Greenpeace Compass Logo Greenpeace Compass Logo

Summer 2021

Exploring the Indian Ocean

A Magazine By

Greenpeace Logo

From the Executive Director

Photo of Annie Leonard, Executive Director

In this moment two possible futures are before us—one in which the Biden administration and members of Congress deliver on promises to prioritize climate and environmental justice, and the other in which fossil fuel corporations escape accountability for their decades of pollution and deceit. Which future will today’s policymakers in power deliver? That’s the question.

Greenpeace is fighting on multiple fronts for climate action at the scale that science and justice demand. That means saying YES to Greenpeace’s Just Recovery Agenda and NO to fossil fuel corporations. As a top priority this year, it specifically means saying NO to billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded fossil fuel subsidies and sweetheart deals for dirty energy operations.

We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels and limit climate breakdown at the same time. Especially not if we continue subsidizing the very corporations responsible for the crisis we’re in today. Even in the middle of a climate crisis, oil and gas corporations are still planning new drilling projects, and nearly half of the yet-to-be produced oil in the U.S. would be unprofitable without subsidies from the federal government. Eliminating subsidies would be a huge blow to fossil fuel corporations.

So it’s no surprise that oil lobbyists at the American Petroleum Institute and their political allies are determined to hold on to the tax breaks and loopholes they’re used to. Their survival depends on it. But what’s bad for oil lobbyists is good for the rest of us—if we end fossil fuel subsidies we can instead invest that money in a just transition to renewable energy.

Shifting to clean, reliable energy will not only slow the tide of climate catastrophe, it will create millions of new jobs that sustain families while protecting community health. We deserve a world beyond fossil fuels: a world in which workers’ rights, community health, and our shared climate come before corporate profits.

Right now, we have an unprecedented chance to lay the groundwork, and Greenpeace is going all-in. Not a dime of our tax dollars should go to corporations that poison our communities and wreck our climate. By ending government subsidies for fossil fuels, we can fight the climate crisis and work toward justice, dignity, and wellbeing for everyone at the same time. That’s the future we want and deserve, and if we stand strong together, I believe it’s within our reach.

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 greenpeace.org to learn more about Greenpeace, Inc., and greenpeacefund.org 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.

© Maarten Van Rouveroy / Greenpeace

Divesting from the Bad, Investing in the Good

By Anusha Narayanan

The Biden-Harris Administration and Congress have a mandate to pass a bold and ambitious economic recovery package that invests in a renewable energy economy and divests from the fossil fuel industry. Greenpeace supporters have weighed in and signed thousands of petitions to the Biden Administration, urging them to include the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies in the next economic recovery package.

The U.S. government has subsidized coal, oil, and gas for decades, despite the fact that a majority of voters want to end fossil fuel subsidies. Currently, experts estimate that direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry total around $20 billion every year, $15 billion of that from the federal government. Indirect subsidies—policies that aren’t targeted at fossil fuel corporations specifically but still benefit them—total a whopping $649 billion per year in the U.S. alone. It’s time for our government to divest from systems of exploitation and extraction, like fossil fuels, and begin investing in community health and wellbeing.

We have a better chance at creating millions of good-paying, stable, union jobs with renewable energy than we do with fossil fuels. It’s time for our government to invest in the future, not keep bailing out the past.

As we push for bold, ambitious planet solutions, we cannot forget that climate, racial, and economic justice are fundamentally linked. Extractive industries have wrecked our climate while treating working-class communities of color as sacrifice zones for decades. In the United States alone, air pollution from burning fossil fuels is linked to an estimated 350,000 deaths every year, primarily in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working-class communities.

This past spring, Greenpeace released a joint report with the Movement for Black Lives that examines the disproportionate impacts of oil, gas, and coal production on communities of color.
The report gives an overview of each stage of the life cycles of oil, gas, and coal—extraction, processing, transport, and combustion—and how each stage can generate toxic air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are driving the global climate crisis.

The science is clear: we can save lives by rapidly phasing out fossil fuel production, starting right now. By pairing policies to rein in oil, gas, and coal corporations with investments in the workers and communities with the most on the line, we can begin the necessary transition to an energy economy that works for all people.

Demand Climate Justice—Take Action Now

Anusha Narayanan

Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Manager

Arrow indicating next article below

© Maja Bota/Greenpeace

Shopping for Plastic, the 2021 Supermarket Ranking

By Kate Melges

In March Greenpeace USA released its second ranking of 20 U.S. grocery retailers’ efforts to reduce single-use plastics. As with our first ranking in 2019, all of the supermarkets we assessed received failing scores.

Following initial progress after our first ranking, U.S. grocery retailers largely deprioritized sustainability, including plastic pollution, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many retailers fell prey to plastics industry propaganda and discontinued bans on single-use plastic checkout bags, delayed implementation of reuse initiatives, and struggled to maintain momentum on sustainability initiatives as corporate priorities shifted to keeping shelves stocked and responding to the public health risks of the pandemic. We now know single-use plastics are not inherently safer than reusables, and supermarkets must embrace a reuse revolution.

 “Every piece of plastic that comes through a grocery store ends up polluting our environment, harming our health, accelerating climate change, and impacting communities on the frontlines of this crisis. We need to see retailers acting now to dramatically reduce their plastic footprints and move from single-use packaging to reuse and package-free approaches. Customers want better options than retailers are giving them.”
—John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director

In stark contrast to the U.S., even during the pandemic, some supermarkets worldwide, like South Korean Lotte Mart and ALDI UK & Ireland, committed to reducing single-use plastics 50% by 2025. Fortunately, several U.S. retailers, including top-ranked Giant Eagle, are beginning to restart reduction initiatives that were paused when the pandemic spread to the U.S.

Check out how your favorite supermarket ranked this year!

While retail operations and the world have changed amid a pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the myriad crises facing our society and planet that continue to worsen every day, including plastic pollution and runaway climate change. We must continue to demand bold action from retailers on single-use plastics.

Tell supermarkets it’s time to ditch single-use plastic packaging.

add your name

Kate Melges

Greenpeace USA Senior Oceans Plastics Campaigner

Arrow indicating next article below

© Argelia Zacatzi / Greenpeace

Environmental Racism in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley”

By Perry Wheeler

Human rights experts from The United Nations Human Rights Council recently issued a statement raising “serious concerns” about further industrialization of Cancer Alley in Louisiana, saying that the “development of petrochemical complexes is a form of environmental racism.”

The Council’s statement notes: “In 2018, St. James Parish Council approved the ‘Sunshine Project,’ which would be one of the largest plastics facilities in the world …” and, “[this] petrochemical complex alone will more than double the cancer risks in St. James Parish affecting disproportionately African American residents.”

We know that plastic production has disproportionate impacts on low-income communities, often communities of color, and it is unconscionable to allow sites like this mega-complex to exist and to continue expanding. People in Louisiana and all over the world have a right to live without worrying about getting cancer because of the greed of fossil fuel and petrochemical corporations. We cannot allow the health of these communities to be sacrificed for single-use packaging that isn’t needed in the first place.

The institutional racism integral to the creation and continued operation of “Cancer Alley” has been called out by community activists for decades. In February Greenpeace and our Build Back Fossil Free coalition allies and activists organized a week of action with socially-distanced events from San Francisco to Standing Rock to St. James Parish, Louisiana, urging President Biden to protect and invest in Black, Indigenous, Brown, and working-class communities and to launch a national climate mobilization to end the era of fossil fuel production.

Groups opposing the proposed petrochemical mega-complex in St. James Parish, held demonstrations outside the Army Corps of Engineers office in New Orleans, at the project site in St. James, and in San Francisco, demanding that the project’s federal permit be revoked. The groups delivered more than 5,500 opposition letters to the Corps, citing concerns over environmental justice, wetlands destruction, and pollution.

Climate destruction and plastic pollution are only possible in a world in which racism is tolerated. It’s time for a reckoning, for Coke, Pepsi, Procter and Gamble, and other throwaway plastic barons to recognize their impact on communities of color.

Demand big corporations do their part to end plastic pollution!

Perry Wheeler

Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist

Arrow indicating next article below

© Greenpeace / Les Stone

Making Mincemeat of the Pantanal

By Diana Ruiz

As the global community watched the tragedy of Brazil’s Amazon in flames for a second year, the world’s largest wetland, Pantanal, burned at an unprecedented rate. Severe drought and accelerating deforestation coupled with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental agenda has created an unmitigated disaster. In many cases cattle ranchers are suspected of starting fires deliberately.

The Pantanal is one of many climate critical biomes in Brazil rich in biodiversity and home to the biggest number of spotted jaguars and the endangered giant otters and the bright blue hyacinth macaws.

A new report released by Greenpeace International links the record-breaking fires in the Pantanal to the world’s largest meat processor, JBS and its leading competitors Marfrig and Minerva. The Making Mincemeat of the Pantanal documents 15 cattle ranchers, where at least 73,000 hectares —an area larger than Singapore—burned within the boundaries of properties owned by the ranchers. In 2018-2019, these ranchers supplied at least 14 meat process facilities owned by JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva. Nine of the ranchers were also linked to other environmental violations such as illegal clearing or property registration irregularities at the time of identified trade with the meat processors.

These same meat processors in turn supply Pantanal beef to food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Nestlé, French groups Carrefour and Casino, and markets across the world.

 “The world’s largest wetland—a critical habitat for jaguars—is literally going up in smoke. By ignoring the destruction, JBS and the other leading meat processors, Marfrig and Minerva, are all but handing out the matches for this year’s fires.”
—Rômulo Batista, Greenpeace Brazil Amazon Campaigner

In January 2021, Greenpeace International alerted JBS, Marfrig and Minerva to the environmental and legal risks in their Pantanal supply base linked to these ranchers. These included not only connections to the extensive fires, but also cattle supplies from ranches sanctioned for illegal clearance or where property registrations were suspended or canceled.

Despite Greenpeace International findings, all the meat processors asserted that the ranches that had supplied them directly were compliant with their policy at the time of purchase. None of the meat processors gave any meaningful indication that it had reviewed its Pantanal supply base for deliberate use of fire. Also none indicated that it required ranchers to comply with its policy across their operations, in spite of findings revealing significant movement of cattle between operations owned by the same individual. Meanwhile, JBS has even publicly stated that it has no intention to exclude ranchers caught violating its decade-old commitments.

Since the release of the Greenpeace International investigation, JBS announced a new commitment that only extends further immunity to forest criminals in its supply chain by 2035, all under the “net-zero” banner. The company’s statement makes no commitment to tackle meat production, the fundamental source of its carbon footprint. Its announcement further negates its previous commitment to deliver zero deforestation across the entire Amazon supply base by 2011, which also failed to materialize. Equally troubling is that the announcement only addresses illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030 and other deforestation by 2035. It also completely neglects the deliberate use of fires.

It remains clear that JBS and the other leading beef processors seem willing to continue butchering the Pantanal and making mincemeat of their sustainability pledges. Importing countries, financiers, and meat buyers like McDonald’s, Burger King, or French groups Carrefour and Casino must shift away from industrial meat production and close market access to companies that are contributing to forest and ecosystem destruction and human rights abuses.

Read the report, Making Mincemeat of the Pantanal

Diana Ruiz

Greenpeace USA Senior Forest Campaigner

Arrow indicating next article below

© Leo Otero / Greenpeace

Greenpeace’s 2021 Indian Ocean Voyage

By John Hocevar

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise recently sailed the Indian Ocean to document and expose the threats our oceans face. This area is home to incredible wildlife and ecosystems—from pygmy blue whales and dugongs to colorful coral reefs and the largest seagrass meadow in the world.

But it’s not just marine life that needs healthy oceans. Millions of people living in the coastal areas and islands of the Indian Ocean rely on the ocean for their food and livelihoods. Industrial fishing and climate breakdown are emptying the seas of life.

By working with communities who are leading the way in protection, and carrying out scientific research at sea, our voyage’s mission was to learn more about these waters and call on governments around the world to protect the oceans.

We explored the Saya de Malha Bank, the largest submerged ocean bank in the world. Its enormous seagrass meadows are a vital home for ocean wildlife and one of the biggest carbon sinks in the global oceans.

Our expedition also took us to islands in the north of Madagascar, important places for ocean animals that migrate all over the Indian Ocean. And the mangrove belts off Madagascar are a vital habitat for coastal wildlife.

The Arctic Sunrise drew attention to the efforts of many artisanal fishers, like the ones of Barren Isles, working to protect their local waters to benefit people and wildlife.

In sharp contrast to communities practicing sustainable fishing, Greenpeace’s tour of the Indian Ocean also took us to places far out at sea where industrial fishing companies use gill nets that kill huge numbers of small whales and dolphins as bycatch. And we also highlighted the threat posed by longliners. Their boats use fishing lines up to 60 miles long with 10,000 hooks to catch tuna—but they also kill huge numbers of sharks, seabirds, and turtles.

We need governments around the world to act to protect the oceans. Greenpeace is campaigning for a strong Global Ocean Treaty that would help better protect places like the Indian Ocean, giving coastal communities and marine life a chance against destructive fisheries and other ocean threats.

Join the millions of people who are calling for a Global Ocean Treaty

John Hocevar

Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director

Arrow indicating next article below

© Tommy Trenchard / Greenpeace

Five Ways Nature Supports Life on Earth

By Marie Bout

Biodiversity is built from three intertwining threads: ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity. Put simply, the more diverse these interwoven natural systems are, the more resilient they are to disturbances. When there’s balance, all these things work together to clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, stop disease outbreaks, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. But whenever a species disappears, it’s like a thread in the web is cut, leaving holes in the planet’s safety net and shifting the finely balanced systems.

Here are 5 ways biodiversity supports life on earth:

  1. Nature gives us what we need. Food, clean air, and water are the foundations of life and Earth’s biodiversity has provided civilizations with the essentials we need to survive on this planet.
  2. Nature protects us. Some of the most important roles of biodiversity are defensive. Our ecosystems help to regulate our climate and insure against disease outbreaks like COVID-19. You might already know that forests are important carbon sinks and essential for fighting the climate crisis, but oceans also play an important role.
  3. Nature keeps things flowing. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two primary biological nutrients required by all life on earth that circulate through Earth’s ecosystems. Human activity has so thoroughly disrupted Earth’s natural nutrient cycles that we have degraded soils and created aquatic dead zones.
  4. Nature nourishes our spirit. As many Indigenous and forest peoples know well, we are part of nature, not apart from it. There are so many spiritual and recreational benefits in nature. Even in western science, the psychological benefits of nature are widely documented.
  5. Nature could solve future problems. Scientific knowledge continues to grow and evolve. The more that we can keep alive and thriving, the greater that knowledge can be. For example, nature has helped, and continues to help, in important medical advances.

This year, Greenpeace is calling on governments to agree to an ambitious and implementable rehabilitation plan for nature. We’re calling for a commitment to bold targets that protect at least 30% of our lands and oceans by 2030, with a clear plan for how to get there in partnership with local and Indigenous communities, and enough funding and resources to make it happen.

We cannot risk destroying the web of life that sustains us. We are part of nature, and if it disappears, our future will disappear with it. Protecting biodiversity is a way to protect ourselves.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was an American poet, publisher, and founder of San Francisco’s City Lights Books, the first all-paperback bookstore in the United States and a home for progressive politics and provocative, forward-thinking writers. In 1977 Ferlinghetti joined the crew of a Greenpeace ship pursuing Russian whaling fleets, and in the ship’s “dreambook” he left a poem about the destruction of nature and its human predators, which reads in part:

And Captain Ahab Captain Death Captain Anti-Poetry
Captain Dingbat No Face Captain Apocalypse
at the helm
of the Killer Ship of Death
And the blue-eyed whales
exhausted and running
but still
singing
to each other . . .

Ferlinghetti published this poem in Northwest Ecolog (City Lights, 1978). He also revised another one of his poems for publication in the November 1978 issue of Greenpeace Chronicles. That poem had also emerged from a dream—a prophetic one, in retrospect:

In a dream within a dream I dreamt a dream
of creatures everywhere dying out
in shrinking rainforests
in piney woods & high sierras
on shrinking prairies & tumbleweed mesas
. . . a dream
of the earth heating up & drying out
in the famous Greenhouse Effect
under its canopy of carbon dioxide
breathed out by a billion
infernal combustion engines . . .

“These visions appear familiar now, but in 1979 they felt shocking,” Greenpeace co-founder Rex Wyler recalls. “Almost no one had yet heard of the Greenhouse Effect. This was 10 years before Bill McKibben’s famous book on the subject of global warming, 35 years before Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction.”

“Remembering Lawrence Ferlinghetti ignites in me a reminder that poets typically lead cultural change, serve as pioneering voices that might awaken an emerging zeitgeist, a new awareness arising in humanity. Ferlinghetti wrote his dark dreams not to lead us to despair, but rather to action,” Wyler says.

Marie Bout

Greenpeace International Global Communications Strategist

Arrow indicating next article below

© Mitja Kobal / Greenpeace

Victories for People and the Planet

Public Lands and Waters Reclaimed for the People—Within days of taking office, President Joe Biden issued executive orders pausing new oil, gas, and coal lease sales on federal lands, eliminating some fossil fuel giveaways, directing 40% of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities, and putting the US on course to protect 30% of public lands and oceans by 2030. The move came one day after Greenpeace launched a collaboration with artist Shepard Fairey demanding President Biden deliver a green, just, and peaceful future.

Greenpeace Wins Film AwardDisappearing Penguins, the short film we made about Greenpeace’s chinstrap penguin survey in Antarctica last year, won “Best Children’s Film” at the 2021 Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The annual gatherings (held virtually this year) inspire environmental activism and a love for nature—through film. Wild & Scenic shares an urgent call to action, encouraging festival-goers to learn more about what they can do to save our threatened planet.

Deep Sea Drilling Ended for Good Off Coast of New Zealand Island—On March 10 the last remaining oil exploration permit off the coast of the South Island of Aotearoa in New Zealand was surrendered. Deep sea oil drilling is now closed for good everywhere except in the heart of the New Zealand oil and gas industry, in Taranaki. This win comes after a decade-long campaign by Indigenous tribes, local groups, and Greenpeace New Zealand to protect the oceans and the climate from reckless deep sea exploratory drilling in Aotearoa. Despite aggressive attempts to turn New Zealand into “the Texas of the South Pacific,” people power has booted out one oil company after another, a huge testament to the collective strength of everyday people against big corporations.

Greece Going Solar—Municipalities from west Greece united to create the biggest European social solar policy project to date with 108MW of photovoltaics to cover their needs and offer free energy to 5,000 vulnerable households. Greenpeace Greece expects it to spark similar projects on a national level. In 2016 Greenpeace started campaigning on social solar policy and in 2018 issued a guide on how Greece can make full use of existing resources in order to help 340,000 households become small producers of solar energy for self-consumption, thus liberating themselves from energy poverty.

Turkey Cancels Coal Power Plant Project—The review process of one of the six coal-fired thermal power plants planned in Elbistan was terminated by Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and urbanization, thus permanently canceling the project. The move follows a sustained “Let Kahramanmaraş Breathe” campaign waged by Greenpeace Turkey and allies who welcomed the news as momentum for getting existing and other planned dirty energy power plants closed in a planned manner in order for the region to survive the drought and deadly air pollution fueled by the climate crisis.

Arrow indicating next article below

© Richard Robinson / 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 FreeWill.com/GreenpeaceFund—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]

© Jody Amiet / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Logo
Best in America - Certified by Independent Charities of America Greenpeace Fund, Inc. on Charity Navigator

Greenpeace International activists have occupied a Shell platform heading for a major oil and gas field to demand that Shell Stop Drilling and Start Paying. Donate today to help hold megacorporations accountable!

POWER THE MOVEMENT
Close