Looking back at 2010

by Bill Richardson

December 21, 2010

As we approach the end of 2010 and look back on our work this past year, it is heartening to see great progress in Greenpeace’s efforts around the globe.

Often our progress gets lost in the enormity of our cause, by the fact that we are constantly working towards lofty and somewhat overwhelming goals such as achieving zero deforestation, stopping global warming and establishing 40 percent of the world’s oceans as protected marine reserves.  

But we also have to celebrate our victories, because they are the milestones, if you will, that mark our progress towards achieving our broader ambitions.  And we celebrate each victory — each milestone — with all of our supporters and allies who make everything we do possible.

2010 Successes

In 2010, we made great strides towards our goal of zero deforestation by transforming Nestlé, Burger King and HSBC (the world’s largest banking and financial services entity) from companies driving rainforest destruction in Indonesia to ones pioneering ambitious new practices to protect ancient forests.

We were also instrumental in forging an unprecedented agreement — the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement — that protects 280,000 square miles of public forests in one of North America’s most critical ecosystems.

We made progress towards our objective of protecting the world’s oceans when we convinced Trader Joe’s to “green-up their stores” by implementing sustainable seafood policies.  And we pressured the Obama administration to reverse its position on an International Whaling Commission proposal to repeal the global ban on commercial whaling — a reversal was instrumental in preventing the ban from being lifted.

We celebrated the aftermath of a strong coalition effort when the Vermont Senate voted to retire the aging Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant (and subsequently on election night when Vermonters confirmed the decision by electing the leader of that vote as their Governor).

The issue of global warming was in many ways defined by the tragic events in the Gulf of Mexico, as it turned the focus towards one of its root causes — oil.

Greenpeace quickly mobilized in the days following the BP Deepwater Disaster, and became a go-to source for journalists and reporters from around the world by “bearing witness” to the spill in ways only Greenpeace can.  

While there were of course many factors involved, we were greatly heartened when the Obama administration changed course in early December by announcing that it will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast for at least seven more years.  We were also encouraged when BP announced it has once again delayed drilling at its controversial “Liberty” project on Alaska’s north coast.  Greenpeace will continue to work diligently to ensure that this project is shelved for good.

We will also keep working to expose climate change deniers. Our report Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, catalyzed attention to the Koch connection to Tea Party politics and the resurgent right wing anti-government movement.  Media coverage included the New York Times blog and German and French press.  NewYorker magazine ran with our research and dug deeper doing a 10,000 word narrative that is now the most downloaded article ever on the NewYorker website. By November, the Koch’s were no longer the billionaires no one had heard or the largest private company no one knew — the Democratic party and the White House named them and progressive movement had a new icon of corporate power and corruption

Our success in 2010 adds to the Greenpeace legacy of game-changing victories that goes back to our humble beginnings in 1971, when a group of activists set sail for the coast of Alaska to protest nuclear testing.  It is with this in mind that we recently launched our new “victories” page on our website.

Please check it out, as it paints a good picture of what Greenpeace has meant to the world these past 39 years, and inspires us to become even more effective as we work to achieve our monumental (and somewhat quixotic) goals.  While we have accomplished a lot in the past year and over nearly four decades, there is of course much work that remains to be done.  With the continued support and help of those of you who share our vision for a healthy planet and sustainable future, we will build on our success and the momentum it provides to win even greater victories for the planet. 

Thank you for standing with us!

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