Margaret Atwood, alongside more than 100 authors worldwide sign Greenpeace’s pledge for free speech and forest protection

Press release - May 31, 2017
Yann Martel, Naomi Klein and JM Coetzee stand with Greenpeace.

Yann Martel, Naomi Klein and JM Coetzee stand with Greenpeace.

Toronto, 31 May 2017 -- More than 100 authors from around the world including Nobel Prize winner John Maxwell Coetzee (Disgrace); Booker prize winners Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Yann Martel (Life of Pi); writer and comedian Stephen Fry (More Fool Me); and thought leaders Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) and Rebecca Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me) signed a pledge [1] with Greenpeace to support free speech and stand up for forests.

“The endings of The Handmaid's Tale, 1984 and Brave New World are written. Ours is not. This is a chance to stand up for freedom of speech, the freedom to advocate for change, and the freedom to question authority, and to strengthen their protection under law. As a society, we need a positive outcome to this story,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which recently became a television series and paints a portrait of a dystopian future where all but the most powerful women are forbidden to write and are denied access to books.

Authors signing the pledge committed to defend “freedom of speech as a pillar of democratic and peaceful societies, the right of individuals to organize and protest without intimidation, [and] those who peacefully protect the world’s forests.”

"Ultimately we all benefit from free speech. If Resolute Forest Products manages to shut Greenpeace up with its heavy-handed legal tactics, we ALL lose. This is not just a question of preserving our environment but our civil society," said author Yann Martel.

On May 16th, Greenpeace published a report [2] that showed major international publishers are purchasing paper from Resolute. [3] Greenpeace is inviting these global publishers to join this call to protect freedom of speech and work with Resolute to become more sustainable.

“It is a dilemma for global publishers to source paper from a company that is fundamentally threatening the right to free speech. Without this fundamental right, think of how many books, how many ideas, would have been suppressed,“ said Head of Forest Campaign for Greenpeace Canada, Shane Moffatt.

“We are asking these publishers to help convince Resolute to drop the lawsuits and instead embrace forest protection. As big customers, they have a responsibility to work with Resolute and others to deliver solutions that ensure a healthy forest for future generations, respect Indigenous rights and support local communities.”

Other authors who signed the pledge include Man Booker winners Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) and Ian McEwan (Atonement), MacArthur Award winner Deborah Eisenberg (Twilight of the Superheros), Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See), Governor General winner Miriam Toews (A Complicated Kindness), Award-winning novelist and Member of the Order of Canada Louise Penny (Still Life), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies), William Shatner (Up Till Now), Alec Baldwin (Nevertheless), Jane Fonda (My Life So Far) and many more.

Greenpeace will be at Book Expo this week in New York, connecting with publishers and readers, and displaying an art installation called Treewhispers by artist Pamela Paulsrud, an ongoing international collaboration awakening our heartfelt connection to trees.

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Notes to editors:

[1] Click here to see the full text of the authors’ pledge and the list of signatories, or copy the following URL to your browser:

[2] Click here to access the full “Clearcutting Free Speech: How Resolute Forest Products is going to extremes to silence critics of its controversial logging practices” report, or copy the following URL to your browser:

[3] In its report, Greenpeace is asking Resolute Forest Products to:

  • Adopt Free Prior and Informed Consent as the basis for engaging with Indigenous Peoples to ensure forest planning is driven by Indigenous knowledge and governance.
  • Suspend logging in and sourcing from High Conservation Value Forests including Intact Forest Landscapes and Woodland Caribou habitat until science-based conservation planning takes place.
  • Publicly support large-scale, protected areas based on this science and Indigenous knowledge.
  • Recommit to the FSC system and regain lost certificates.
  • Work with environmental organizations, unions and communities to address legitimate economic concerns and ensure jobs are sustained.

[4] Click here to obtain images, videos and other materials related to this release, or copy the following URL to your browser:

Philippa Duchastel de Montrouge, Greenpeace Canada, , phone: 514-929-8227