Our history

Page - August 20, 2010
The Greenpeace story begins 39 years ago – in 1971. A group of concerned citizens were outraged by the US government’s insistence on nuclear testing on the Alaskan island of Amchitka. These pioneering environmentalists sprang into action, spreading the word about the government’s plans. Joan Baez, the iconic folk singer, hosted the Amchitka concert in Vancouver, Canada and released an album.

Crew of PHYLLIS CORMACK. First Greenpeace trip to Amchitka Island to protest USA nuclear testing.

From the money raised, a ship was chartered and set sail for Amchitka to force the US to stop its nuclear testing in the region.

Amchitka, an uninhabited island, was the last home of the endangered sea otter and a safe home for bald eagles and peregrine falcons. It was also tectonically unstable. The activists were scared that the nuclear tests would cause a tsunami and destroy the entire island.

Called the ‘’Don’t make a wave committee”, the group was stopped by the US Navy from actually landing on Amchitka, but by the time they’d returned to Canada, the entire world knew what they’d tried to do against the mightiest superpower in the world. And so Greenpeace was born.

By the end of the year, the US had banned nuclear testing on Amchitka, and the island was declared a bird sanctuary.

Today Greenpeace operates in 40 countries, funded by donations from 3 million supporters. It is headquartered in Amsterdam, from where it coordinates its efforts to save the world for future generations.

Four decades of Greenpeace saving the world

The US abandons its nuclear testing programme at Amchitka
1975 France ends atmospheric nuclear tests in the South Pacific
1978 Scotland’s Orkney Islands stop grey seal slaughter
1982 European Union bans seal pup pelt imports
1982 International Whaling Commission imposes a whaling moratorium
1983 London Dumping Convention calls for a moratorium on dumping of nuclear waste at sea
1985 French blow up Rainbow Warrior after Greenpeace exposes Pacific nuclear testing
1988 London Dumping Convention bans all dumping of organochlorine waste at sea
1989 UN imposes moratorium on large-scale driftnets at sea
1991 World bans mining on Antarctica for 50 years
1992 World ban on driftnets
1993 London Dumping Convention bans all dumping of radioactive and industrial waste at sea
1994 Basel Convention bans trade in toxic waste between countries
1995 Shell UK changes its decision to dump its Brent Spar oil rig in the Atlantic
1996 UN bans nuclear testing
1997 World adopts Kyoto protocol, binding industrial nations to reducing greenhouse gases
1998 EU agrees to phase out driftnet fishing by 2001
1999 International Law of the Sea Tribunal orders Japan to stop fishing Southern Bluefin Tuna
2000 Large numbers of European retailers, food producers and multinational companies guarantee that their products are free of genetically modified ingredients
2001 World agrees to outlaw pirate fishermen and fight them
2002 Japan loses bid to overturn 1982 ban on commercial whaling
2003 Eco-corridor of 3.6 million hectares of riverine land on the Amazon finally protected
2004 Russia ratifies Kyoto protocol
2005 Sony Ericsson begins phasing out harmful chemicals from its products
2006 Estonia investigates Probo Koala after it dumped toxic waste off Ivory Coast poisoning thousands of people and killing eight
2007 World Bank’s private lending arm, International Finance Corporation, sells off its stake in Olam International which was involved in illegal timber felling in the Democratic Republic of Congo
2008 Argentinean government bans incandescent light bulbs

See all of our victories