Key Cases

Background - 1 April, 2016
Most of Greenpeace’s campaigns are either about creating or upholding laws. At many moments in our history, cases brought by us or against us have formed movements, secured campaign wins and defended democratic space. We have challenged governments and corporations and have helped shape the law to protect the Planet. Below is a tiny selection.

1987: An international tribunal orders France to pay Greenpeace International USD 8.6 million in damages for the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior two years earlier.

1999: Following a judicial review by GPUK the High Court rules that the Habitats Directive applies to the 200 NM Exclusive Economic Zone - a landmark case in environmental law.

2004: 'Miami' - Greenpeace US successfully defends itself against sailor mongering charges, using a human rights defence and building a broad alliance with civil society.

2006: Following protests and legal actions in various countries the French President Chirac is forced to call back the asbestos-laden warship Clemenceau from its destined scrapping in India, laying the basis for shipbreaking regulation at ILO, IMO and Basel Convention.

2007: In a case brought by GPUS and various US States, the US Supreme Court holds that 'the harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized' and orders the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases.

2008: Esso and Areva challenge Greenpeace's famous logo parodies - and lose. In a landmark ruling, the French Supreme Court holds they were covered by free speech.

2008: The Kingsnorth 6 protesters were acquitted after experts like Jim Hansen testified that there was a necessity to act against the threat of climate change - a 'lawful excuse'.

2009: Following a seven-year lawsuit by GPUS, Friends of the Earth and four US cities, federal investment and insurance agencies Ex-Im and OPIC agree to start assessing climate impacts before financing overseas energy projects.

2010: GP Japan emerges stronger after the government seek to shut down the office and jail the Tokyo 2. Their case attracts global support and, with help from international experts and NGOs, using legal counter strategies, the trial lays bare corruption in the whaling industry.

2010: Greenpeace International teams up with WWF to submit the first-ever amicus curiae brief before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, in Case No. 17 concerning activities in the International Seabed Area.

2011: With the help of GPI, GP Czech Republic and GP Australia Pacific, Micronesia brings an iconic legal challenge against the life extension of the biggest coal fired power plant in the Czech Republic based on climate change impacts.

2012: GP Poland and Banktrack repel a legal threat from coal company ZE PAK following their briefing of investors and analysts about risks of participating in the company's initial public offering which resulted in a lower price, demonstrating the impact of financial campaigning.

2012: A Dutch court rules that GP Netherlands' non-violent direct actions against Shell were legitimate and recognises principles of civil disobedience as a valid legal defence.

2013: Recognising the right to a healthy environment, a Philippines Court of Appeal orders the government to stop field trials of BT Brinjal (genetically modified eggplant) and restore the environment to its original state in a case brought by Greenpeace SEA.

2013: GP Japan tables a shareholder resolution at Tepco's AGM to investigate liability of General Electric, the supplier of Fukushima's flawed reactors. Tepco agrees to investigate and GE admits to changing the reactors.

2013: GP Slovakia obtains a Supreme Court order to halt to the construction of a nuclear power plant due to the authorities' failure to involve the public. The fight continues…

2015: An arbitral tribunal constituted under Annex VII the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea rules that the seizure of the Arctic Sunrise and the detention of her crew by Russian agents violated international law. It affirms the right to protest at sea.