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Summer 2020

Rising to the Challenge

A Magazine By

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From the Executive Director

Photo of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Greenpeace has been extremely vigilant as corporations and other forces try to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis for their own agendas. It sure didn’t take long for the polluters to start trying to cash in—billionaire oil and gas CEOs and the plastics industry jumped on it right away.

We’re working to stop massive polluters from benefiting while the climate and people suffer. This crisis has also laid bare injustices which Black, Brown, and working class communities have felt for centuries: lack of health care and paid sick leave, and a system that prioritizes elites over the health of people and the planet. We need to highlight these injustices and build a better tomorrow.

Greenpeace is rising to the challenge, undeterred. Working from home our teams pivoted quickly to continue our fast paced, high stakes work.

We are doubling down on our campaign to advance climate solutions, focusing on the next COVID-19 stimulus package that will provide huge funding to help the economy. We want to be sure these public investments support a healthy, thriving economy—with clean, safe, renewable energy, rather than propping up fossil fuel corporations whose time is over. If we do this right, we will come out on the other side of this horrible crisis with much loss, for sure, but in a better place to build a healthy, prosperous, resilient economy for all.

Greenpeace is absolutely committed to continuing our advocacy and campaign work together and we’ve been experimenting with different ways to collaborate together when at home. We have had a number of video calls, for example, to share updates, provide training, and recruit people into our campaigns, often with thousands of people on the same call. And it’s working.

People all over the country are logging on and dialing in for volunteer trainings to learn how to advance climate solutions, to fight plastic pollution, to safeguard our democracy—and advance all of our important work for people and the planet. Thanks to your generous support, Greenpeace is building power in this unique time so we can hold the line against opportunistic corporate polluters and ensure that efforts to address the crisis move us towards a safer, more fair, and healthier world for all.

We’ll get through this awful crisis and arrive at a better place the same way Greenpeace always has—together, united in solidarity.

For a green and peaceful future,

Signature of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Annie Leonard, Executive Director

Greenpeace USA

Our Mission

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Antarctic Penguin Colonies Decline by as Much as 77% in Last 50 Years

By Crystal Mojica

On the last leg of Greenpeace’s epic Pole-to-Pole ship tour, marine scientists onboard two Greenpeace ships, the Esperanza and the Arctic Sunrise, sailed to Antarctica to research and expose the impact of climate change, plastic pollution, and industrial fishing in the region on penguin colonies, whales, and other marine life.

Scientists surveying chinstrap penguin colonies in Antarctica found drastic reductions in many colonies, with some declining by as much as 77% since they were last surveyed almost 50 years ago. The independent researchers found that every single colony surveyed on Elephant Island, an important habitat northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula, had declined. The number of chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island has dropped almost 60% since the last survey in 1971, with a total count of only 52,786 breeding pairs of chinstrap penguins, plummeting from previous survey estimates of around 122,550 pairs.

Dr. Heather J. Lynch, Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University, one of the expedition’s leads, said: “Such significant declines suggest that the Southern Ocean’s ecosystem is fundamentally changed from 50 years ago, and that the impacts of this are rippling up the food web to species like chinstrap penguins. While several factors may have a role to play, all the evidence we have points to climate change as being responsible for the changes we are seeing.”

The team of scientists, from Stony Brook and Northeastern University, has also been surveying a series of large but relatively unknown chinstrap penguin colonies on Low Island, using manual and drone surveying techniques. It was the first time the island was properly surveyed from land.

In tandem with the research, Greenpeace campaigners installed “disappearing” penguin ice sculptures in capitals around the world, from Washington D.C. to London, Buenos Aires to Cape Town, to demand urgent action to protect ocean wildlife with a Global Ocean Treaty.

“We installed a melting penguin sculpture in front of the U.S. Capitol to highlight the threats ocean wildlife is currently facing. Without protection, not only penguins are at stake but entire ecosystems are in danger from the impacts of industrial fishing, pollution, deep sea mining, and climate change. We’re calling on the U.S. government to support the creation of a strong Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations to protect 30 percent of our oceans by 2030. This new treaty would create a network of sanctuaries in international waters for wildlife to recover and thrive.”–Arlo Hemphill, Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Campaigner

Learn more at greenpeace.org/usa/8-reasons

Crystal Mojica

Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist

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© Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Bail out Workers, Not Oil Billionaires

By Tim Donaghy

Bailing out the fossil fuel industry is the exact worst response to the public health and economic crisis. The oil and gas industry is charging ahead with a reckless business model that puts the climate in peril, and has done a disastrous job preparing workers and communities for its inevitable decline. In order to prevent workers from being hung out to dry, we need a plan to gradually phase out fossil fuel companies, not bail out the wealthy CEOs and investors.

And, just as urgently, we need a concrete plan to ensure that every worker and impacted community will be better off as we gradually transition off fossil fuels and ramp up investment in clean energy jobs.

No workers left behind

There is no way to avoid the worst impacts of climate change without shrinking the fossil fuel industry and growing clean energy solutions. Transition is inevitable. Whether it will be just, equitable, and well-organized or unfair, greedy, and chaotic is the challenge in front of us.

With thoughtful planning, smart policies, and leadership from communities, we can ensure that the fossil fuel workforce is able to seamlessly transition to good, family-sustaining union jobs in an economy based on clean energy and climate protection.

How to support workers through a managed decline of the fossil fuel sector

Fossil fuel companies must be held accountable to keep their promises to workers, and, if not, the government should act as a backstop to ensure that all retirement and pension benefits are guaranteed. For any workers who lose their job in the market turmoil, the government must ensure five years of full wage support, as well as extensive job training and relocation support if necessary. Healthcare is a human right, and the government should not only ensure health benefits for these workers, but universal health care for the entire country.

We know what an unjust and unmanaged transition looks like

You need only look to the coal industry—where bankrupt companies dole out million-dollar bonuses to CEOs while slashing their workers’ pensions and health benefits—to see that fossil fuel executives do not have workers’ interests at heart.

Now is the time for investing in a Green New Deal that truly protects workers from economic uncertainty, ensures long-term prosperity for communities, and protects the climate.

Sign the petition to stop Trump from bailing out the fossil fuel industry at greenpeace.org/usa/bailout

Tim Donaghy

Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist

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© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

How the Plastics Industry Is Exploiting Anxiety about COVID-19

By Ivy Schlegel

Unfortunately, the plastics industry is opportunistically using this public health crisis to exploit people’s fears around sanitation and hygiene to interfere with legislation banning or regulating the use of single-use plastic—most notably plastic bags.

Showing their brazen opportunism, the Plastics Industry Association, which has long advocated against plastic bans nationwide, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging them to “make a public statement on the health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics,” despite the recent research showing that COVID-19 can live on plastic surfaces longer than others. The letter relies mostly on the same industry-funded research that has been touted by think tanks and plastics surrogates nationwide.

For years, the plastics industry has funded and promoted research to try to discredit the growing movement to end single-use plastic pollution. And when COVID-19 began to spread, they saw a chance to strike and activate their network of pro-plastics surrogates. Now more than ever, we need independent guidance from medical professionals to inform our decisions around hygiene and shopping. People’s safety should come before profits.

Plastic does not inherently make something clean and safe, and we should not confuse corporate public relations with science-based medical research. Two recent studies have concluded that plastics are among the surfaces that human coronaviruses may survive on for the longest. After these studies were publicized, several media outlets began portraying researcher “warnings” about the potential for reusable grocery bags to transmit the new coronavirus and COVID-19, despite the fact that reusable grocery bags were not among the surfaces examined.

These narratives falsely conflate older studies on bacteria on reusable bags with new studies or concerns about coronavirus to “prove” that plastic bags are the safest way to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Not only is this inaccurate, but it is a harmful deflection from the recent studies demonstrating that the virus will persist on plastic longer than almost any material examined, which is an important piece of information for people trying to safely navigate the grocery store during a time of crisis.

We don’t yet have all of the answers on COVID-19 to ensure both customer and worker safety, but those decisions should not be made based on disinformation and talking points from the plastics industry. During this pandemic, we encourage you to follow the advice of health experts and take the measures you need to keep you, your family, and employees healthy and safe.

To read the Greenpeace USA research brief, please visit greenpeace.org/usa/echo-chamber

Ivy Schlegel

Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist

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© Yukon Benner / Greenpeace

Victories for Earth and All the Life the Planet Sustains

Tar Sands Mine Project Abandoned—a proposal to build a $15.7 billion new tar sands mine in Alberta, Canada was killed by mining company Teck Resources Ltd. due to public opposition and the market uncertainty created by the lack of a coherent climate action plan from the Canadian government. It was a huge win for Indigenous rights and communities fighting to stop the project.

Big Setback for Heathrow Airport Expansion Plan—in a major win for Greenpeace UK, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s approval of the plan to build a third runway was unlawful for its failure to give due consideration to the UK’s commitments to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.

Greenpeace’s Sanctuary Documentary Wins Award—at the 2020 Sedona International Film Festival the documentary won Best Environmental Film. Produced by Oscar winner Javier Bardem and his brother Carlos Bardem, Sanctuary tells the story of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign as the brothers explore the wonder of underwater life of the Southern Ocean in a two-person submarine and meet Javier’s favorite animal, the penguin.

South Korea Announces Climate Manifesto—in a historic development, following intensive campaigning by Greenpeace East Asia, South Korea became the first East Asian country whose ruling party has announced a climate manifesto. It contains a series of policies including net-zero emissions by 2050, a carbon tax on the polluters, no overseas coal investment, and the intention to develop a Korea-customized Green New Deal policy to boost the economy as part of its COVID-19 response.

In the lead-up to the parliamentary election, Greenpeace campaigners argued that the country’s current economic structure was proven vulnerable even with a single virus outbreak and the climate crisis may bring an even bigger economic shock in the future. The only way to mitigate the bigger shock and disaster fueled by climate change is by proactively tackling it and restructuring the economy with a Korean Green New Deal. It proved to be a winning argument Greenpeace hopes will also be compelling to other governments.

Read more about all of Greenpeace’s important work at greenpeace.org

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© Manman Dejeto / Greenpeace

Land Grabbers, Loggers, and Miners in the Amazon Don’t Self-isolate

By Diego Gonzaga

Indigenous Peoples protect climate-critical forests.

Annually in April, thousands of Indigenous People from all over Brazil typically travel to Brasília, for the Acampamento Terra Livre (Free Land Camp), the largest gathering of Indigenous Peoples in the world. Some travel thousands of kilometers by land and water from remote corners of the Amazon to defend their traditions and livelihoods, exchange knowledge, and demand the Brazilian government abide by its constitutional duty and protect Indigenous rights, lives, and lands. Like many mass gatherings, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. While the event’s organizers heed shelter-in-place precautions, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is not providing fundamental protections from the pandemic, leaving Indigenous People and vulnerable communities in a deadly situation—one exacerbated by the lack of access to healthcare and other basic needs.

While many of these groups are geographically isolated, Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities in Brazil are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. From smallpox to influenza, history is proof that the introduction of new diseases can be fatal for Indigenous communities. However, the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and physical distancing recommendations haven’t stopped illegal land grabbers, miners, and loggers from continuing to invade Indigenous lands, putting entire communities at risk. In a short amount of time, the virus has gone from urban centers to remote Indigenous communities in the Amazon.

The current reality is a somber reminder of the tragic past. In the 1980s, 20 percent of the Yanomami population died of diseases brought by miners and road builders in the region.

The fight for Indigenous rights in Brazil is part of a centuries-old history that involves persecution, slavery, genocide, and systemic discrimination against communities by the national government. Indigenous Peoples are on the frontlines of the defense of climate-critical eco-systems. Their way of life and traditional knowledge is one of the best methods to preserve the forest. By empowering land grabbers, miners, and loggers to destroy the forest, the Brazilian government is not just gambling with the lives and livelihoods of nearly 1 million people, it’s endangering the health of the Amazon—and the future of our climate.

COVID-19 is not only showing the world the cracks in our healthcare, economic, and political systems. If we want a future that is just and safe for everyone, our relationship with the planet and with ourselves must change, starting by demanding that our governments put people—and the planet—first.

Learn more about these issues at greenpeace.org/usa/deforestation-brazil

Diego Gonzaga

Greenpeace International Content Editor

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© Christian Braga / MNI

Another Win in Court for Greenpeace and Free Speech

By Tom Wetterer

In late April, Resolute Forest Products, the logging giant that has waged meritless lawsuits against multiple Greenpeace offices and individual staff members since 2013, was ordered to reimburse our attorneys’ fees and costs related to dismissed legal claims that were intended to silence our criticism of the company’s controversial environmental record.

This is the latest favorable decision for Greenpeace in the U.S. federal lawsuit that started over four years ago. Resolute’s lawsuits are clear examples of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). The goal of a SLAPP suit is not to win in court, but instead to intimidate defendants and exhaust them of their resources.

Despite almost the entirety of the lawsuit already being dismissed in January 2019, Resolute continues to pursue this SLAPP tactic in an attempt to drain Greenpeace resources and distract us from other valuable work. But, in this case, the bully is left to foot the bill.

This decision shows that Resolute made an expensive mistake coming after Greenpeace for our work protecting Canada’s boreal forest. The judge’s decisions both to dismiss the majority of the claims in this case and now awarding substantial attorneys’ fees affirm that Resolute’s divisive and bullying tactics are a waste of time and resources. The court’s decision should be a warning to other corporations and powerful interests that legal attacks on free speech and public advocacy are bad business decisions.

Find out more about this exciting victory at greenpeace.org/usa/free-speech-resolute

Tom Wetterer

Greenpeace USA General Counsel

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© Jean-Simon Bégin

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 FreeWill.com/GreenpeaceFund—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 Corrine Barr:

1 (800) 328-0678 corrine.bar[email protected]

© Jody Amiet / Greenpeace

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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

Designers

Jacob Hardbower
Blair Miltenberger

Visuals Intern

MaryFrances Vorbach

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