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Nothing Is Impossible

Facing the climate crisis with bold solutions and collective action

by Janet Redman

September 13, 2021

We’re pushing relentlessly for what science and justice demand to prevent the worst impacts of climate change

Just six years after Greenpeace set out on its very first voyage, Exxon Mobil began what would become a more than four-decade campaign of deceit and denial about the reality of climate change.

Consider that. From as early as 1977, fossil fuel executives knew that they were setting in motion a series of intersecting crises that put our planet at risk—and they chose to put their profits ahead of our future anyway.

Among the greatest challenges of the climate crisis is the feeling that it’s a threat that has grown too big to solve. It can feel like climate chaos is hitting us from all sides. Where I live in Washington, DC, the summer heatwaves are making air pollution so bad that some days it’s recommended we don’t go outside to exercise. And those beautiful bright red sunsets? Not so pretty when you realize they’re the result of smoke blowing across the country from western wildfires. As Hurricane Ida just reminded us, the devastation wrought by climate change is no longer someone else’s problem — it’s hitting people in New Orleans and New York.

Big challenges require bold solutions and collective action. That’s why, as Greenpeace commemorates 50 years of working toward a green and peaceful future, we’re pushing relentlessly for what science and justice demand to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. We are doing this together by standing with our allies, building people power in solidarity with our friends, and demanding a just tomorrow with our supporters.

What does that mean?

It means securing a just federal transition plan to responsibly manage a shift in the US economy away from fossil fuels that leaves no community or worker behind — ensuring wage replacement, healthcare, fully-funded pensions and finding new ways to fund critical public resources like schools and hospitals.

It means campaigning alongside the labor movement to create millions of good paying, family-sustaining, union jobs building the economy of the future around climate justice, care, a clean environment and healthy communities. We don’t want to simply stop the fossil fuel industry’s expansion. We want to create bold policies and programs that deliver a better future where everyone can thrive – especially Black, Indigenous and people of color on the frontlines of climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s pollution.

 

It means cleaning up toxic, dangerous, fossil fuel sites and infrastructure to reduce pollution and fully remediate those sites for future uses that are beneficial to the communities where they’re located.

 

It means envisioning a world fifty years from now, when Greenpeace turns 100, in which we’ve succeeded in kicking our dependence on toxic, anachronistic sources of energy. Where we have changed our economy to one that generates well-being rather than extracting value. Where meaningful and restorative work is plentiful, and we have lifted the health burden that hangs over too many communities.

In 1971, a small fishing boat set sail to do the impossible. For them, it was stopping a nuclear test on Amchitka island. For us, today, it’s winning lasting solutions to the climate crisis. There are ways of ensuring that workers are treated fairly and justly. There are means of addressing the harm that’s been caused in the past and to dismantle the systems of power and physical infrastructure that oppress the most vulnerable. There are pathways to new discoveries and solutions that will power cleaner, more sustainable cities and towns.

There is only one thing standing between us and the impossible. It’s having the will to stand up and take just one step forward. Then another. And then another.

This essay is part of our Perspectives: Our Next Fifty Years series, in which we reflect briefly on our first fifty years, but more importantly, we lay out the future we are building together—collaborative, ambitious, and intersectional. The work ahead won’t be easy, but we’ve never shied away from hard work. We continue to push for policies that recognize the contributions and leadership of marginalized groups, and we amplify their voices, looking to their wisdom to show us the way. We hold corporations accountable, demanding real action that puts people ahead of profit. We work each day with our partners to co-create green, safe planet for all beings. We recognize that equality is not necessarily justice. We demand more from our leaders, from our colleagues, and from ourselves. A green and peaceful world isn’t just a slogan—it is our mission, and it takes each one of us to get there.

Janet Redman

By Janet Redman

Janet Redman is the director of Greenpeace USA’s climate campaign, where she sets the strategic direction of the organization’s work to end the era of fossil fuels and create a more equitable future.

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