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Spring 2021

America Moves Forward

A Magazine By

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From the Executive Director

Photo of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

As soon as the 2020 election was called, Greenpeace jumped into action campaigning for our new president to reject all fossil fuel industry executives, lobbyists, and representatives from the administration, transition team, and cabinet.

During the campaign, Joe Biden put forward bold and ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis and advance environmental justice as part of his commitment to Build Back Better. Now we are working to hold him to those promises—and pushing for even more. To get it right, he must embrace action at the scale science and justice demand, and fill his administration with climate leaders.

Biden’s nomination of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for Secretary of Energy is a strong pick. She has forcefully spoken out against both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and advocated for shifting investment from oil and gas to renewable energy solutions. That’s the kind of leadership the Department of Energy has been sorely missing.

His choice of former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the White House’s domestic climate policy efforts is also very promising. McCarthy will be the counterpart to globally-focused Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry and she will play a huge part in ensuring that justice is prioritized for the communities most impacted by fossil-fueled pollution.

And New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland’s nomination for Secretary of the Department of Interior is nothing short of historic. This makes her the first Native American to lead the department that oversees millions of acres of Tribal lands, essentially turning a page in this country’s dark history and giving an Indigenous woman authority over stolen land. Haaland has been a champion for our environment and public lands and has called for a Green New Deal and a resolution to protect 30% of our land and oceans by 2030.

Voters delivered a clear mandate for our elected officials to act on climate. The story we’ve been told over and over again by corporate elites is that the inequitable, polluting economy they have built is inevitable. But our story says that the just, green, and peaceful future we deserve is possible, and together—thanks to your generous support—we are working to build the power to turn that vision into a reality. We are energized and hopeful, grateful you’re at our side!

For a green and peaceful future,

Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

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.

© Nevio Smajic / Greenpeace

Greenpeace USA’s Just Recovery Agenda

By Amy Moas, Ph.D

Greenpeace USA is dedicated to building a world in which all people have what they need to thrive and the boundaries of the planet we share are respected. As we look to recover from COVID-19, address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first, it is time to use the tools and power of the federal government to solve problems rather than exacerbate them.

This just, green, and peaceful future we envision is guided by a set of deeply held, fundamental values. We need a just recovery that is rooted in equity, community, justice, freedom, compassion, courage, and creativity.

The policies that we put forth in our Just Recovery Agenda are shaped by seven core principles that will facilitate action at the scale that science and justice demand.

  1. Health and wellbeing for communities
  2. Living within planetary boundaries
  3. Economic protections for people, not corporations
  4. Justice and equity across communities, generations, and borders
  5. Democratic decision-making
  6. Balancing systemic change and immediate relief
  7. Resiliency and preventing future crises

The majority of the policy solutions we advocate for a just recovery embody one or more of these principles. The policies we support aim to shift mindsets, cultural norms, how people are treated, how our voices are heard, and how bedrock environmental laws are upheld.

Our Recovery Agenda outlines policies in five key areas that will facilitate bringing about a more just and equitable world: ending the climate crisis, defending democracy, fighting plastic pollution, protecting forests, and protecting the oceans. A sixth section also elevates platforms and policies of the larger progressive movement and its broad and diverse collective vision for a better world.

As an organization, Greenpeace is committed to holding ourselves accountable to these values and principles, to our communities, and to the scale of action that science and justice demand.

To learn more about our vision for federal policy, read the Recovery Agenda.

Amy Moas, Ph.D

Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner

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© Ute Klaphake / Greenpeace

Discussions begin on the development of a global plastics treaty

By Kate Melges

In the lead-up to the United Nations Environment Assembly’s fifth session (UNEA-5), Greenpeace campaigners and our allies in the growing Break Free From Plastic movement advocated for world governments to begin negotiations on a legally binding agreement to address marine plastic pollution.

The flow of plastics into our environment has reached crisis proportions, and the evidence is most clearly on display in our oceans. It is estimated that up to 12 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. Our planet can no longer tolerate a culture of throw-away plastics. Single-use plastics are filling up our landfills, choking our rivers, and contaminating our oceans.

Over 90% of plastics are not recycled—recycling alone is simply never going to solve the pollution problem.

A legally binding global plastics treaty should include agreements on environmental monitoring of the presence of plastic pollution, plastic pollution prevention measures, coordination and alignment with existing international conventions and agreements on plastic pollution, and technical and financial support for developing countries that will need assistance to take the actions agreed upon.

A comprehensive study by the UN Environmental Assembly concluded that “[n]o global agreement exists to specifically prevent marine plastic litter and microplastics or provide a comprehensive approach to managing the lifecycle of plastics.” With a strong international agreement we can bridge the gap in existing Conventions addressing different aspects of marine plastic pollution.

Kate Melges

Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Plastics Campaigner

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© Justin Hofman / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Inc. v. Walmart

By John Hocevar

In December 2020, Greenpeace Inc. filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court alleging that Walmart has employed unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practices by incorrectly labeling and advertising its various private label throwaway plastic products and packaging as recyclable.

Through the suit, Greenpeace is demanding that Walmart remove false and misleading labels stating that its disposable plastic products and packaging are recyclable, when they are not. Greenpeace alleges that Walmart has violated California consumer protection laws, including the California Environmental Marketing Claims Act which regulates deceptive environmental marketing claims.

Walmart knows that its customers are concerned about single-use plastics, and has been using misleading labels that falsely claim packaging is recyclable when it is bound for an incinerator or landfill. Until Walmart and other polluting corporations take responsibility for the damage their throwaway plastic is doing to our environment and our communities, the plastic crisis will continue to get worse. It is time for Walmart to end its reliance on single-use plastic and shift toward systems of reuse that truly address the pollution crisis.

Greenpeace’s complaint states that Walmart’s recyclability claims are false, misleading, and deceptive because most consumers in the State of California do not have access to facilities that are capable of segregating the products from the general waste stream to be recycled. Moreover, there are no end markets to use the plastics to manufacture new items, so they are destined to end up in landfills or the natural environment.

Greenpeace’s lawsuit highlighted nearly a dozen examples of Walmart’s private label products with unqualified and otherwise problematic recyclable labels, and the organization alleges that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, a product or package cannot be marketed as recyclable unless it can be “collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.” A violation of the FTC guidelines is also a violation of California law.

Greenpeace is represented by Lexington Law Group in the case against Walmart. Lexington specializes in enforcing laws that protect consumers, the environment, and public health.

Read the full complaint.

John Hocevar

Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director

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© Greenpeace

Deep Trouble: The Murky World of the Deep Sea Mining Industry

By Arlo Hemphill

An exclusive Greenpeace International report revealed for the first time who is behind the controversial deep sea mining industry. It shows who stands to benefit and who is left at risk if governments allow deep sea mining exploitation to begin.

Greenpeace’s analysis tracks the ownership and beneficiaries of private companies who are behind calls to open up the seabed to commercial mining. The investigation uncovered a web of subsidiaries, sub-contractors, and murky partnerships whose ultimate decision-makers and those in line to profit are based overwhelmingly in the Global North—while the states sponsoring these companies, largely countries in the Global South, are exposed to liability and financial risk.

Despite the UN Law of the Sea naming the International Seabed Area as “Common Heritage of Humankind,” the shadowy deep sea mining industry is on course to cause irreversible impacts on deep sea ecosystems to benefit a wealthy few. Not only does deep sea mining pose a dangerous threat to biodiversity and the global carbon cycle, the consequences if this mining goes forward would disproportionately affect the most marginalized among us.

To date, 30 contracts to explore for deep sea mining covering over a million square kilometers of the international seabed, an area roughly the size of France and Germany combined, have been given out by the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is supposedly responsible for regulating any activity on the seafloor “for the benefit of humankind as a whole.”

Greenpeace’s report makes it explicitly clear that world leaders must establish a Global Ocean Treaty this year that will allow us to safeguard marine life in international waters from destructive industry practices, something not currently possible under international law. Greenpeace and scientists are calling for a Treaty that can create a network of ocean sanctuaries covering at least a third of the global oceans by 2030.

With deep sea mining corporations holding a heavy influence over governments and international negotiations, we need to make sure our movement for ocean protection is louder than ever. Watch Ocean Witness episode 3 to discover more about deep sea mining and its danger.

Add your name to the call for a Global Ocean Treaty that can protect people, our climate, and wildlife

Arlo Hemphill

Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Campaigner

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© Bárbara Sánchez Palomero / Greenpeace

Analysis exposes plastics industry’s “chemical recycling” fantasy

By Ivy Shlegel

Despite decades of deceptive industry marketing, we know we can’t recycle our way out of the plastics pollution crisis. But the companies making and selling plastics—and their trade association surrogate, the American Chemistry Council—aren’t giving up. Instead, they’re doubling down to mislead investors, governments, and the public into believing we can. And they’re using the fantasy of chemical recycling to do it.

A Greenpeace USA report, Deception by the Numbers, examined 52 projects touted by the American Chemistry Council as “chemical” or “advanced” recycling, finding that many are either not viable or misleadingly promoted as recycling when they largely produce fuels and waxes. The report concludes that “chemical recycling” is not a solution to the plastics pollution crisis, but rather a bait-and-switch PR tactic meant to create the illusion of progress by industry.

Chemical and advanced recycling are vague terms that can refer to a number of technologies, many of which remain in the lab or pilot phases. These technologies promise to convert plastic waste into plastic’s chemical building blocks to generate “like-new” material. These technologies encompass two general categories—plastic/waste-to-fuel and plastic-to-plastic. The industry has worked to conflate these terms and group them under the umbrella of recycling.

Greenpeace’s report concludes that one third of the total projects touted by the American Chemistry Council are not likely to be viable and that none of the plastic-to-plastic projects show promise of becoming viable. Despite the fact that these projects have not proven viable, consumer goods companies have promoted them through their corporate responsibility materials and circular economy commitments. Companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Danone, and Procter & Gamble have invested in or agreed to purchase material from these technologies.

The American Chemistry Council, the plastics industry, and the consumer goods sector need to stop hiding behind the fantasy of chemical recycling. Turning plastics into even more unneeded fuel is a bad investment and certainly should not be considered recycling. Many of the projects the industry promotes as chemical recycling are not even viable and are meant to give a false sense of progress on the pollution crisis.

Read Greenpeace’s complete analysis of the chemical and advanced recycling projects.

Ivy Shlegel

Greenpeace USA Plastics Research Specialist

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© Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace

Victories for People and the Planet

Court rejects offshore drilling in the Arctic

The Trump administration’s approval of the first offshore oil-drilling development in federal Arctic waters was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Hilcorp Alaska received approval in 2018 to build and operate the controversial Liberty project, an artificial drilling island and underwater pipeline that would risk oil spills in the sensitive Beaufort Sea and threaten polar bears and Arctic communities. The ruling in the lawsuit brought by Greenpeace and others is a huge victory for people, Arctic wildlife, and the planet.

Denmark cancels new oil and gas permits

The Danish Parliament announced that it will cancel all future licensing rounds for new oil and gas exploration and production permits in the Danish part of the North Sea and end existing production by 2050. As a major oil producing country in the EU, Denmark’s announcement is a landmark decision towards the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels. Additionally, the political agreement allocates money to secure a just transition of impacted workers. This is a watershed moment as Denmark sets an end date to oil and gas production and bids farewell to the future licensing rounds for oil in the North Sea, so the country can inspire other countries to end our dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. This is a huge victory for the climate movement and all the people who have pushed for many years to make it happen.

South Korea pledges carbon neutrality by 2050

Following Greenpeace East Asia’s campaigning, the Korean National Assembly declared a climate emergency and the Republic of Korea vowed to be carbon neutral by 2050. We hope this will push the Korean economy to shift from fossil fuels to a 100% clean energy. In addition, this is an opportunity for South Korea to encourage and collaborate with other countries involved in its New Southern Policy.

Taiwan is added to the “dirty list” for fish produced by forced labor

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Labor has included Taiwan-caught fish in its List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. The decision to add Taiwan to this “dirty list” followed release of the Greenpeace Southeast Asia report “Seabound: The Journey to Modern Slavery on the High Seas” that exposed systemic forced labor in the Taiwanese fishing industry despite promises made n the Taiwanese fishing industry despite promises made.

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© PHOTOGRAPHER / 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]

© Bernd Roemmelt / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Logo

Executive Director

Annie Leonard

Editorial Staff

Editor in Chief

Sara Rycroft

Development Editors

Elizabeth Bennett

Allison Gates

Rogelio Ocampo

Editorial Staff

Photo Editor

Tim Aubry

Legal Editor

Deepa Padmanabha


Jacob Hardbower
Blair Miltenberger
Katie Myer

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