Our ship Rainbow Warrior conducts the first ever comprehensive study of plastic on Hong Kong's waters and calls on the city to go "plastic-free now", urging fast food outlets to stop using disposable cutlery.
Rainbow Warrior research checklist
Step 1: Slow ship speed to 2 knots.
Step 2: Record water salinity, time, location, and weather conditions.
Step 3: Use the Manta Net to collect samples from the sea surface.
Step 4: Examine the samples in the lab and make a preliminary classification.
Step 5: Use Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) to analyze its composition.
Warm welcome for the Rainbow Warrior
Voyage of discovery
On the morning of 20 December last year the Rainbow Warrior slowly cruised into Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong to investigate our plastics problem.
Welcome on board
With the amazing help of 550 volunteers we held six successful open days for the Rainbow Warrior at Pier 2 in Central. More than 6,300 visitors toured her decks to meet the crew, listen to stories about her history and the plastic free voyage.
Survey the plastic crisis
The Rainbow Warrior set sail with her research crew headed by Dr. Lincoln Fok from the Education University of Hong Kong on 5 January and surveyed more than 10 sites.
Sampling gear Manta Net
The research team collected samples of plastic trash from the sea for the next 10 days. They then sorted the samples into five categories: Styrofoam, fibres, plastic film, hard plastic fragments and microbeads, and sent them to the lab to analyze the composition of each fragment.
Sampling 23 times in 10 days
The team also trawled for floating plastic waste to gather more information on the distribution of plastics in the ocean and determine where they come from.
Stay tuned for the research results
Whatever the weather – cloudy, raging winds, fierce waves - for the sake of our oceans, our crew get up at the crack of dawn and worked without fear. We are eagerly awaiting the results of the research out later this year.
임은영（Im Eun Young）
Our battle against single-use plastics
On the heels of our successful microplastics campaign, in 2017, we continued with our anti-microplastics work and supersized the campaign by focusing on the scourge of disposable plastics handed out by the fast food industry.
No more microplastic makeup2017.04
Local chain 759 Store owner Lam Wai-chun makes his promise to phase out microplastics as soon as possible live on Facebook. Retailer A.S. Watson Group also promises to stop using microplastics in some of their own brand products.
What brands are on our beaches?2017.09
We hold special beach clean ups along Hong Kong’s coastline and record the product brand if visible to better understand where all this plastic trash is coming from.
Tell McDonald’s: I’m NOT loving it!2017.09
We assemble a volunteer team and discover that in a single two-hour lunchtime, the 240 McDonald’s outlets here generate more than 200,000 single-use plastic items. This global giant must stop its throwaway plastic nightmare.
Paradise island or plastic island?2017.10
Greenpeace visits 10 of Hong Kong's most beautiful beaches, but amid the blue-green paradise we find mounds of ugly plastic. Hong Kong must face up to the fact it is under siege from discarded waste.
No straws please, we love our planet2017.11
We survey Hongkongers and find that two thirds still use disposable plastics when they eat out. The good news is that 90% say they know plastics are a problem. Next time, will you say "no thank you" when offered a straw?
Pop-up Plastic popsicles store2017.11
The government finally said it would consult about a law to ban microplastics - a move so much slower than the rest of the region. We thus offer "plastic popsicles" in Causeway Bay to highlight the urgency of the problem.
The three fast-food chain ‘sins’2018.01
We identify the "three sins” of leading fast food chains: indiscriminate use of dine-in and takeout plastic; pretending to be environmentally-friendly by using recycled and allegedly “biodegradable” tableware; and a lack of transparency.
Reduction is king, recycling is bling2018.01
Maxim's MX, Pacific Coffee, and Café de Coral say they will introduce a plastics reduction policy. McDonald's also announces a new policy but we believe that it relies too much on recycling.
Greenpeace is committed to keeping up the pressure locally and globally to radically reduce the production and use of so much plastic.
02 Our love your stuff equation
Almost from birth we are taught that the meaning of life is about having more. But don't you think that there is a point when it all becomes just too much? Greenpeace has come up with an equation to help all of us figure out how to feel more and love more without destroying our planet.
Greenpeace and thousands of people from 32 countries and regions held MAKE SMTHING WEEK at the beginning of December. Artisans and designers in Hong Kong held upcycling classes where skills were shared, love was spread, and creativity was born.
We held six events in Hong Kong to nurture the skills and the mindfulness to repair our belongings from workshops to fixing up our favourite old clothes to “Closet Doctor” lectures to help us understand the difference between what we “want” and what we really “need”.
Just before Singles’ Day last year, we released the results of a new survey that showed 25% of cheap clothing bought online in Hong Kong will only be worn at most twice before being thrown away. We asked shoppers in malls to “buy less and waste less”.
With our Detox campaign running since 2011, Greenpeace has been fighting successfully for a cleaner textile industry – now 80 global textile brands and suppliers have committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals from their supply chains.
Love = upcycle + repair + save + detox
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Our 2017 survey of shopping habits
Shopping can’t buy you loveHongkongers are not happy shoppersJAN
In a survey in Hong Kong we found that the average person spends close to HKD10,000 every year on clothing, but 60% said that the feelings of happiness they got from buying something new wore off in less than a day.
Binge shopping gives you a hangover tooHongkongers are not sustainable shoppersMAY
Around half of the people from various countries we surveyed said they buy more than they need, and Hongkongers topped the charts - with 68% buying too much. Some 63% said peer pressure and social media pushed them to over-shop.
Holidays hijacked by FacebookYour social media is pushing you to spendJUN
We used a social analytics service to look at public posts on Facebook around Christmas, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day last year and found more than 30,000 posts were soft sells, encouraging people to spend more.
Net shopping creates mountain of wasteOnline bargains are fuelling wasteNOV
In Hong Kong, 23 million items of clothing are bought a year, with one quarter or 5.8 million pieces simply thrown away. All that extra packaging and delivery emissions means online shopping can be more destructive than going to the shops.
"Get rid of the unwanted things so you can build up what you really want." -- Hideko Yamashita, author of Danshari (Refusal, Disposal and Separation)
Hong Kong has so much untapped potential for renewable energy. Greenpeace is determined to really kick-start this potential to make our lives cleaner, richer and safer.
Let’s get this Solar Party started!
Want to guess how much of our energy here in Hong Kong comes from renewable energy? The answer is a meagre 0.1%. But according to a study by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, if all of Hong Kong's rooftops were to be installed with solar energy systems, it could supply between 6 and 10% of all our energy demands.
After many years of campaigning by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations, the government finally signed a Scheme of Control Agreement with the two power companies that will come into force at the end of 2018 and will for the first time ever introduce a feed-in tariff. What this means is that anyone in Hong Kong who generates their own renewable energy can connect it to the grid and sell it on at a higher rate than average.
Sipping sunshine at our Solar Café
It’s important to work with all stakeholders and so November last year, we co-organized a Renewable Dialogue Workshop to provide advice and encouragement for people and organizations wanting to install solar power systems. We are also pushing the government to further develop its pilot floating solar power project on Shek Pik Reservoir.
Last September, we opened our Solar Café at the Good Live Experimental Market in search of a Greenpeace of mind. Everyone enjoyed the vegan ice cream, lemon sorbet and of course, our delicious solar-powered coffee.
Joey Kwok / Greenpeace
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
BREAK FREE！for a world FREE of fossil fuels
Early last year, Greenpeace launched an open, global movement, called BREAK FREE. While we held our very own Solar Carnival where more than 200 people got together to make a giant sun pattern in Hong Kong, more than 60 countries and regions worldwide took part, pioneering innovative actions to embrace renewable energy.
Taiwan: Sisters doing it for themselves! They are calling for old coal power units to be scrapped as soon as possible.
Ai-Ju Wang / Greenpeace
Korea: Protesters in Dangjin, the city with one of the world’s largest coal plants stand united against fossil fuels.
Jung Taekyong / Greenpeace
Thailand: More than 200 local fishing boats BREAK FREE in the Mun River.
Arun Sooksukpai / Greenpeace
Indonesia: Activists unfurl a banner calling for the end of a coal-fired power plant project.
Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace
1997+20 = U vs U A new kind of Good Life!
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
If I could speak to the ‘me’ in 20 years’ time I’d ask myself if I remembered my ‘U vs U’ pledge with Greenpeace as it celebrated 20 years in Hong Kong? I would ask that ‘me’ did I stay committed, and work to realize a Good Life for me and my family? I trust that I will answer ‘Yes’!
Greenpeace established its first Hong Kong office on Valentine's Day in 1997. A fitting date, perhaps, because it was our love for the planet that brought us to the region. In these two decades, we have never been afraid to challenge governments or companies, and we are committed to continuing our environmental work locally, regionally and globally.
Small shifts can create big changes
As we marked our 20 years of tireless campaigning in Hong Kong last year, we also launched an exciting new ‘Good Life’ environmental philosophy. In our fast-paced and stressful lives, can we really do much to help the environment? Yes, we can! There are boundless possibilities for us to make tiny changes in our lives – It can be as easy as bringing your own coffee flask or being smarter about buying new clothes.
Let us oppose our throwaway culture; reject the costly easy life; and crush the urge to overconsume. The true battle for the planet is in our minds.
Last September, we held a Good Life Experimental Market and people signed up to make a 30-day pledge to reduce plastics in their lives. In December, we joined the global MAKE SMTHNG WEEK of action. Here in Hong Kong, 400 people took part and promised not to buy any new clothes for the next 21 days.
Sharing our 20 years of success with you
At the end of the year, we held an exhibition, GREENPEACE VS GREENPEACE, to showcase our 20 years of environmental work in the region. We remembered some dramatic campaigns - the day our activists chained themselves to the entrance of a Nestlé factory 16 years ago to protest their use of GM ingredients; and how we documented the world's largest e-waste dump site in Guiyu in Guangdong province. Together with you, Greenpeace has won some remarkable environmental battles.
With more than 1,000 people taking part, we held sharing activities on three major campaigns - fast fashion, plastic rubbish and renewable energy and also held a workshop on how to make a bag out of hemp. Visit 20th.greenpeace.org.hk and take our solemn pledge: I will live the Good Life!
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Thoughts from our dear supporters!
Mark (Greenpeace supporter since 1999):
"I care about nature because I'm also a lover of watersports, so I'm really happy to see that Greenpeace has recently launched a campaign against plastics. It is great that Greenpeace speak out for all of us (and sometimes even risk their lives!)"
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Louis (Greenpeace supporter since 2007):
"Actually, I can't remember when I first started to donate to Greenpeace. It’s good to see the progress made on long-lasting environmental problems and I hope that Greenpeace will continue to push producers and push for change."
Patrick Cho / Greenpeace
Fighting fires, funds and fury
Nicolas Fojtu / Greenpeace
Greenpeace East Asia plays a key role in using our local strengths to support global environmental campaigns – call it “glocal” if you like! Our forests campaign is one of the best examples of our “glocal” momentum.
Hongkongers are proud of their city’s status as a global financial centre. However, some international banks are funding forest destruction and Greenpeace is not afraid to call them out. When we found out that HSBC was one of the “dirty bankers”, our Hong Kong office used its unique advantage of being located in the heart of the financial world, to take action.
Every year, deadly forest infernos ravage Indonesia's rainforests because palm oil and paper pulp companies clear land for plantations using slash and burn techniques. We set up a Forest Fire Prevention Team to help in Indonesia. But this is not enough.
We start with HSBC…
In January last year, we released an in-depth investigative report, Dirty Bankers, exposing how HSBC had helped six palm oil companies that were engaged in deforestation to raise up to HKD140 billion, violating the bank's own sustainable development pledge. We also collected more than 270,000 signatures worldwide demanding HSBC stop. We handed the report in ourselves to the HSBC office in Mongkok.
And then the others follow…
In just a few weeks, HSBC said it would no longer fund companies involved in any kind of deforestation or peatland clearance. Thank you everyone for helping to make this campaign so strong so fast! Following HSBC’s lead, in April we got one of the world’s biggest palm oil traders, the IOI Group, to announce a sustainable palm oil policy and human rights protections.
Jurnasyanto Sukarno / Greenpeace
Fully Syafi / Greenpeace
Our voices are vital:
Resolute, a giant logging company in Canada, attempted to sue Greenpeace and other environmental groups. It was angry because we had exposed its destructive practices in Great Northern Forest, home to both endangered species and indigenous peoples.
In Taiwan, Greenpeace called on book lovers and local publisher Chingwin to join our global action, urging Resolute to stop invading freedom of speech and start adopting sustainable forest practices. It was supported by half a million people and 240 famous authors. In October 2017, a US federal court dismissed the case. Although Resolute says it has not given up, Greenpeace will not be frightened off from protecting forests.
Wang Ju / Greenpeace
Birds of an endangered feather:
China’s Yunnan province has huge tracts of untouched old-growth rainforest, yet it is under threats from illegal mining and dam construction. Greenpeace concerned about the last remaining habitat of 500 endangered green peafowl, so we immediately conducted a study and published our findings on the key threats to the park from illegal industry.
Just a month later, in August, Yunnan’s Environmental Protection Agency responded and promised to halt all illegal mining and dam activities inside the Konglong River Nature Reserve; study the green peafowl’s habitat; and include that area into a strictly-enforced protected zone.
Zhinong Xi / WildChina
Think different. Think green IT.
Tobias Goebbels / Greenpeace
The smartphone has truly taken over our lives, but it may take over the planet too – 65 million metric tons of e-waste is generated globally each year. While tech companies always trying to outdo each other with flashier gadgets, what we really need is a fundamental redesign that means smartphones are planet smart.
Last October, Greenpeace released its all new Guide to Greener Electronics 2017, ranking 17 of the largest smartphone, tablet and PC producers in terms of their energy use, resource consumption and chemical safety. Top of the pack was Holland's Fairphone (we gave it a B) closely followed by Apple (B-). The other industry leader, Samsung, only got a D- for its appalling energy policy – just 1% of its energy consumption came from renewable sources.
Ditch the disposable, adopt the usable
Chinese tech companies are going global, but their environmental performance leaves a lot to be desired: Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi came bottom of the class. Huawei, the third largest smartphone maker also lags in terms of energy use. We are able to criticize big companies like this because we do not accept any corporate support – you give us our independence.
One of the big issues is the IT sector’s attitude to design – ‘Planned Obsolescence’ to keep customers buying by deliberating making phones that quickly become outdated, difficult to repair and update. We want brands to ditch the disposable design, start recycling and make smartphones last.
Guide to Greener Electronics 2017
Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi:
Publishes no information on sustainability actions and ignores corporate responsibility. They got a ‘F’ grade in all three critical impact areas.
One of the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers, yet has very weak goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its production chain.
Leads the sector for its efforts to adopt renewable energy and on chemical management. However, not doing so well on making products repairable.
Leads in reducing resource consumption – its smartphones are easy to repair and upgrade, and improving product recyclability and transparency.
Don’t do dirty energy: #DoBiggerThings!
Did you watch the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics? We were there to push Samsung, one of the biggest sponsors of the Games, to seriously up its game – right now Samsung uses a measly 1% renewable energy in its production; hardly a gold medal score.
Thanks to the tireless work of people like you, our green tech campaigns have helped persuade nearly 20 IT giants, including Facebook, Google and Apple to commit to going 100% renewable. Samsung is too big a company to ignore and climate change.
But Samsung do listen to you.
Do you remember our great victory last March when we got Samsung to finally agree to recycle the 4.3 million recalled Galaxy Note 7's after some had exploded? For five months you signed petitions, held up banners, and sent messages to the company's CEO. If these phones were simply dumped, it would have meant tons more hazardous e-waste.
But with your support, Samsung committed to refurbishing the handsets and repurposing non-problematic components. For those that can't be reused, they will extract and recycle the raw materials in an environmentally-sound way. We need the sector to create a recycling strategy like this for all phones no longer in use.
Jung Taekyong / Greenpeace
Chong Kok Yew / Greenpeace
The scales are tipping towards safe energy.
Dayun Lim / Greenpeace
Korea is changing rapidly – both as a democratic society and from the point of view of energy development. In 2017, it is on the brink of a real energy revolution.
The newly-elected Moon Jae-in government said it will scrap plans for new nuclear plants and stop extending the lifetime of old nuclear reactors. It also promised to shut down 10 old coal power plants and cancel new coal projects. On the other hand, more than 1,000 locals and activists marched with us in Dangjin to stop the construction of one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world last year.
All give testament to a fact – together with local groups and supporters, long-term pressure and campaigning by our Korean team right from October 2011 when it was first established is paying off. Dual Jang, our Climate and Energy Team Leader from Seoul office has something to say: “We will challenge the powerful Korean industry to be accountable to people and the planet. And we will call on people to join in the energy transition and amplify their voices in the face of authority.”
New Moon, new energy
President Moon announced his plans for Korea's energy transition on June 19 last year – it was on the occasion of the first nuclear shutdown in Korean history – the Kori 1 power plant. The morning before, Greenpeace projected the message ‘New energy, new Korea’ on its cooling towers.
And although we didn’t win our lawsuit to stop two other nuclear reactors, Shin Kori 5 and 6, from being built we do recognize that it was an exceptional moment for people power and democracy in that the government handed the decision over to a Citizen Panel to decide.
Jung-geun Park / Greenpeace
Jung Taekyong / Greenpeace
Pinocchio confronts coal
Pinocchio’s nose grows when he tells a lie, but Greenpeace's Pinocchio has a real problem breathing? Not only because coal companies lie about their energy being clean, but because of the air pollution they are pumping out. In September, our Pinocchios protested in Seoul, disclosing the following three biggest whoppers the coal companies were telling.
1 Not a single coal-powered facility can promise "zero emissions"
2 High efficiency boilers also emit air pollution and greenhouse gases
3 So-called carbon storage technology needs to burn even more coal
Everyone can be a hero!
The Korean government is ambitious – renewable energy currently makes up just 7% of the energy mix – that is set to triple to 20% in 12 years. Greenpeace is encouraging Koreans to become "energy citizens" – by installing solar panels on rooftops, investing in renewable energy, and pushing for public services such as schools and parking to use renewables. Still in doubt? Let the following three big numbers prove it!
22 Using currently available technology, Korea can increase its renewable uptake 22 times its current generation capacity.
280 trillion: In 2016, the world invested 280 trillion Korean won in renewable energy – double that of fossil fuels and 8 times that of nuclear energy.
50 million: 50 million people worldwide have installed, used and sold all kinds of renewable energy safely and conveniently.
Time’s up for Old King Coal
Daniel Müller / Greenpeace
2017 was the year we really RESISTED, and that’s partly because of US President Donald Trump. Trump said he would bring coal back to life and withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. The climate is global and so are we. So here in East Asia we really stepped up our climate actions.
Just like what Greenpeace East Asia Energy Analyst Lauri Myllyvirta said: “What we are witnessing now is the beginning of a major overhaul of our energy system – one that can address climate change and air pollution.” Coal is on the way out. There is no future in fossil fuels.
Six signs coal is finished
──Source: Joint research from CoalSwarm and Greenpeace
5 years: Worldwide, deployment of renewable power capacity has exceeded new coal power capacity with the gap widening for past 5 years.
Indonesia: Indonesia, the third largest builder of coal power plants, said it wouldn’t start more coal projects for its main grid.
#Resist: In 2017, the US decided to shut down 14 coal power plants and that’s even under Trump administration!
6 UKs: Since 2010, of 1,675 companies globally that owned coal-fired power plants or engaged in coal-fired power capacity, over a quarter have quit coal completely – that’s enough to power around six United Kingdoms.
23: By 2030, 23 countries, states and cities will have either phased out coal-fired power plants or set a timeline to do so. Before 2014, no major jurisdiction had completely phased out coal. How things have changed!
Coal-free capitals: India and China have implemented policies to cut down on the number of new coal power stations, with both New Delhi and Beijing aiming to becoming coal-free capitals.
4 tactics to a successful coal campaign in China
Put the pressure on air quality:
What's more important than the air we breathe? Greenpeace continued to publish PM2.5 air pollution data on China's 366 major cities and alerted the public when average PM2.5 levels did not improve over the previous year. We’ve also continued to work with scientists from Tsinghua University to study how rapid urbanization has led to worsening air pollution and its health impacts.
Focus on scarce water resources:
In July, we released a report on China’s coal power overcapacity and how it was draining already drought-prone areas. If China ditched this unneeded energy, it could save enough water to cover the yearly basic needs of 27 million people. Industry specialists and provincial regulators welcomed our report and we’ve seen a significant drop in investment in new coal.
Keep an eye on the money:
Our East Asia office is primed to spot investments into coal, in particular China’s investment on coal and energy overseas and the energy-related development of the Belt and Road initiative. We are pushing China’s green bond standards to meet international ones – while they are funding five coal power projects and one coal chemicals project, the latter one alone would emit 1.9 million tons of CO2 per year.
Last June, to much international disgust, Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. And thus we are pushing for China to become a climate leader – in October the Chinese leadership made positive statements on global cooperation for the climate. We attended COP23 in Bonn and urged all countries, including France, Germany and China to "step up and display the leadership they claim to stake."
Yat Yin / Greenpeace
James Alcock / Greenpeace
Maria Feck / Greenpeace
From polar bears to penguins!
Christian Åslund / Greenpeace
The polar regions are home to incredible wildlife and they also exert a huge influence on our climate. In turn, they are threatened by humankind’s excessive desires. That’s why you and Greenpeace are willing to go to the ends of the earth for the ends of the earth!
The People vs. Big Oil
Like many other nations, Norway signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement, pledging to do its bit to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. How then can it issue 13 new oil licenses in the Arctic’s Barents Sea?
Last year, Greenpeace and local NGO Nature and Youth sued the Norwegian government for contravening the Paris Accord and violating the right of Norwegians to “a safe and healthy environment”. Although the court found in the government’s favour, this was valuable experience for future legal battles we will fight and win.
And we had won! By the end of November, the EU and nine of the world’s biggest fishing nations – including China, Japan and Korea – agreed not to fish an area the size of the Mediterranean in the Arctic Ocean for 16 years – Thanks to the millions of voices supporting our Save The Arctic campaign!
Gordon Welters / Greenpeace
Will Rose / Greenpeace
Will Rose / Greenpeace
License to krill
Krill, tiny crustaceans and the beloved food of penguins and whales, is also popular with commercial fishing fleets and they are decimating stocks – ten of thousands of tons can be harvested in a single fishing season in the Antarctic, for use in health food supplements and feeding farmed fish.
What’s needed is an ocean sanctuary where krill fishing could be barred to help protect animals that depend on krill, as they also try to cope with climate change. 2016, Greenpeace won an amazing battle to get the Ross Sea designated a protected marine reserve. Do you remember?
We are looking to make the largest protected area on earth: a 1.8 million km2 ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea. The proposal will be considered in October this year by the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR). Join your voice to this campaign!
Christian Åslund / Greenpeace
Christian Åslund / Greenpeace
Andrea Izzotti / Thinkstock
Make a Wish.
Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace
There is only one earth and we all share it. Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, toured Africa last year, to build understanding between nations about the importance of protecting our common resources, whether that’s forests or whether that’s fish.
Hope in West Africa
The waters of West Africa are rich in marine life, but the UN Food and Agricultural Organization has warned that overfishing here is the most serious anywhere in the world. Commercial fleets catch some of Hong Kong’s favourites – sardines and grouper.
The Esperanza set sail last year for six countries in West Africa. It exposed 17 incidents of illegal fishing in a joint operation with local fisheries. The ships, from China and Europe, were suspected of using illegal fishing nets and catching banned species.
We followed up with a report, The Cost of Ocean Destruction, which described how local communities are suffering from this plunder, as all 17 vessels are still licensed to fish six months later. Governments and foreign fishing nations must work together – to better regulate their waters and establish blacklists of companies that illegally harvest the seas.
Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace
Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace
Lu Guang / Greenpeace
Let’s dance for the Congo
Illegal logging is stripping the Congo Rainforest – the world's second largest. Demand for rosewood in China is adding to the pressure. What can we do to protect the lungs of Africa?
Between October and November last year, the Esperanza sailed through central Africa in a call to save this remarkable forest, which helps stabilize the world's climate and is home to species such as the forest elephant and the gorilla. We teamed up with scientists and found deep peatlands in the DRC that are storing about 30 billion tonnes of carbon – if drained or burned they would release the equivalent of three years of global fossil fuel emissions at today's rates.
We also ran online campaigns such as the Wish Tree and Dance for the Congo, harnessing people power all over Africa. Through words and dance, everyone expressed their love for the forest.
∞ Keeping the faith
Thank you for being the driving force behind our environmental work. To say thank you, six of our staff want to share with you some of their inspiring stories from behind the scenes.
I can’t wait to share something with you. Last year we were shooting video to promote a plastic- free life. You know more than 1,000 films are made every year in Taiwan. The production crew needs to eat and drink and a lot of this is packed in disposable plastic. You can imagine the mountain of plastic waste that is generated for each film.
So, we asked staff to ensure no food or drink for our team was packaged in single-use plastic. We were a bit concerned about not respecting local habits, but we wanted to walk the talk. But when they saw the lunch boxes, they were so excited because they hadn’t used steel lunchboxes for many years. They said they’d continue to use the boxes in the future. For me, I’m happy that we may have changed the habits of some of Taiwan’s film production teams!
I believe in the saying that 'if you want to change others, you must first change yourself.'
Last year, the Feel More project team held a series of events, hoping to inspire people to get creative and transform old stuff into something new. I’m not good at making things, but apart from doing a lot of the organizing, I also tried making a kitten badge – It took me five hours to finish it. What do you think?
Maybe it’s not that beautiful but the satisfaction from making something was priceless. Now I wear the embroidered kitten badge on the purple bag I use everyday and every time I see it, I feel really good.
— Walton Li, Campaigner from the Feel More Project Team
Last year we collected data on the surface water quality of rivers from 31 province-level environmental protection bureaus in China for 2011-2015. What did we find out? Almost half of them did not meet improvement targets. And so we sent our report to those 15 provinces.
We waited anxiously for one week and then started receiving feedback via phone or letter. Some of them provided us with more detailed data on river and lake quality; others said they accepted our recommendations; and some of them even invited us to meetings. The fact that we got such a good response shows that good scientific research can push governments to take action for the environment.
When we launched our Detox the Outdoors campaign in 2015, we found ourselves in a dilemma - the waterproof jackets worn by our street fundraising teams were not PFC free.
That’s not acceptable and so we got together with the German office and spent six months hunting down suppliers and fabrics that were totally PFC free. We tested them to see if our standards were met and bought them for our Greenpeace offices.
We had to wait two and a half years until they finally arrived at our offices in Hong Kong at the end of last year! This doesn’t only represent our pledge to the environment but also represents that solutions do exist, we only need to keep our resolve.
— Pinky Tse, Regional Coordinator of Fundraising & Engagement Department
Our roots are in the rainforest. That’s what I realized when I took part in our rainforest campaign in Indonesia last year to help push banks to stop funding deforestation. One of Greenpeace's core values is bearing witness, so, last summer, I decided to take a holiday in Tanjung Puting National Park in central Kalimantan which has been badly hit by illegal logging.
During my trip I visited a centre that rescues orphaned or injured orangutans and rehabilitates them before they release them back into the national park.
You don't have to do the same thing as me and travel to Indonesia – just become aware of what is happening and the threats – that's the first step to change.
In our search for food safety we created our very own coalition! Our Food & Agriculture team has started a completely new way of campaigning in China, called Food Camp, China’s first ecological agricultural coalition.
Although the eco-farming sector has only taken baby steps so far, some conscientious farmers are sticking with it and are growing good, healthy and environmentally friendly crops. And so we are linking eco farmers to essential resources and making it cheaper and easier for them to farm successfully and environmentally.
Not only do we uncover food safety issues at Greenpeace – such as pesticide residues on food in our supermarkets – but we’ve pledged to put everything into helping China's agriculture move to an ecological model.