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Fall 2021

50th Anniversary 1971-2021

A Magazine By

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From the Executive Director

Photo of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Over the last 50 years our movement has grown far beyond the  wildest imaginations of those first Greenpeacers who set sail to stop a nuclear bomb. Today there are millions of Greenpeace activists, organizers, researchers, investigators, issue experts, volunteers, and supporters taking action together to change the world.

And we have. It’s fitting that as we celebrate Greenpeace’s 50th Anniversary this is also the year we mark a major milestone in the long march toward peace—the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force in 2021.

Together we’ve helped save whales, protected seas from dumping of toxics, curbed deep sea bottom trawling, blocked fossil fuel pipelines and projects,  conserved the Great Bear Rainforest, defended the Amazon Reef and the Great Australian Bight, and kept Shell from drilling in the Arctic. And so much more.

We’ve literally gone to the ends of the Earth to protect the planet. Intrepid Greenpeacers set up camp in Antarctica and stayed for four years just to get a seat at the bargaining table of Antarctic Treaty Nations, then proceeded to convince global leaders to believe in the dream of having Antarctica protected as a World Park.

Our people power has held huge corporations accountable, and pushed them to do better, be greener, and stop getting in the way of a sustainable, climate-safe future. We’ve gotten big brands to stop doing business with forest destroyers and dirty oil drillers. And our campaign for a plastic-free future is convincing companies to quit pushing single-use plastics and transition to reuse and refill systems that won’t trash the planet for a lifetime and beyond.

Since Greenpeace’s founding in 1971, our fight to save the planet has grown more serious — the impacts of climate breakdown, the destruction of ancient forests, the deterioration of our oceans, and the threats to democracy and our right to dissent loom large. But we’re ready.

With 50 years of experience making possible the seemingly impossible, Greenpeace is built for moments like this and we’re going all-in. It’s thanks to you that we can, and we’re grateful you’re with us for what comes next in our unfolding story.

For a green and peaceful future,

Signature of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Greenpeace USA

Our Mission

Greenpeace, Inc. is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Please visit to learn more about Greenpeace, Inc., and to learn more about Greenpeace Fund, Inc.

This update is intended to provide a comprehensive summary of all Greenpeace campaign activities. Please note that all donations to Greenpeace Fund, Inc. were solely used in connection with 501(c)(3) permissible activities. ISSN: 8899- 0190. Unless otherwise noted, all contents are © Greenpeace, Inc.

© Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

Driving Global Change

September 1987

The Montreal Protocol is signed, an international treaty to heal the ozone layer by controlling ozone depleting substances.

October 1991

The 39 Antarctic Treaty signatories agree to a 50-year minimum prohibition of all mineral exploitation, in effect preserving the continent for peaceful, scientific purposes.

December 1995

Following a submission made with Greenpeace support, UNESCO designates Russia’s Komi Forest as a World Heritage Site.

September 1997

Greenpeace collects the UNEP Ozone Award for the development of “GreenFreeze” in 1993, an HFC-free domestic refrigerator safe for both the ozone layer and the climate.

December 1997

After campaigning for urgent action to protect the climate since 1988 by Greenpeace and others, the Kyoto Protocol is adopted to set legally-binding reduction targets on greenhouse gases.

May 2001

A UN Treaty banning a group of highly toxic Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is adopted after years of negotiations and pressure from Greenpeace.

October 2004

A decade of campaigning by Greenpeace and others comes to fruition as Russia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, bringing to force the world’s sole global effort to address the dangers of climate breakdown.

January 2015

UN member states agree to form a treaty to protect marine biodiversity in ocean areas extending beyond territorial waters, after years of campaigning.



We expect negotiations to begin on a UN Global Plastics Treaty, the first-of-its-kind international effort that will be a game-changer in breaking free from the plastic pollution that is doing irreversible harm to our oceans and animals like whales, dolphins, and turtles.


World governments agree on a UN Global Ocean Treaty after a multi-year Greenpeace campaign calling upon all governments and leaders to act together to create a network of ocean sanctuaries across our blue planet, encompassing at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 as recommended by scientific advice.

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© Víctor Ceballos / Greenpeace

History in the Making


In May, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It’s the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris climate agreement. Shell is one of the 10 most climate polluting companies in the world. This verdict means that Shell now has to radically change course, as this limit is essential to minimize the risks of irreversible and catastrophic climate change. The case was brought by Greenpeace Netherlands and others.

This verdict is a historic victory for the climate and everyone facing the consequences of the climate crisis. The court confirmed that the fossil fuel industry can be forced to reduce their outsized contribution to the climate crisis under Dutch law.


After consulting with Greenpeace USA and our allies for more than a year, Congress recently unveiled bipartisan legislation to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) and forced labor.  Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced the Illegal Fishing and  Forced Labor Prevention Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, the bill would expand the authority of the United States government, giving it new power in the fight against IUU fishing,  forced labor, and other human rights abuses connected to the commercial fishing sector.

IUU fishing is a top contributor to the loss of marine biodiversity and the depletion of the world’s fisheries, and is connected to human rights abuses of people around the globe. This bill could  stop all illegally caught seafood, including forced labor-produced seafood, from being sold to U.S. consumers.

The Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act recognizes that illegal fishing and labor rights abuse are interconnected and provides critical, tailored solutions that address both. This bill could significantly improve conditions for fishers by placing pressure on seafood companies and fishing nations to meet higher labor and environmental standards in order to access the U.S. market. It could also change the policies and practices of U.S. brands and retailers that have profited from human rights and environmental abuse for far too long.

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© Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace

The Power of Peaceful Protest

Greenpeace uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

As we celebrate 50 years of our signature strategies to create the change we seek, we remember a few of our more playful — and effective — campaigns and actions.

Barbie, It’s Over

Using a combination of research and forensic testing, Greenpeace investigators showed that packaging for the Mattel toys was being boxed and packaged in paper made from the rainforests of Indonesia, home to endangered species like the Sumatran tiger.

Greenpeace activists dressed as “Ken” dolls abseiled down Mattel’s headquarters in Los Angeles in June 2011, hanging a giant banner which read “Barbie: It’s Over. I don’t date girls that are into deforestation. Meanwhile “Barbie” drove a pink bulldozer down below, refusing to kick her forest-destroying habit.

A few months later Mattel announced that it would stop buying paper and packaging linked to rainforest destruction. As part of its new commitments, Mattel is instructing its suppliers to avoid wood fiber from companies “that are known to be involved in deforestation.” One such company was Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which Greenpeace investigators had shown to be involved in widespread rainforest clearance in Indonesia.

VW: the Dark Side

For two years VW refused to back a key European law that would make cars more efficient and help reduce our dependence on oil. VW was a major obstacle against strong targets. As the biggest and most powerful car company in Europe, they used their might to lobby politicians and block progress.

So in response to a successful Volkswagen commercial campaign featuring a small Darth Vader, Greenpeace made a couple of Star Wars-themed videos of our own. And after more than half a million people stood against them, our parody of their Star Wars ad went viral across the internet, thousands of activists dressed as stormtroopers protested at their dealerships and on the streets, and non-violent direct actions at car shows across Europe, VW caved to pressure from across the globe and announced it will meet and support climate targets.

LEGO Gets Awesome to #SaveTheArctic

For several years Shell used LEGO’s brand to clean up its image as an Arctic oil driller. Some 16 million Shell-branded LEGO sets were sold or given away at gas stations in 26 countries.

In 2014 Greenpeace launched a campaign which included the most viral video in our history (so far!). It involved a hot tub, a Game of Thrones character, a very sad polar bear, and the most depressing version of the most upbeat song you’ve ever heard, “Everything is Awesome.” With massive media attention and almost six million views, the video was briefly taken down from YouTube due to a copyright claim, but was reposted after 18 hours of massive public outcry.

Children played to protest — LEGOs youngest fans took matters into their own hands – literally. Dozens of children built giant Arctic animals out of LEGO on the doorstep of Shell’s London HQ, in playful protest of their favorite toys partnership with the oil company planning to drill the Arctic.

And our LEGOlution went global. From Hong Kong to Paris to Buenos Aires, miniature LEGO people held small but furious protests against their LEGO bosses’ partnership with Shell. Many recreated famous protests at international landmarks, and the LEGOlution soon spread across the world. Tiny LEGO climbers also held a daring protest at a Shell gas station in Legoland in Billund, Denmark.

More than one million people worldwide petitioned LEGO to ask it to end its inappropriate deal with Shell, showing the incredible strength and unstoppable power of our global movement. Here in the U.S., supporters signed petitions, made their own LEGO protest signs, and showed up in LEGO costumes at the flagship store in New York City.

It all paid off when following our intensive three-month campaign, LEGO announced it would not renew its contract with Arctic destroyer Shell. It was fantastic news for LEGO fans and Arctic defenders everywhere. And it was a huge blow to Shell’s strategy of partnering with beloved brands to clean up its dirty image as an Arctic oil driller.

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© Elizabeth Dalziel / Greenpeace

Waves of Compassion

“Operation Exodus”

In 1985, the residents of Rongelap in the Marshall Islands asked Greenpeace International to help them relocate to a new home. Their island had been contaminated by radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific.

On March 1, 1954, the United States detonated a hydrogen bomb, code named “Castle Bravo.” At 15 megatons Castle Bravo was a thousand times more powerful than “Little Boy,” the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and after the explosion there was a marked increase in the level of background radiation measured around the globe.

The inhabitants of Bikini and Enewetak were evacuated from their island homes prior to the nuclear tests to avoid exposure to radioactive fallout. But the inhabitants of Rongelap 150 kilometers away were not. Within four hours of the explosion, fallout from Castle Bravo was settling on the island. A fine white ash landed on the heads and bare arms of people standing in the open. It dissolved into water supplies and drifted into houses.

Although U.S. authorities knew of the fallout pattern and the strong winds that had been blowing towards Rongelap on the day of the test, they made no attempt to evacuate the Islanders for more than 48 hours. The Rongelap people were returned to their island in 1957, in spite of the fact that it had been continually dosed with fallout from nuclear tests during their absence and no “cleanup” of radiation was ever conducted.

The Islanders’ frequent pleas to the U.S. government to be evacuated fell on deaf ears. So at the request of Rongelap’s representative to the Marshall Islands parliament, Greenpeace agreed to take on the task of evacuating the entire population to the safer island of Mejato 180 kilometers away.

“Operation Exodus” was a major departure for Greenpeace. This was not a traditional Greenpeace style protest, there were no inflatables or banners to hang, there was just the logistical challenge of moving an entire population 180 kilometers in the Pacific.

When the Rainbow Warrior arrived at the seemingly idyllic tropical island on the 17th of May in 1985, local women sailed out to greet the crew singing Marshallese songs. Other Rongelapese waiting on the beach held up banners that read, “We love the future of our kids.”

With all they had heard and read about Rongelap, it was an overwhelming experience for the crew of the Rainbow Warrior —the realization that these people who had been living here for thousands of years would probably never see their homes again. For the next few days the Greenpeace crew and the islanders worked together to dismantle the houses and ferry the materials to the Warrior.

The ten-day evacuation required three trips between the islands and, in all, 300 Islanders and over 100 tons of building materials were relocated. When it was time to leave, most of the crew were devastated. Their experience at Rongelap brought home to them the consequences of nuclear testing on these isolated Pacific communities and stirred up powerful emotions.

A Just Recovery in Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of deadly Category 5 Hurricane Maria in September 2017, Donald Trump’s response was to launch rolls of paper towels into a crowd of Puerto Rican survivors, deny that his administration’s disaster response efforts were a slow and incompetent fiasco, and complain about spending money on the U.S. Territory’s residents in need of relief.

While images of Trump’s tossing went viral and were turned into internet memes, Greenpeace’s ship the Arctic Sunrise prepared to sail from Miami to San Juan to support “Our Power Puerto Rico, ” a national campaign started by Climate Justice Alliance (CJA). We went to support rural communities on the island as they push for a Just Recovery following Hurricane Maria.

After gathering supplies to help hundreds of farming communities recover from Hurricane Maria in a way that leaves them more empowered, resilient, and sustainable in the years to come, the campaign sent shipping containers full of solar batteries, tools and supplies for agroecology, water filtration systems, and more to Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the Jones Act prevented us from bringing these supplies onto the Arctic Sunrise, but it could not prevent the activist brigade from reaching San Juan on board the ship. Greenpeace was happy to play a part on board the Arctic Sunrise and work alongside local organizations to set up distribution plans for future supply deliveries and engage in dialogue about what their medium and long-term vision is for a Just Recovery in their communities.

Wings of Emergency

For eighteen months, Greenpeace Brazil and other organizations have been providing humanitarian aid to communities in vulnerable conditions. President Bolsonaro’s hands-off approach to the global pandemic has led to the loss of over 500,000 Brazilian lives. Indigenous communities have been especially hard hit as COVID-19 mortality rate for Indigenous communities is at least 16% higher than the Brazilian average. Through the Wings of Emergency project, Greenpeace has been able to step in and provide emergency supplies to Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon region. The coalition Wings of Emergency has provided over 100 tons of food and resources to several Indigenous communities in the Amazon. The coalition, in April, launched a factory to produce oxygen tanks in São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the city with the highest number of Indigenous Peoples in the country.

“We are living today in a country where there is a lack of respect to the Brazilian population and where millions of people are abandoned to their own luck, without food, jobs, or vaccines. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has been dealing with the pandemic irresponsibly and not protecting the people, causing a profound damage to thousands of families. It’s a state that could have been avoided if the pandemic had been treated with seriousness and science had been respected,” said Tica Minami, Program Director of Greenpeace Brazil.

Greenpeace Brazil continues to call on President Jair Bolsonaro and the Brazilian government to listen to Indigenous organizations and prioritize protecting the people of Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially the groups most at risk, like Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities.

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Victories for a Better Future

International Energy Agency Calls for immediate end to new fossil fuels

Climate pledges by governments to date — even if fully achieved—would fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, according to a new report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The agency’s report sets out more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050. These include, from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants. IEA recommends sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars be terminated by 2035, and that the global electricity sector reach net-zero emissions by 2040.

NOAA announces a new global partnership to use ocean sanctuaries to combat climate change

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a new global partnership with the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Chile, and France that will advance ocean sanctuaries in the fight against climate change. Our oceans are under constant threat — whether from climate impacts, overfishing, plastic pollution, deep sea mining, or oil drilling — and protecting at least 30% of them by 2030 is our best hope to help safeguard wildlife and tackle the climate emergency. By signaling to the rest of the world that ocean sanctuaries are critically important in the fight against climate change, the United States has shown that it is willing to take a leadership role in making that happen. This is the year for bold action and working to increase collaboration toward elevating ocean sanctuaries is a major step in the right direction.

EU Court of Justice rejects Bayer’s attempt to overturn bee-killing pesticide ban

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the European Commission was right to ban the use of three bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides: imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. The court rejected Bayer’s final attempt to overturn the ban and undermine the EU’s “precautionary principle” for the protection of the environment and human health.

Ineos pulls permit for plastics expansion in the port of Antwerp, Belgium

Following a court challenge launched last year by Greenpeace Belgium and others, the petrochemical company dropped its inadequate permit for the first stage of a planned plastics expansion project. Local protests against its plastics factory are surging, markets are losing interest, and Ineos’ permit has been poked full of holes.

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© Mitja Kobal / 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!

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]

© Rasmus Törnqvist / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Logo

Executive Director

Annie Leonard

Editorial Staff

Editor in Chief

Allison Gates

Development Editors

Elizabeth Bennett
Rogelio Ocampo

Editorial Staff

Photo Editor

Tim Aubry


Blair Miltenberger
Diego Johansen
Katie Myer

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