Why 2017 Was the Year of Resistance
by Lauren Reid
December 21, 2017
Take a look back at the battles waged, victories won, and the collective resistance that defined 2017.
© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace
Perhaps no year in recent memory has been as tumultuous as 2017. The inauguration of Donald Trump set off resistance movements around the world, leading to immense pushback against the social and environmental injustices we witnessed daily. These have been inspiring events, and we are ready for the challenges ahead — decades of hard-won experience have made us fully prepared for these extraordinary times. Here’s a look back at the battles waged, victories won, and the collective resistance that defined 2017.
A year of people power
This year showed that people power is stronger and more resilient than ever before. The moment Greenpeace activists dropped the “RESIST” banner over the DC skyline in January, it was a pledge to defy and resist any attack to our environment and communities from the horrors of the new administration. Around the world, people stood up for the belief that there will always be more that unites us than tears us apart.
We asked you that day to resist, and resist often, and you did not disappoint.
From the inaugural boycotts, to the Woman’s March on Washington, the Climate March, to mass protests against the Muslim ban — we saw demonstrations around the world prove that we are more powerful when we work together to demand protection of our rights. It has been people like you who are the driving force behind meaningful and lasting change.
A year of legal battles
People vs. Arctic Oil
Three environmental organizations — Greenpeace, Nature and Youth and Grandparents Climate Campaign — brought a case against the Norwegian government this year, suing for the withdrawal of all new oil licenses in the Arctic. On top of the over 500,000 people worldwide who signed a petition in opposition to Arctic drilling, over 2,500 Norwegians donated funds toward the plaintiffs’ legal costs. Arguments centered around the tenet that new licenses violate the Norwegian Constitution by nullifying the rights each citizen has to a healthy environment for themselves and future generations. With the verdict expected early next year, winning this case could set a strong precedent for future climate cases to be successful.
Resolute Forest Products + Energy Transfer Partners
Greenpeace’s very existence was threatened this year when Resolute Forest Products and Energy Transfer Partners used Trump’s go-to law firm to attack us with unfounded lawsuits, in an effort to make sure our movement stops for good. Resolute Forest Products $300 million dollar SLAPP lawsuit was dismissed by a U.S. federal court judge in October, and in your support, you refused to be silenced. Our movement was vindicated when a California judge dismissed all of Resolute’s claims.
And despite that Energy Transfer Partner’s lawsuit is trying to ensure people stop fighting pipelines, we will push even harder against the claims, supporting the Indigenous-led movement which continues to protest the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline, and stand up to the Keystone XL pipeline — joining the swelling movement that’s been enormously successful in convincing financial institutions not to fund tar sands pipelines. You can help us to turn up the heat on national and international banking institutions by demanding they defund and subsequently divest from these pipelines.
A year of protecting communities, coast and climate
Greenpeace ships are at the heart of our activism, making it possible for us to witness, document and fight for what’s most at stake in our environment. This year, the historic Arctic Sunrise traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S. highlighting the threats posed to our communities, coasts and climate. Plastic pollution, seismic blasting and offshore drilling were the key threats to our ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean.
We felt your passion for these issues as we stopped in New York, Norfolk, Wilmington, and Miami — meeting thousands of you on board the ship. We witnessed communities coming together to fight plastic pollution by doing beach and river cleanups, using our plastic cleanup and toolkit. We did 21 microplastic trawls on our journey across the Atlantic Ocean, and in local rivers and bays at all of our stops. Sadly, there wasn’t a single trawl where we didn’t find microplastics. You shared photos and signed our petition to help us hold corporations responsible for their part of the plastic pollution crisis, and we are so grateful for your support — we need all hands on deck to solve this critical global issue.
The Arctic Sunrise also supported a group of researchers from across the U.S., to facilitate the recovery of acoustic monitoring equipment used to better understand the potential damage that seismic blasting and offshore drilling has on marine ecosystems.
We supported an effort led by the Climate Justice Alliance to deliver and distribute critical rebuilding supplies and expertise to rural communities in Puerto Rico. After the impacts of Hurricane Maria left the island devastated, we pledged to assist the region in a Just Recovery, helping to rebuild the island in a way that leaves communities more empowered, resilient, and sustainable in the years to come.
A year of victory for Tuna
Despite so much upheaval and uncertainty faced this year, we won a huge victory for our oceans, marine life, and against the unethical practices occurring in global fisheries and their supply chain. Thai Union, which produces over one-fifth of the world’s tuna products, announced a full-scale overhaul and commitment to long-term and sustainable fishing practices. They offered comprehensive and major changes which include:
- Reducing the number of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in its supply chains by an average of 50% by 2020.
- Shift major portions of caught longline tuna to pole and line or troll-caught tuna by 2020 and implement strong requirements in place to reduce bycatch.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive code of conduct ensuring workers at sea are being treated humanely and fairly.
- Extend its current moratorium on at-sea transshipment across its entire global supply chain unless new strict conditions are met by suppliers.
Thai Union’s commitment to transforming their role in the fishing industry was an incredible victory that shows that just, sustainable, and equitable world is possible — but only when we work together to make it happen.