2013 has been an incredible year for Greenpeace. In February actress Lucy Lawless spoke publicly against shell after occupying an oil rig with Greenpeace activists. A forest conservation pilot project by Indonesia's largest palm oil producer was launched in March. Greenpeace planted a flag on the sea bed of the Arctic floor of the North Pole, calling for a global sanctuary. Certain traditional Chinese herbs were exposed to contain toxic chemicals in June. July saw a transport of fin whale meat turned around and sent back to Iceland. The Belgian Grand Prix was visited by our activists, and officials there found themselves the focus of a viral video.
And then, in September…
Twenty-eight activists, two freelance journalists – the now widely known 'Arctic 30' – detained at gunpoint, the Arctic Sunrise boarded, held in a Murmansk prison, charged with piracy and then hooliganism and recently sent to the notorious Kresty prison in St. Petersburg. Their story – our story – continues to this day.
It also continues in Warsaw, at the UN climate negotiations, where diplomacy and political savvy are being used to raise awareness of the global need to protect the Arctic from climate change and international action is needed to a avoid climate catastrophes. It is also where we stood with other activists from around the world to honour the Arctic 30 as brave climate defenders. The Arctic 30 acted on climate change, so we are inspired by them as we continue to pressure governments to cut emissions now, and to commit to phasing out fossil fuels by 2050.
In terms of the Arctic 30, the support here, at the COP19, has been a microcosm of the 2-million-and-growing global call to free our wrongfully detained friends, colleagues and heroes. These millions are the same people that expect decision-makers to show as much courage as the Arctic 30 in demanding a safe future. The recognition of our work, from diplomats to academics, scientists and legal experts, to leading NGOs and smaller grass-roots organisations has been profoundly humbling.
The support comes in many forms; signing our petitions, relaying our messages to the world, or simply writing a personal letter of concern about the condition of our planet – a trust that we can work together to try to fix things. It is pictures drawn by a primary school class, to Nobel Laureates standing behind us.
Yesterday, it was an award, graciously given to us by RTCC, Responding to Climate Change, a site devoted to news and analysis "focused on providing the latest updates and insights into global low carbon developments."
Daniel Mittler, the Political Director of Greenpeace International, saw the award as a clarion call to surge forward with the message of the Arctic 30. He said, "Greenpeace is changing and is building people-power against fossil fuels all over the world. We are delighted to be given an award recognizing our campaigning in 2013, especially as we are facing the strongest attack against the peaceful protest since the French secret service bombed the Rainbow Warrior in 1985. We will take this award as encouragement to the Arctic 30 and the sustenance that all of us need to keep moving, to keep striding forward towards a just and sustainable world."
There remain challenges, systemic and endemic, that require a fundamental change in the way people think – the way they think about fuel consumption, the way they think about the oceans, forests. The way we think about where our food comes from and what we wear. And, right now, the way we think about activism.
The year is not over yet. Come join us.
Arin de Hoog is a Media Relations Specialist with Greenpeace International