those of transnational coal companies, Greg Hunt decided it was more important to protect the latter, writes David Ritter.

An open letter to NSW farmer Phil Laird: Greenpeace stands with you

Standard Page | 18 December, 2013 at 14:42

NSW farmer Phil Laird is fighting to protect Maules Creek from a company wanting to dig an open-cut coal mine. If he will have us, we will answer his call and add our name to his struggle, writes David Ritter.

Passion for prosperity via nature

Standard Page | 29 November, 2013 at 14:21

Never has the environment occupied so central a position in the nation's political debate as it does presently. And never, arguably, has that debate been so contested.

Progressive Politics and the Environment in Australia: what now?

Standard Page | 25 November, 2013 at 10:11

In the wake of a Federal Election in which environmental issues and other progressive causes seemed to take a backseat or go backwards, David Ritter takes a critical look at where we are and how to get the national agenda moving again.

I'm In! - Progress 2013 Wrap Up Video

Standard Page | 25 November, 2013 at 10:00

At a pivotal moment in the aftermath of a most extraordinary Federal Election, Progress 2013 featured fascinating debates on the big issues facing Australia, practical workshops from the world's leading change makers, and plenty of space to...

Best of Times, Worst of Times and End Times: Eight Books about Australia's Past,...

Standard Page | 23 October, 2013 at 17:30

A review of eight books about Australian politics, written by David Ritter and Jessica Panegyres.

Sunrise: 'Arctic 30' refute claims of piracy

Standard Page | 14 October, 2013 at 15:48

David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, appears on Weekend Sunrise to discuss the inappropriateness of piracy charges for the Arctic 30.

A passion for conservation is not piracy

Feature Story | 1 October, 2013 at 9:58

Greenpeace activists who travelled to the far north because of a shared conviction about the madness of drilling for oil are now being investigated for piracy. The obvious injustice of the situation has sparked a world-wide wave of peaceful protests.

Over the horizon: Next steps for sustainable cities and the world

Standard Page | 30 September, 2013 at 11:51

David Ritter joined Lord Mayor Clover Moore; Dr David Suzuki; Alex Wyatt, Founder, Climate Bridge; Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Commissioner, Australian Climate Commission; and Anna Rose, author and environmentalist, to discuss how governments,...

Hunt’s direct action on rainforest could reap carbon rewards

Standard Page | 9 September, 2013 at 11:45

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt’s ambition to broker a new global rainforest recovery plan reopens an important conversation about Australia’s role in tackling tropical deforestation. And it reminds us there is much Australia could do...

Australia, land of market domination

Standard Page | 27 August, 2013 at 10:22

Power remains highly concentrated in many sectors, from banking to the retail food industry. This aggregation of control should be scrutinised.

The coal industry v everyone else: who will win?

Feature Story | 9 July, 2013 at 12:36

The stark choice between the 'climate makers' and the rest of us underlines a competition of two radically different visions. It is a fight over the very future of Australia

Coal industry the ‘angry drunk’ in politics

Standard Page | 20 June, 2013 at 16:30

The chief of the Australian Coal Association’s response to the anti-coal movement last week was predictable – bullies always hate it when people stand up to them.

Coal, climate and civil disobedience

Standard Page | 3 May, 2013 at 10:23

Today in Australia, the profound global threat posed by climate change could not be clearer. Yet none of the major parties are proposing any action to curb our coal export trade.

Thermal coal exports killing our future

Feature Story | 17 April, 2013 at 15:37

By David Ritter, originally posted in The Australian: A MOMENT has been reached in our national history where the prosperity and wellbeing of Australia are at threat. Radical plans to expand coal exports endanger our most precious places...

VIDEO: The New Politics of Freedom

Standard Page | 22 April, 2013 at 16:29

David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, speaks at the Thinking For Yourself conference (La Trobe University) about the cost involved when we treat our right to consume resources as inviolable and unlimited.

Business attitude to environment depends on bottom line

Standard Page | 25 February, 2013 at 17:10

Corporations will only act responsibly towards the environment if it is in the firm's commercial interest to do so. 'Brand attack' campaigns and government regulation are our best weapons, writes David Ritter.

Will the WA Libs Distribute Boom Wealth More Evenly?

Standard Page | 22 April, 2013 at 16:25

Of course they won't, says David Ritter, but the weird thing is they've managed to convince a lot of people otherwise

2013: the year a whispering became a roar

Standard Page | 22 April, 2013 at 16:18

Cutting ‘green tape’ won’t make a more prosperous Australia

Standard Page | 26 April, 2013 at 13:11

Proposed changes to Australia’s national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) 1999, appear to have been shelved. The politics have shifted rapidly. Ultimately, the proposals were dumped because they were not a...

Environmental movement needs the human touch

Standard Page | 25 February, 2013 at 17:30

Greenpeace CEO David Ritter considers whether environmental activists have talked too much about targets and quotas instead of real people's lives.

‘CanDo’ What? Global Dynamics and Local Power in Queensland

Standard Page | 19 February, 2013 at 17:00

David Ritter explores the confluence local circumstances and global dynamics animating Queensland’s politics, and the likely implications for good governance, the Great Barrier Reef and greenhouse gas emissions.

PODCAST: Radio National, Sunday Extra with Jonathan Green, Sunday 12 August 2012

Standard Page | 16 July, 2013 at 17:36

Are today's environmental activists in a losing, but desperate battle? How can we best protect the environment and tackle climate change? New CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, David Ritter, spoke to RN Sunday Extra about the environmental...

PODCAST: Radio National, Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Standard Page | 17 July, 2013 at 18:06

The new head of Greenpeace Australia Pacific says he wants to help bring his organisation (and the environment movement in general) "in from the cold," fearing both may have lost their way.

Gas hub fight not over: new chief

Standard Page | 31 July, 2013 at 14:15

Greenpeace's new Australian head yesterday labelled as "crazy" the location of Woodside Petroleum's $30 billion LNG project at James Price Point in the Kimberley and predicted the battle was not over despite its approval last month by the...

Greenpeace head urges climate consensus

Standard Page | 31 July, 2013 at 14:10

Australia faces serious trouble from climate change unless our politicians can reach consensus on the issue and lead the global fight to reduce emissions, the new CEO of Greenpeace says.

Taking a moral stand

Standard Page | 31 July, 2013 at 14:04

Lawyer-turned-activist David Ritter will become the new head of Greenpeace Australia Pacific tomorrow. He talks exclusively to Deborah Snow.