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Fall 2020

The Choice is Yours

A Magazine By

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From the Executive Director

Photo of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

This year has challenged us as a society. At Greenpeace, we have seen our campaigners and supporters work harder than ever before to take on the most urgent fights during this pandemic, all while making sure we don’t lose ground for the big campaigns ahead.

Although the pandemic required the UN meeting to be postponed, we aren’t letting up in our advocacy to pass a Global Ocean Treaty. It will be the largest conservation agreement in history to create a network of ocean sanctuaries that will give penguins, whales, and other threatened marine life the protected space to recover and adapt to a rapidly changing world.

We’re also working hard to strengthen our democracy in the upcoming election. Greenpeace is campaigning to expand vote-by-mail while fighting back exploitative voter suppression. The cornerstone of our democracy is at risk if COVID-19 keeps people from the polls and the time to act is now.

Greenpeace is coalition building and campaigning to hold corporations accountable and tackle the plastic pollution crisis and we blew the whistle on the plastics industry’s attempt to cash in on the public health crisis. We must transition to a circular reuse and refill economy that puts people and the planet first.

And as a top priority, we’re fighting for an economic recovery that supports people and lays the foundation for a future beyond fossil fuels—otherwise, we’ll end up right back where we were before this crisis. We need a Green New Deal to help fund a just transition that doesn’t leave anybody behind.

The pandemic shifted how we campaign, but it didn’t change how we amplify people power to win big for the planet and humanity. Thank you for being at our side every step of the way!

For a green and peaceful future,

Signature of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Greenpeace USA

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The Escalating War on the Environment So Polluters Can Profit

By Janet Redman

By executive order, government agencies have been instructed to bypass environmental regulations and speed up fossil fuel projects like mines and pipelines. The order will allow White House officials to circumvent bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and all but eliminate public participation in decisions affecting communities near infrastructure projects.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the rule rolling back fuel economy and emission standards for cars, which will allow nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide to be released. And the agency also issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, and it won’t pursue penalties if power plants, factories, manufacturing plants, and other companies exceed pollution limits. It’s an open license to pollute and the impact on our communities and the climate could be unimaginable.

Polaroid image featuring a "Shut It Down. Quit Coal" banner.

This anti-environment agenda is a racist agenda. We are in the middle of a pandemic that has disproportionately killed Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in this country. We are fighting against extractive industries that have wrecked our climate while treating working-class communities of color as sacrifice zones for decades. These actions are more manifestations of the white supremacy that has driven this administration’s policymaking from day one, and it will have deadly consequences. Lives are being put at stake just so polluters can profit.

Repeated attempts to gut public health and environmental regulations have nothing to do with jumpstarting the economy. In fact, they go back well before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since taking office, the administration has tried to weaken or repeal more than 100 policies designed to protect people from pollution, ensure access to clean air and water, and give communities a voice in decisions that impact their environmental health. We will not allow fossil fuel executives to hide under the cover of a pandemic while they enact their polluting agenda.

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Our house is on fire. Join us online!

While we are social distancing, Fire Drill Fridays are still going strong. The first Friday of every month we sound the alarm and bring the climate emergency to the axis of power. Join us by texting JANE to 877-877 and we’ll send you weekly links to connect live with Jane and others every Friday as we continue to build a mass movement demanding climate justice. Check out for more information.

Learn more at

Janet Redman

Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director

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© Les Stone / Greenpeace

Ocean Exploitation on the Rise

By Arlo Hemphill

Due to the decrease in monitoring, less law enforcement, and fewer regulators on vessels since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen a sharp uptick in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Greenpeace and our partners are using satellite technology and taking reports from all over the world about what fishing activity people are observing. In one report, we heard that there were so many vessels fishing illegally off the coast of Argentina that the ocean looked like a city lit up at night, for example.

And it’s happening in the United States as well, since the fishing lobby kicked observers off of many vessels under the guise of preventing virus transmission. Typically there are monitors on board commercial fishing vessels to inspect the catch, verify what’s caught, and keep an eye out for endangered species.

Two images in faux-polaroid frames. The first depicts a Greenpeace ship. The second shows an activist holding a sign that says "Illegal" in front of a fishing vessel.

It’s not only IUU fishing that’s concerning, however. In recent years, investigations have revealed shocking cases of human rights abuses in fisheries, including forced labor and human trafficking, and identified Taiwanese vessels and companies among the worst offenders. In 2019 Greenpeace East Asia conducted an investigation and found that violations of international human rights and labor laws remain commonplace in Taiwan’s distant water fishing fleet, where more than 20,000 Southeast Asian migrant workers are employed.

Since the pandemic began, Greenpeace has been hearing harrowing stories of slavery at sea and many reports that it’s getting worse due to the lack of labor inspections. We’re hearing that workers are being forced to spend longer stretches of time at sea because vessels are staying out longer, workers are forced to keep working even when they are ill, and if they are too sick and can no longer work they are thrown overboard as waste.

Monitoring to stop these human rights abuses has largely gone virtual. Yet Greenpeace East Asia and Greenpeace Southeast Asia are still actively investigating and working with labor and human rights allies to assist abused workers, and Greenpeace USA is supporting their efforts.

We’re also keeping a close eye on what’s happening with the administration’s rush to remove and revoke environmental protections while the world’s focus is on the pandemic. During a trip to Maine in early June, for example, the president lifted the prohibition on commercial fishing in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The first and only national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean was designated a protected area for good reason, and Greenpeace is calling for the ban on commercial fishing to be re-imposed.

Read Greenpeace East Asia’s report, Choppy Waters: Forced Labour and Illegal Fishing in Taiwan’s Distant Fisheries, at

Arlo Hemphill

Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Campaigner

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© Alex Hofford / Greenpeace

Environmental Justice and Racial Justice Are Fundamentally Linked

By Folabi Olagbaju

As an organization founded to promote peace, non-violence, and justice, we have a responsibility to take action against systemic racism. Our society is structured to benefit some people at the expense of others. These systems, which rely on race, class, and gender injustices, also rely on the destruction of the environment.

Consider the climate crisis. Black and Brown communities have been living with the toxic legacy of the oil and gas industry for generations, only to see climate change begin to take away their homes and land. Indigenous communities have seen continued oppression unleashed on them through mining and extraction, and now many of them, too, are being hit by climate effects, from disappearing coastlines and wildlife, to disastrous wildfires and drought.

And poor families in so many cities and rural communities have been the historic targets of power companies, which have constructed their coal-fired power plants in low-income communities and communities of color. The health impacts of that history, from high rates of asthma and early mortality to mercury poisoning, are only being compounded by climate change.

As climate impacts continue to escalate, it will be these communities who take the brunt of the injury and pain. Climate change manifest the intersectionality of environmental crises and racism that has been clear to communities facing discrimination for decades.

And the crises keep piling up. Due to years of economic injustice and environmental racism—locating polluting power plants and freeways near marginalized communities, for example—Black people are now up to six times more likely to die from the coronavirus than white people.

In pushing back against the systems of racism and injustice, we are inevitably pushing against the structures that deplete and degrade the Earth’s natural resources. However, our commitment to racial justice goes deeper than what we stand against—it’s also about what we stand for. We stand for peace, and peace is only possible when the structures of our society do not inflict implicit and daily harm on people of color.

One of the most powerful forces blocking progress is silence. Greenpeace encourages our supporters to advocate, educate, and show up for social and racial justice. By speaking about these issues, encouraging people to explore interconnections between issues important to them, and being ready to respond constructively to those who resist change, we help create change.

Learn more at at

A group of people hold a banner with the words "Freedom Day March, Juneteenth 2020" painted on it as they march down a street.

Folabi Olagbaju

Greenpeace USA Democracy Campaign Director

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© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

The Destruction of the Amazon Rainforest Threatens Us All

By Daniel Brindis

We are on track to end 2020 with a record year for deforestation and fires in the Brazilian Amazon. This June, there was a 19.57 percent increase in fire hotspots compared to June 2019 and the largest recorded number for the month since 2007. Deforestation alerts also hit a 13-year record high during the same month.

This alarming trend unfortunately is very purposeful. A recording of an April 2020 Brazilian Cabinet meeting confirmed that government officials had aimed to exploit COVID-19 as a diversion for dismantling environmental protections, ushering in more deforestation. The Brazilian congress has been considering legislation. PL2633, often referred to as the “Land Grabber’s law,” would legalize illegally-‘grabbed’ public lands. FUNAI, the Brazilian agency for Indigenous Affairs, has stopped demarcating Indigenous Peoples’ lands and instead, made it possible to grant illegal land claims inside protected Indigenous Lands.

Scientists recognize Indigenous Peoples are the most effective guardians for the world’s forests and that upholding their rights is a critical solution to the dual climate and biodiversity crises.

This Spring, a new Greenpeace Brazil investigation revealed how the Brazilian government— and complicit international timber and meat markets—are accelerating the destruction of constitutionally-protected Indigenous Lands in the Amazon. Ituna Itatá, the area featured in the investigation, was the most deforested Indigenous land in Brazil last year in 2019. Despite its legal protection status dating back to 2011, 94 percent of the area has been claimed by cattle ranchers and the forests have been invaded by loggers and miners. Deforestation in Ituna Itatá amounted to a staggering 46.3 square miles between August 2018 and July 2019—the equivalent to 115,000 soccer fields and 30 percent of all of the deforestation that occurred within Brazilian Indigenous Lands in Brazil during that period.

Two images in faux-polaroid frames. The first shows a photo of a monkey. The second shows a photo of a leopard.

Companies complicit in the destruction of the forests for meat production, timber, or minerals are massively exacerbating the current and future crises we face, and Greenpeace is campaigning to expose them and hold them accountable.

The well-being of our planet depends on the urgent protection of the forests. The Bolsonaro government’s deadly attack on Indigenous People and the Amazon must be stopped. We need to avert the existential threat of deforestation pushing the Amazon past a tipping point in which it could fail as an ecosystem, disrupting the climate.


Daniel Brindis

Greenpeace USA Forests Campaign Director

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© Valdemir Cunha / Greenpeace

Victories for a Greener, More Peaceful Future

Google to Stop Building AI Tools for Oil and Gas Drillers

Following a Greenpeace USA report that documents how tech giants Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are using artificial intelligence and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world, Google announced that it will no longer build custom AI tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction. The report, Oil in the Cloud: How Tech Companies are Helping Big Oil Profit from Climate Destruction, exposes how Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies—including Shell, BP, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.

Teck Resources Pulls the Plug on Tar Sands Project

The company proposing to build the largest ever open pit mine in Alberta, Canada withdrew its application, a huge win for Indigenous rights, sovereignty, and the climate. The company explained its withdrawal citing public pressure and changing financial markets that are increasingly locking in a demand for serious climate policy. This victory would not have been possible without the leadership of Indigenous communities and the tens of thousands of Greenpeace Canada supporters across the country who took action.

Equinor Ditches Plan to Drill in the Great Australian Bight

In a momentous win for the Bight, First Nations people, and all Australians, Norwegian oil giant Equinor dropped its outrageous plan to drill for oil in
the Bight. Not only is it one of the world’s most important whale sanctuaries, home to more unique species than the Great Barrier Reef, but it houses an estimated 817 million tons of carbon that we simply cannot afford to burn if we’re to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

AP1 Divests from Fossil Fuels

The Swedish public pension fund, AP1, is ridding its portfolio of fossil fuel companies due to financial risks in coal, oil, and gas. It is the first Swedish public pension fund to do so. Greenpeace Sweden has been campaigning for fossil-free public pension funds for a few years and hopes this signals to other AP-funds and investors and capital managers at large that it’s time to leave the fossil era and invest our savings in sectors with the future ahead of them.

Please visit to stay up-to-date on Greenpeace news!

Activist stands in front of Amazon headquarters holding signs that say "Amazon: Protect Workers and Planet #NoTech4Oil".

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© Richard Robinson / Greenpeace

Widespread Disposables Would Spell Ecological Disaster

By Kate Melges

As cities, states, and countries began reopening restaurants and businesses, Greenpeace sounded the alarm on moving toward widespread disposables into the future. Across the U.S., governments and retailers have paused plastic bans and in some cases temporarily restricted reusables.

These pauses followed a significant PR push from the plastics industry, using industry-funded research to claim that reusables are more dangerous than disposables during the pandemic. Greenpeace urged companies and governments to allow customers to bag their own groceries in reusable bags or bring them out of the store in carts, as hand-to-hand contact and close proximity is the largest concern with COVID-19.

To require widespread single-use utensils, dishes, bags, and menus would be an ecological disaster leading to more plastic pollution, increased forest destruction, and worsened climate change. It would not protect workers or customers from contracting the virus, as close proximity and hand-to-surface contact would continue as workers remove and dispose of throwaway food ware. Increased disinfecting practices, dishwashing, and distancing have already been urged by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent the spread of the virus and should continue to help keep everyone safe.

In late June Greenpeace USA released a statement signed by more than 125 health experts—virologists, epidemiologists, emergency room doctors, and specialists in public health and food packaging safety—addressing the safety of reusable bags and containers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It assures retailers and consumers that plastic is not inherently safer than reusables, and reusable systems can be utilized safely by employing basic hygiene and creating contact-free options for customers’ personal bags and cups.

Unfortunately, the pandemic could spur more legislation prohibiting local governments from banning single-use plastics like the bill now moving through the Ohio state Senate. But in other states, we’re continuing to make progress on breaking free from plastic. Vermont’s ban on single-use plastic bags took effect in July and the ban on single-use plastic and paper bags is progressing in New Jersey. We can create a simpler life without endless waste. A life where people and the planet flourish.

Find out more at

Kate Melges

Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Plastics Campaigner

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© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

Create Your Legacy for the Earth

One of the most powerful ways to fight for our planet’s health for years to come is through a gift in your will. Greenpeace Fund has teamed up with FreeWill to give you a totally no-cost way to write your legally valid will. Whether or not you make a gift to Greenpeace, it’s important to have a will, and with this free tool you can prepare for your future while taking care of the people and causes you love.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about your will, this same free tool can help you document your wishes before you meet. You can get started today at—and it’s free to make changes anytime, so you can keep your will up-to-date!

Create Your Legacy for the Earth

The struggle to save our planet will continue long after we are gone. But that doesn’t mean that our voices become silent. By leaving a legacy to Greenpeace, you can continue to be an advocate for the planet that future generations will inherit. If you would like to know more about how you can remember Greenpeace in you estate plans, please contact Rogelio Ocampo.

(202) 319-2413 [email protected]

© Bernd Roemmelt / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Logo

Executive Director

Annie Leonard

Editorial Staff

Editor in Chief

Sara Rycroft

Development Editors

Corrine Barr

Elizabeth Bennett

Allison Gates

Rogelio Ocampo

Editorial Staff

Campaigns Editor

Rebecca Pons

Photo Editor

Tim Aubry

Legal Editor

Deepa Padmanabha


Jacob Hardbower
Blair Miltenberger

Visuals Intern

MaryFrances Vorbach

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