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Winter 2021

Fossil Fuel: Profits Over People

A Magazine By

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From the Executive Directors

Greed isn’t green. From fossil fuels to plastics to logging, mining, overfishing, and industrial agriculture, the relentless pursuit of corporate profits is driving the climate crisis and destroying our forests, oceans, air, and earth. And corporations use that cash to pollute our democracy, too, holding out campaign contributions like bait to politicians easy for the picking.

It’s long past time to put people and the planet above profits and the Greenpeace network is at the forefront of the global movement to expose and hold corporations accountable for environmental destruction. The current economic system is driven by the lie that endless growth is both good and sustainable and we need to redefine how we think about our quality of life by rejecting endless consumption and living within planetary boundaries.

And if we’re going to have a climate-safe future and prevent mass extinction, we need to dismantle the broken systems and global power structures that have failed us. Our hurting planet needs solutions, and we know what must be done. It’s just a matter of mustering the will to do it.

Thank you for helping Greenpeace USA be the champion Earth so badly needs and making it possible for us to challenge corporate power and fight for a better future. Together, we rise. And, together, we win. Let’s do this!

For a green and peaceful future,

Signature of Annie Leonard & Ebony Martin

Annie Leonard & Ebony Martin

Co-Executive Directors of Greenpeace USA

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All Hands on Deck— NOW!

By Kaisa Kosonen

The report on Physical Science Basis, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 this year provides an update on what’s happening to our warming planet and why. It distils the advances in physical climate science since the previous assessment report published 8 years ago. The IPCC report makes vividly clear what’s at stake if we don’t stop greedy corporations from fueling the climate crisis.

Climate change is no longer a future threat. It is here and it’s rapidly getting worse. The unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires, heavy rains and floods, dying sea-life, melting polar ice and collapsing ecosystems provide painful reminders of just how far into the danger zone we have already plunged. What matters now is where we go from here.

It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Multiple lines of evidence indicate the unprecedented nature of recent large-scale climatic changes in the context of all human history.

Warming will continue until carbon emissions reach net zero. Meeting the Paris Agreement long-term goal of 1.5°C would mean less of everythingsea-level rise, worsening weather extremes, and harshening living conditions in both land and ocean—compared to higher warming levels. The 1.5°C warming limit is still within reach, from a physical perspective, but only with rapid emissions cuts that bring carbon emissions to net zero and beyond.

Failing to cut global emissions from current levels could eat up the remaining carbon budget for 1.5 °C by 2030. Strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in methane emissions are also needed, and would come with the co-benefit of improved air quality by reducing global surface ozone.

The science is clear, the situation is serious, and now it’s all hands on deck.

We must do everything faster and bolder, at all levels, leaving no sector behind. We must speed up and scale up for good, with massive public pressure. This is our moment of truth, a time for radical honesty. With incremental action we are only fooling ourselves.

There can’t be any new fossil fuel investments anywhere, and the phase-out of existing fossil fuel infrastructure must align with the 1.5°C budget. Big polluters must stop doing better and start doing enough.

This is the moment to rise up, be bold, and think big. And there’s a role to play for everyone.

Read the Greenpeace briefing on the IPCC report’s key takeaways in full.

Kaisa Kosonen

Greenpeace Nordic Senior Policy Advisor & IPCC Focal Point for Greenpeace International

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© Chanklang Kanthong / Greenpeace

Protecting Our Oceans and Nature with a Global Plastics Treaty

By John Hocevar

In February, the United Nations will decide whether to begin developing a global plastic treaty. The U.S. was against the treaty while Trump was in office, and the Biden administration has yet to take a public position. Meanwhile, our oceans are overrun with plastic trash, and greedy petrochemical companies—the genesis of plastics—are doubling down on the lie that we can recycle our way out of the mess big plastic polluters have made all over planet Earth.

We need an ambitious, binding global treaty that will keep plastic out of nature, of course, but will also address other impacts of plastic production, use, and disposal, such as human health, climate breakdown, and environmental justice. We need to tackle this problem at the source, and that means reducing plastic production. An effective treaty will move us away from throwaway plastic, and incentivize the shift to reuse, refill, and package free approaches.

In addition to campaigning for the treaty people and the planet urgently need, Greenpeace USA is urging the State Department to stop undermining efforts to end U.S. exports of plastic waste to the Global South. In January, a global ban on dumping waste on developing countries went into effect—but the United States still hasn’t ratified it.

We’re also calling on the Department of Energy to stop fueling the plastic pollution crisis. 99% of plastic is made from fossil fuels, but the DOE is backing so-called chemical recycling, a mythical false solution that cannot solve the plastic pollution crisis. It’s time to Break Free from Plastic and put a stop to the petrochemical industry’s expansion plans.

Finally, we’re demanding the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Agency do their jobs. Toxic chemicals are regularly added to plastic used for packaging, and can leach into our food and drinks. The EPA and the FDA need to stop cowing to pressure from the petrochemical industry and get serious about protecting us from chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, or immune deficiencies.

If it weren’t for opposition from the petrochemical lobby we would already be into our second year of treaty negotiations. This delay will cost lives and further harm ecological systems that are already approaching a breaking point. Ultimately, whether we end up with the kind of treaty we need or not, and whether we get it done quickly or let the process drag on for years, is up to all of us.

The failure of the Biden Administration to act on plastic pollution is a dumpster fire for the planet. In August, Greenpeace USA brought a flaming dumpster to tour Washington D.C. to demand President Biden act on tackling our plastic crisis at home and endorse a Global Plastics Treaty NOW.

John Hocevar

Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director

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Greedy Fossil Fuel Companies Killing the Planet Are Desperate to Keep Picking Our Pockets

By John Noël

In response to the oil and gas industry’s attempts to preserve access to billions in federal subsidies, Greenpeace USA took a closer look at the membership of the American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC).

Greenpeace analysis revealed that the oil and gas companies that are members of the AXPC received major federal subsidies valued at least $92 billion since 1998, racked up hundreds of millions in environmental and other fines since 2000, took millions more in the recent COVID-19 bailout packages, laid off workers, and lavished CEOs with extravagant pay in 2020.

The oil and gas industry works through trade associations to shield its member companies and executives from scrutiny. An Exxon senior federal lobbyist appears to reveal this strategy to the world in a Channel 4 and Unearthed news story:

“We don’t want it to be us, to have these conversations, especially in a hearing. It’s getting our associations to step in and have those conversations and answer those tough questions and be, for the lack of a better term, the whipping boy for some of these members of Congress.”

The oil industry is desperately trying to preserve its favorable tax treatment as an intense campaign to eliminate billions of dollars in oil and gas subsidies gains momentum. AXPC deployed a big PR campaign and lobbying blitz to convince policymakers to cave to oil industry demands and abandon a core priority of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

The Stockholm Environment Institute recently published a pair of studies looking at the impact of a range of U.S. oil and gas subsidies. This research found that when oil prices are higher, subsidies tend to pad company profits, whereas when oil prices are lower, the subsidies can push marginal drilling projects over the threshold into profitability, thereby increasing production.

The fossil fuel industry is trading short-term profits for the health and safety of the planet. Increased oil and gas production means extracting, refining, and burning fossil fuels and poisoning the air and water of nearby communities, which are disproportionately Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor.

Air pollution from fossil fuels killed 8.7 million people globally in 2018 alone. In the United States, air pollution from burning fossil fuels is linked to an estimated 350,000 deaths every year, with disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

Subsidies to companies that poison our communities are clearly out of step with climate justice and the global consensus to end fossil fuel expansion and mount a legitimate response to the crisis. Lawmakers must stay united, overcome the Big Oil propaganda and pressure campaign, and deliver common-sense climate policy during our collective “code red moment for humanity.” It is time to end fossil fuel subsidies. Full stop.

Damning Quotes from the Exxon Tapes—and How We Fight Back

Earlier this year the UK news network Channel 4 and Unearthed released footage that appears to show Exxon lobbyists admitting to their past and present involvement in undermining climate science and watering down federal solutions to address the climate crisis.

In case you missed it, here are a few notable quotes from the news story.

“When you have an opportunity to talk to a member of Congress, I liken it to fishing, right? You know you have bait, you throw that bait out.”

In 2020, the oil, gas, and coal industry spent more than $115 million lobbying Congress in defense of fossil fuel subsidies; currently, the industry receives 15 billion of our tax dollars in direct federal subsidies every year. All told, that amounts to a return on investment of over 13,000% for these corporations annually.

They seem to be flaunting the misinformation campaign that contributed to delayed climate action:

“Did we aggressively fight against some of the [climate] science? Yes … Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true.”

In 1978, James Black of Exxon’s Research & Engineering division wrote an internal briefing paper entitled “The Greenhouse Effect,” outlining that anthropogenic emissions could raise global temperatures and result in serious harms to the planet and humanity. Black even warned Exxon that the timeframe for climate action was narrow. That analysis was published 43 years ago. In the intervening decades, Exxon has repeatedly mobilized to fight against climate science, despite their long-held knowledge internally that they were actively perpetuating environmental damage. Exxon knew. And together, we can hold the oil giant accountable.

“It’s going to accelerate the transition to the extent that I think 4 years from now it’s going to be difficult to unwind that.”

If there’s a silver lining in these quotes, it’s this: an admission that if climate provisions are successfully passed and implemented as part of the Biden administration’s agenda, it will be hard for fossil fuel producers like Exxon to roll back new standards.

We must stop fossil fuel companies from continuing to undermine our democracy and get in the way of real climate solutions. Congress must represent the people, not Big Oil, and enact climate provisions that are essential to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

John Noël

Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner

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© Lu Guang / Greenpeace

Extractive Industries Are Destroying the Amazon Rainforest and Threatening Indigenous Lands and Lives

By Diana Ruiz

Shocking aerial photos captured by Greenpeace Brazil this summer showed large-scale, illegal fires clearing land in the Amazon for three years in a row. Satellite data also confirmed that thousands of fires were burning at the end of July, the same month a new study in Nature revealed parts of the Amazon now emit more carbon than they absorb.

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration have an explicit anti-Indigenous agenda and anti-environment agenda. To date, Bolsonaro’s actions have encouraged the invasion of land grabbers, miners, and loggers on Indigenous territories The burning and clearing of the Amazon rainforest in areas recognized as public lands has been enabled by two and a half years of sabotaging environmental enforcement in Brazil, and encouraged by a Congress that is using emergency powers to vote on new laws that would reward and legitimize these sorts of land grabbing practices.

Landgrabbers, and the mining and agribusiness sectors, see Indigenous Peoples’ rights as an obstacle to endless expansion. The result is the companies sourcing from these areas and the financing of agricultural expansion in Brazil continue to treat such dangerous trends as normal while profiting from an environment of recklessness and exploitative practices. People must come before profits!

Indigenous Peoples, across the Amazon and communities in Brazil’s critical biomes from the Cerrado to the Pantanal wetlands, are on the front lines of the fight against irreversible climate breakdown. The UN estimates that the land that Indigenous Peoples live on is home to 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity—carbon-absorbing biodiversity that is crucial in the global fight against climate change.

If Indigenous lands in the world’s largest rainforest are opened up for large scale industrial agriculture and mining, we will all struggle to bring climate change under control. Amidst the “code red” climate emergency, we cannot afford to lose the Amazon.

For decades, the Greenpeace global network has worked to protect forests from commercial exploitation through our hard-hitting exposés, direct communications targeting corporations, and lobbying governments—including our own. The U.S. government has remained silent on the assault of Indigenous rights in Brazil and the legislative agenda that will accelerate the destruction of the Amazon and its people.

Greenpeace USA is campaigning for the U.S. to address its own role in global deforestation and human rights violations both through its import and consumption of forest-and-ecosystem risk commodities, and this includes the U.S. promotion and finance of its expansions overseas. We must take rapid action to denounce the attacks against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, uphold their land rights, and end the destruction of the Amazon.

The time for action is now: Tell U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry that the U.S. government must speak out and confront Bolsonaro’s anti-Indigenous and anti-environment agenda.

Diana Ruiz

Greenpeace USA Senior Forest Campaigner

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© Leandro Cagiano / Greenpeace

Meet Ebony Twilley Martin

By Tyler Kruse

Greenpeace USA is pleased to announce that Ebony Twilley Martin has joined Annie Leonard as Co-Executive Director of the organization. With the appointment, Twilley Martin makes history as the first Black woman executive director of a national legacy environmental organization in the United States.

Twilley Martin joined Greenpeace in 2013 and quickly established herself as a champion for justice and equity. As Chief Operating Officer, Twilley Martin overhauled the organization’s recruitment and compensation practices, instituted new policies against sexual harassment, and contributed to the hiring and promotion of the largest number of BIPOC managers and leaders in Greenpeace USA history.

Twilley Martin and Leonard will share the responsibility of managing all of Greenpeace’s U.S. operations. The Greenpeace USA Board of Directors established the new co-leadership model to create a more sustainable position that can better serve the organization’s employees, supporters, and the creation of a greener and more peaceful world.

“I am humbled and energized to join Annie in co-leading Greenpeace at such a pivotal time,” said Ebony Twilley Martin.

“The environmental challenges we face are enormous–a point that Hurricane Ida has underscored when it slammed into Louisiana’s coast, a site of longstanding environmental health and justice struggles and now on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

To address these intersecting crises, we have to build a strong and diverse organization, which is part of a diverse and strong movement. That’s what I am doing—what I want to be a part of. Annie and I believe that our multiracial shared leadership will model the change we wish to see in the movement and in the world. My priority is to make sure that Greenpeace is talking to people like me about why and how we have to act now on the climate, and making the world a safer, more equitable place for our children.”

Tyler Kruse

Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist

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© Greenpeace

Victories for People and the Planet Over Corporate Profits

Santos Bights the Dust

In a momentous win for our Aussie colleagues who relentlessly campaigned for years, Santos and Murphy Oil announced they are abandoning plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight. BP, Chevron, and Norwegian oil giant Equinor have all abandoned their plans, and now only Bight Petroleum remains with intentions to drill for oil in the Bight—however its last plans were knocked back by the regulator earlier this year, adding momentum to the ongoing campaign to protect Australia’s wild whale sanctuary.

Greenland Ends New Oil Exploration

Saying that “the price of oil extraction is too high,” government officials announced the suspension of all new oil and gas exploration. Kalistat Lund, the country’s Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment, said that the government “takes climate change seriously. We can see the consequences in our country every day, and we are ready to contribute to global solutions to counter climate change.” A terrific win for our climate and Earth’s future!

Spain Ends Uranium Mining

After a decade of mobilizations, Greenpeace Spain and allies celebrate that the Nuclear Safety Council denied the authorization to build the uranium concentrates manufacturing plant in Retortillo (Salamanca), due to the low reliability and great uncertainties of the safety analysis of the radioactive facility in geotechnical and hydrogeological aspects as well as the numerous deficiencies throughout the evaluation. This decision marks the end of the mining project of the company Berkeley Minera España, SL in Salamanca and, with it, the end of uranium mining in Spain—a big victory for people and the environment!

European Central Bank Takes Climate Action

The European Central Bank (ECB) has agreed that soon only companies in line with the Paris climate agreement will be eligible for corporate sector asset purchases. In its new monetary strategy, the bank recognizes the overall impact of climate change and commits to stay in line with the EU’s climate goals and objectives, although Greenpeace offices warned that the implementation period should be accelerated to respond to the escalating climate crisis. The new policy makes the ECB the first large central bank to prepare the ground to meet the EU’s climate objectives. Progress!

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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]

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Co-Executive Directors

Annie Leonard

Ebony Twilley Martin

Editorial Staff

Editor in Chief

Allison Gates

Development Editors

Elizabeth Bennett
Rogelio Ocampo

Editorial Staff

Photo Editor

Tim Aubry

Designers

Blair Miltenberger
Diego Johansen

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