It took two years of relentless campaigning and nearly 700,000 concerned people from around the world, but today we are sharing the good news that together we convinced the world’s largest tuna company to clean up its act!
Tuna giant Thai Union, which owns brands such as John West, Chicken of the Sea, Petit Navire, Mareblu, and Sealect, has committed to a series of changes to its business that will help to protect seafood workers, reduce destructive fishing practices, and increase support for more sustainable fishing. This marks a major shift for the corporation, and sends a signal to the entire fishing industry to do better for the oceans and seafood industry workers.
Greenpeace volunteers label John West tuna cans with "THIS IS NOT JUST TUNA" in a Tesco store to raise awareness of the #JustTuna campaign.
How did this happen?
As the world’s biggest tuna producer, one in five cans of tuna sold globally are canned by Thai Union. Greenpeace’s global campaign to transform the tuna industry has included targeting its brands for several years through tuna rankings, along with assessments of foodservice companies, supermarkets, and other brands supplied by the company.
Almost two years ago, we launched a global campaign, calling on Thai Union to bring the tuna industry out of the shadows where a cycle of overexploitation, devastation and appalling labour practices flourish in the name of profit. Alongside our allies, unions, concerned members of the public and our supporters, we pushed the company toward a brighter future for our oceans, seafood workers and ocean-dependent communities.
From our ships on the high seas, to supermarkets, industry conferences, and company headquarters, thousands of people including massive labour unions and human rights organizations joined our call for Thai Union to source more sustainably and responsibly. Together, we pushed companies supplied by Thai Union to sell better products and commit to policies that help workers and our oceans, including tackling practices like transshipment that fuel illegal activity and human rights abuses.
Greenpeace activists delivered a global petition, representing over 680,000 individuals, calling on Thai Union for more sustainable tuna.
So how has Thai Union changed?
Thanks to the mounting pressure, starting immediately, the company will begin making the following changes across its global business.
Reduce fish aggregating device (FAD) use by an average of 50%, and double supply of verifiable FAD-free caught fish globally by 2020. FADs are floating objects that create mini ecosystems and result in the catch and killing of many marine species, including sharks, turtles, and juvenile tuna.
Shift significant portions of longline caught tuna to best practice pole and line or troll caught tuna by 2020 and implement strong requirements in place to help reduce bycatch. Longline vessels are known for catching and killing non-target species like seabirds, turtles, and sharks.
Extend its current moratorium on at-sea transshipment across its entire global supply chain unless strict conditions are met by suppliers. Transshipment at sea enables vessels to continue fishing for months or years at a time and facilitates illegal activity.
Ensure independent observers are present on all longline vessels transshipping at sea to inspect and report on potential labour abuse, and ensure human or electronic observer coverage across all tuna longline vessels it sources from. Much of the abuse that plagues fishing vessels takes place out of sight without authorities to report to.
Develop a comprehensive code of conduct for all vessels in its supply chains to help ensure workers at sea are being treated humanely and fairly, beginning in January 2018.
An audit will be conducted by an independent third party next year to measure progress, and in the meantime, we will all be watching and waiting for positive results.
Greenpeace crew retrieve a FAD in the Indian Ocean
Calling on other major tuna buyers
Thai Union cannot and should not be taking this on alone. Not only will the vessels catching the fish need to fully cooperate for these commitments to turn into real action and positive change, but all major buyers and sellers of tuna need to recognize that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Supporting more sustainable and socially responsible fisheries, particularly those that are small-scale, is an essential part of any sound tuna sourcing policy. Customers should not have to choose between bad or better, all tuna should be responsibly-caught to help address the oceans’ overfishing crisis.
Thai Union’s commitment is not the end of the story to transform the fishing industry, but the continuation of a growing movement to stop out of control companies from wreaking havoc on ocean ecosystems and people’s lives. We need to continue to hold companies accountable and all do our part to reduce the threats to our oceans.
Sarah King is the Senior Oceans Strategist at Greenpeace Canada.
Want to help protect our oceans and push for better tuna fisheries? Urge your favourite brand or supermarket to ensure it’s sourcing more responsibly-caught tuna, avoid brands poorly rated in Greenpeace’s tuna rankings, eat less tuna to help struggling populations to recover, and when in doubt, choose vegan “tuna”- yes, that’s a thing!
Help us take the fight to the rest of the seafood industry and support all of Greenpeace’s important campaign work here.
Today at the UN Headquarters in New York, a global treaty banning nuclear weapons has been adopted.
This is an historic moment: according to the treaty, to possess and develop nuclear weapons is now illegal under international law.
Activists release peace doves during the Hiroshima atomic bombing 60th anniversary. (2005)
The treaty will be open for signature by states on September 20th.
Over the last three weeks, 140 countries have engaged in final negotiations of the new treaty. The nine states with nuclear weapons (US, Russia, China, France, UK, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) have been boycotting the meeting in an attempt to rob the process of its legitimacy. NATO members have also stayed outside of the negotiations, and on the wrong side of history. Their absence is sadly significant; unless a country ratifies the treaty, it is not bound by it.
And yet, despite the efforts by nuclear armed states and those supporting them to derail negotiations, a significant milestone has been reached: the vast majority of UN member states have now declared that weapons intended to inflict catastrophic humanitarian harm are prohibited under international law. Up until today, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited in a comprehensive and universal manner. Biological weapons, chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have all been previously banned and today, nuclear weapons joins this list of shame.
Voting on the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, UN, July 7, 2017 © Xanthe Hall / ICAN
The new treaty will make it harder for their proponents to describe nuclear weapons as a legitimate and useful means to provide security. It creates a global norm against nuclear weapons. This new norm will not only put pressure on nuclear-armed and non-nuclear weapon states to reject nuclear weapons permanently, it could also set the stage for future progress towards the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in nuclear armed states, should their domestic political situation change (read more about this here).
The text of the new treaty is blatantly clear: it prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, or acquiring nuclear weapons; It prohibits states from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It prohibits states from allowing any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons in their territory. Read the full text here.
Greenpeace salute our civil society allies, led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) who have been relentless campaigning to make this treaty - which was thought of as wild fantasy when it was first proposed - into a legal reality. We join their call for all governments to ratify the new treaty and join hands in ridding the world of this evil, and now illegal, human invention.
When future generation look back on today’s decision, they will hopefully remember it as the moment when, finally, nuclear weapons were considered as a threat to security, not an avenue to it. From today onwards, the struggle will continue for the treaty to be ratified by all the world’s governments and for the thousands of nuclear weapons still in existence around the world, to be eliminated. It will be a long road but with a strong nuclear ban treaty in place confirming that nuclear weapons are illegal, today is a good day for peace.
Lyle Thurston, ship doctor on the first Greenpeace voyage, departing Vancouver in 1971, to halt nuclear tests in Amchitka Island.
Jen Maman is the Senior Peace Adviser at Greenpeace International
In May this year, two brothers, Vázquez and Agustín Torres, were murdered near Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico. They were Wixárika (Huichol) leaders, working to preserve their land from incursion by cattle ranchers and drug cartels. This tragedy of greed and corruption serves as an alarm bell for activists attempting to preserve our natural world.
Murdered Wixárika leader, Miguel Vázquez Torres (photo by Nelson Denman)
The worldwide crisis on Indigenous land is as urgent as climate change or biodiversity loss. Approximately 400 million Indigenous peoples, with 5,000 distinct cultures, represent most of the world’s cultural diversity. Their land is threatened by mining and logging companies, ranchers and farmers, oil exploration, and now by the drug cartels too.
In spite of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, few nations actually recognise the land rights of Indigenous peoples. Their land is lost to resource extraction without legally mandated prior informed consent. Since Indigenous lands contain vast biological diversity, these communities are fighting not only to preserve their cultures but also to preserve what is left of Earth's wild ecosystems.
Political capital in Mexico
Miguel Vázquez Torres, commissioner of Wixárika public lands, and Agustín, an attorney in the land claim battle, were members of the Indigenous San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlán community. They led a campaign to recover 10,000 hectares, a meagre 4% of Wixárika ancestral lands. They had invited ranchers to engage in peaceful dialogue and had asked the Mexican government to provide security to avoid violence while resisting the cartels.
Drug cartels now infiltrate Wixárika land, seeking remote regions to grow illegal crops. In 2001, drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán confiscated Wixárika land for cannabis plantations. After El Chapo was captured in 2014, the Sinaloa and Nueva Generación (New Generation) cartels took over, and poppy plantations replaced marijuana, serving the US heroin market. Since ranchers and drug dealers shared the desire to eliminate Wixárika resistance, some believe the two groups collaborated in the violence.
During European colonisation, the 240,000-hectare Wixárika territory on the west coast of Mexico was confiscated, primarily by ranchers. Armed settlers, often assisted by police, have resisted Wixárika efforts to retrieve their land.
Wixárika community during reoccupation of ancestral lands, Sept. 22, 2016 (photo by Abraham Pérez)
After a 50-year struggle, Nayarit courts ruled to return 10,000 hectares of land to the Wixárika. Vázquez Torres set up a dialogue to ease the fear of ranchers and petitioned the government to create a transfer fund for ranchers, to avoid violence. When the government refused the fund and failed to provide security for the scheduled transfer, Wixárika leaders mobilized 1,000 community members to occupy a single abandoned farm.
Angry ranchers established roadblocks, trapping court officials, journalists and the Wixárika. Public lands commissioner, Santos Hernandez revealed that officials were afraid to travel in the region due to the threat of violence. "They [ranchers and cartels] are watching all of us and our families,” he told the Center For World Indigenous Studies. In January 2017, Isidro Baldenegro, an environmental leader in the Tarahumara community, was gunned down in Chihuahua.
In the Mexican Congress, House Minority Speaker Clemente Castañeda's resolution for government security in the Nayarit/Jalisco region passed into law in February 2017, but to no avail. The government stalled. In May, Vázquez and Agustín Torres were shot and killed.
“We solicited the governor of the state," said Fela Pelayo, head of Jalisco congressional commission for Indigenous Affairs. "We said that the situation was delicate, and ... now, after eight months of inaction, we have two Indigenous leaders dead.”
“Indigenous people don’t represent political capital for the political parties," Vázquez Torres told a journalist before he was killed; "that’s why they don’t have us on their agendas.”
The human family
Munduruku mother and her children in the Amazon
All around the world, Indigenous people are fighting to protect their land. From the Sami in Scandinavia, to the Ainu of Hokkaidō in the Sea of Japan; from Tibetans and Mongolians occupied by China, to the Degar and Khmer Krom in Vietnam; from the Balinese, Sasak, Nuaulu and over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia, to the Arctic Inuit, and thousands more on every continent.
Over 60 uncontacted tribal peoples remain in the Brazilian Amazon. Protecting their independence would also preserve millions of hectares of tropical rainforest. In the 1950s, land belonging to Guarani and Kaiowa peoples were sold for plantations. Reduced to living in poverty in cities and settlements, the suicide rate among Indigenous Peoples rose to 22 times that of other Brazilian citizens. When Guarani and Kaiowa people returned to live on their ancestral land in 2004, loggers, ranchers and farmers attacked them. In 2011, elder Nizio Gomes was shot and killed.
In 1964, Texaco (now Chevron), discovered oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They began drilling in 1967. Twenty-five years later, they left behind a nightmare of contaminated water and land, causing rates of cancer to increase among the Indigenous population. The Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani peoples launched a 30,000 member class-action lawsuit against Texaco in 1993. In 2014, after 20 years in court, the plaintiffs won a $9.5 billion judgement in Ecuador's highest court. Chevron bought Texaco, left Ecuador, and refused to pay the judgement. The case was dismissed in a US court, but earlier this year the case against Chevron moved to Canada. Chevron has spent $2 billion on lawyers to defend themselves, but not one cent has gone to their Indigenous victims.
The Guarani and Wichi people of Argentina have survived conquistadors, slave traders, missionaries, juntas and death squads. In 2004, they took on big business too. The governor of Salta, in northern Argentina, Juan Carlos Romero, granted permission to bulldoze and burn 18,000 hectares of previously protected forest for soy plantations, on behalf of agribusiness giants Monsanto and Cargill. The Wichi and Guarani people invited Greenpeace to help them restore their homeland.
In Argentina, a forest area the size of a football pitch disappears every three minutes.
I travelled to Argentina in the summer of 2005 for the campaign and witnessed an entire horizon ablaze with fires. Ranks of bulldozers swept across the land like wartime tank divisions, obliterating the home of the Wichi people and the homes of fox, tapir, ocelot, jaguar, anteaters, wild pigs, toucan, raptors and parrots.
When the Wichi and Greenpeace occupied bulldozers and gained media attention, prominent celebrities stepped forward, including football star Diego Maradona, who invited Wichi elders onto his television show. In October, 2006, Argentina’s president, Néstor Carlos Kirchner, finally intervened to preserve the Wichi homeland. "We asked the president to put people and the forest ahead of multinational corporations," said Guarani campaigner Noemi Cruz. "For once, we won.”
Political economists rationalise seizing Indigenous land for industrial development with the theory that this will lift people from poverty. In reality, industrial resource extraction drives people from modest, secure lives in productive ecosystems into poverty in urban slums, while the money flows to rich developers and multinational corporations.
Violence against Indigenous peoples reveals the limitations, perhaps complete failure, of the World Bank and free-trade economic theories. Globalisation has not benefited masses of people, but has widened the gap between rich and poor. The challenge of 21st century society remains to discover a credible, honourable balance among economy, ecology and social justice.
Indigenous leaders receive the Equator Prize during the COP21 in Paris
During the 2015 climate conference, a gathering of Indigenous leaders - Sami, Mongolian, Lakota, Salish and others - met outside Paris in the town of Millemont. In a statement to world leaders on "The Critical State of Our Mother Earth," they wrote:
"Our sacred Mother Earth – who gives life to all living things – is critically wounded, degraded, poisoned and depleted by the misguided activity of our human family. Colonialism, industrialism, consumerism and warfare are primary drivers of this relentless assault on our beloved Mother Earth...
“We must remind ourselves and our Human Family, through living, sacred prayers, songs, ceremony and our ancient prophecies, that Mother Earth is our sacred provider of life, not to be treated as an endless storehouse, a limitless dump for our waste, and to satisfy our appetite for the material dimension of life."
Wixárika leaders and brothers, Vázquez and Agustín Torres, gave their lives for this sacred prayer.
Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.
Resources and Links:
2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: UN
Cartels: "En territorio huichol la siembra de amapola desplaza a la de cannabis," La Jornada
State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, 2010: UN report
Guarani-Kaiowa in Brazil, death of Nizio Gomes: Toronto Globe and Mail
Colombian army and settlers killing Guahibo people: London, New York Times News Service, 1973. British Petroleum buying army in Colombia: New York Times, 1996.
Paraguay genocide and slave trade: The Nation, Sept 24, 1973; Akwesasne Notes, Autumn, 1976; and Nationalia, June 2017
BP are at it again.
The company that devastated the Gulf of Mexico with its Deepwater Horizon disaster wants to drill for oil near the pristine Amazon Reef. What could possibly go wrong? 🤔
Home to pink corals, sunset-coloured fish and over 60 species of sea sponge, the Reef has been described as an ‘underwater rainforest’ near the mouth of the Amazon River - and we’re only just discovering how special it is.
But if BP’s extreme drilling causes a spill, it could spell disaster for the Reef and the wider area. We can’t let this happen.
So starting today, we’re turning up the pressure on BP - working together to defend the Reef from risky, spill-prone oil drilling.
And now we’ve got some help from an unlikely source. The Amazon Reef has a new champion - a celebrity advocate who’ll stand up to BP and fight for justice.
His name? Spongebob Squarepants.
WATCH + SHARE THE VIDEO
(Or watch on Youtube)
As a lifelong coral reef resident, Spongebob knows all about caring for our oceans - and he’s got plenty of campaigning experience too. And with over 60 species of sea sponge living on the Amazon Reef, for him this is personal.
So check out the video and share it far and wide - it’s a fun way to introduce new people to the campaign, and definitely not your run-of-the-mill Greenpeace message!
But the video is just the start. Over the next few weeks, we’ll work together to expose BP’s reckless drilling plan, and put pressure on them to leave the Amazon Reef in peace.
If you’re in, make sure you join the campaign at amazonreefs.org.
Mal Chadwick is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace UK
Would you put your body on the line to stop some of Europe’s oldest trees from being cut down? That’s what hundreds of activists are doing to protect the Białowieża Forest in Poland.
This forest is unique. It’s one of the last remaining parts of the immense ancient forest that once stretched across all of lowland Europe. It sits on the eastern border of Poland and stretches into Belarus.
It’s one of only 4 European forests on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But only 35% is protected from logging.
Last year, the Polish environment minister (and former forester), Jan Szyszko, allowed a threefold increase in logging in the Bialowieza Forest. Even worse, in 2017 he amended the country's law to effectively remove any any kind of control over cutting trees on private lands as well as forests governed by National Forest Holding. This resulted in massive logging all over the country. State-managed forests are no longer obligated to follow EU regulation on the legal protection of species.
European bison in Bialowezia forest by Adam Wajrak
Scientists estimate that Białowieża is home to between 11,000 and 25,000 species. It’s hard to get exact numbers; many remain undiscovered. It’s one of the last places you can find European bison, lynx and rare birds in their natural habitat.
Increased logging not only violates European regulations, it violates our right to the common heritage of this ancient and precious forest. It is illegal in terms of EU law and ignores Poland’s commitments to UNESCO.
Sometimes, you just have to chain yourself to some forestry machines to protect what’s important. Greenpeace Poland and Wild Poland activists have peacefully blockaded the logging areas five times in the last five weeks. They successfully stopped the machines from cutting down some of the most precious tree stands that have been growing for over 100 years.
Last weekend, over 5,000 people marched through Warsaw in the biggest environmental demonstration Poland has ever seen. More and more people keep showing up to defend the forest, from across the region. Two weeks ago, over 800 people broke into the logging area to march through the forest as a sign of civil disobedience.
We will not let this ancient and fragile ecosystem be cut down for profit. We won’t stop resisting until the entire forest is recognised as a National Park, like it is in neighbouring Belarus.
Show the Polish government that the world is watching. Add your support here: ilovebialowieza.com
Marianna Hoszowska is the Head of Communications for Greenpeace Poland
Three people, dressed in protective clothing, are standing on the bank of the Szamos River that separates Hungary from Romania. A Hungarian, a Romanian and a Slovak. It’s 30ºC. The air isn’t moving, sweat drips down their backs. But the chemical sampling must be carried out. Locals have signaled that there is something wrong with the river, yet the authorities are slow and reluctant to react. Greenpeace has been called in because we have the technology and scientific know-how to conduct water tests in a professional credible way.
Pollution of the Szamos River is just one example of the kind of cross-border environmental disasters that an international organisation like Greenpeace is tackling every day. But as a new law comes into effect in Hungary, work like this may be at risk: Greenpeace Hungary and other groups that receive support from people outside the country, as well as inside, are being labelled as ‘foreign funded NGOs’. The need for solidarity is great.
Waging struggles for a healthy environment together with 4,000 colleagues, 40,000 volunteers and 42 million supporters — across five continents and in 55 countries from Argentina to the Philippines — is an incredibly uplifting and empowering experience. I never lose sight of the fact that we are not alone but joined with millions of others working to achieve common goals: cleaner air, soil, water and food.
This international strength is now being stigmatised in Hungary. A law on “the transparency of organisations funded from abroad” enters into force on 27 June. This law is unprecedented in the European Union and demands that a number of civil society groups, including Greenpeace, register as foreign-funded organisations.
To enable the continuity of our work, Greenpeace Hungary will follow the special registration procedure set out in the law. But we will fight this law, using all legal means. This is an unnecessary and harmful piece of legislation that violates Hungary's treaty obligations under international law, and can threaten all who work for the well-being of the people and the planet.
We are thankful to have the whole organisation behind us in the midst of all this turmoil. From the US to South-Korea, from Argentina to China, from India to Russia, Greenpeace offices are standing in solidarity. We feel the power of this unity, the same power that enables us to fight for clean air, clean soil and clean oceans that we and future generations depend on.
Hungary cannot be left out of the global environmental movement that we have been building. We owe this to our 8,500 Hungarian donors, to our tens of thousands of Hungarian followers, to humanity and to the Earth. It is our responsibility to both enable Hungarians to take part in global action for a healthy planet and to invite international support against domestic pollution. Hungarians expect us to continue our struggle for a cleaner environment, both inside and outside Hungary’s borders.
With the onslaught of the global climate crisis, this work is more relevant and urgent than ever. As part of a global organisation, Greenpeace Hungary will muster all its strength to help push the international community to take decisive action to honour the pledges enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement. And we will push the Hungarian government to implement agricultural, energy and transport policies that are in line with Hungary’s pledges and obligations. We are proud to be able to rely on both Hungarian and foreign experts, volunteers and funds to be effective in our work. Because protecting the Earth knows no borders.
Hajnalka Schmidt is the Director of Greenpeace Hungary
Imagine a world where your electronic gadgets would last, or a place where your devices could be easily repaired. Imagine all the money saved!
...But we know that world is purely imaginary, because unfortunately, the growing trend among major IT brands is to make our phones and other devices more difficult to repair and maintain.
Greenpeace in partnership with US-based company iFixit, has just assessed over 40 of the most popular smartphones, tablets and laptops from the past two years, to see how easily companies are allowing consumers the access to repair or make spare parts and repair manuals available.
This is what we found:
1. Devices are purposefully made difficult to repair and maintain
Replacing memory or upgrading the hard drive isn’t as easy as it used to be. Why? Because pieces are soldered onto the board, making repair even harder. Some of LG and Samsung´s latest smartphones alongside Apple's laptops are example of this type of design.
2. Believe it or not, some phones are becoming more fragile than sturdy
Hands up if you’ve ever broken your phone. Annoying right? A major reason is that they are largely made of glass, and while electronic manufacturers have introduced stronger types of glass over the years, cracked screens are still endemic. In fact, most of the new generation phones are being built with expansive glass front, making them more prone to breaking. For example, Samsung’s latest S8, designed with edge to edge glass on the front and back, has been called “the most fragile’ phone ever made”.
3. Batteries are harder to replace
Remember the infamous exploding Samsung Galaxy Note7? The company might have been able to avoid recalling millions of devices if the phone’s design had enabled easy battery removal. Unfortunately, nearly 70% of all devices we assessed had batteries that were impossible or difficult to replace, due to design decisions and the use of strong adhesives to affix the battery to the casing. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone and Apple’s Retina MacBook’s batteries are completely adhered to the device panels.
4. Accessing the tools to self-repair are hard to obtain
Even when repairing could be possible, it's very expensive and time consuming, and often special tools are required to work with proprietary screws and other parts. Apple’s iPhone, Oppo's R9m, and Huawei’s P9 are just some of the devices that require special tools to conduct repairs.
5. Repair manuals or spare parts aren't easily available to the public
Very few electronic manufacturers provide users with information about how to fix their products. Out of the 17 brands represented in our assessment, only three - Dell, Fairphone and HP - provide all spare parts and repair manuals.
Greenpeace volunteers group organises a smartphone repair event in Beijing, China where visitors can repair their smartphones.
So what environmentally friendly products can you buy?
A few best-in-class products we found, such as Fairphone, Dell and HP, show that designing with repairability in mind is possible.
Making devices that last longer and can be repaired is the most significant step that electronic brands can take to reduce the various environmental impacts associated with electronics manufacturing - from the extraction of virgin raw materials, the use of hazardous chemicals and large amounts of energy in manufacturing through to generation of millions of tonnes of e-waste every year.
After all, tech companies recruit some of the brightest minds on the planet, so why can’t they come up with something that takes into account our Earth’s limited resources?
Elizabeth Jardim is Senior Corporate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA
Together, we can change the system. Join hundreds of thousands around the world demanding that leading IT companies like Apple, Samsung and others rethink our tech, and design products that are longer-lasting, and that don’t cost the earth.
Join the movement to rethink technology! www.rethink-it.org
Behind closed doors and countless documents, details of a proposed deal between two of the world’s largest economies are being kept from us. Until now.
Chances are that the planned trade deal between the European Union and Japan has not been on top of your mind recently. And there is a reason for this. Governments have gone to great lengths to leave their citizens in the dark about a deal that can significantly impact our lives and the world we live in—with massive implications reaching from labour rights to environmental protection.
This is unacceptable. Which is why today Greenpeace Netherlands is releasing large parts of the secret EU-Japan deal.
Transparent public reading room for leaked TTIP documents, Berlin, 2 May, 2016
JEFTA, as it is commonly referred to, will ultimately affect the daily lives of more than 630 million European and Japanese citizens who until today’s leak have not been informed by their governments as to what exactly is being negotiated on their behalf.
Global trade has significant ramifications for environmental protection and climate change. How many, and what kind of products are traded and often shipped over long distances impacts our planet, as do the health, safety and environmental standards for these products. Which is why the rules governing such trade matter a great deal.
Uncovering what lies beneath JEFTA
The documents Greenpeace Netherlands released today show that JEFTA will mainly benefit large corporations at the expense of people and the planet. The agreement could make it harder for the EU and Japan to take the environmental measures necessary to reach their Paris Agreement obligations. For instance, the agreement will likely undermine efforts to reduce illegal logging around the world, including in Europe. With hardly any tangible or concrete commitments on environmental protection, JEFTA opens the door for corporate lobbyists to attack Europe’s environmental standards.
Greenpeace volunteers in Romania call on the government to protect the forest. 15 Aug, 2016
Over three million Europeans signed a petition calling for the end of special rights for foreign corporations, but prioritising investor protection is nevertheless part of JEFTA. Rather than having to make their case before domestic courts (like every one of us), the deal would grant foreign investors and corporations the possibility to use a separate court system. This would enable them to sue the state over environmental (or other) regulations that they don’t like. At the same time, the state or the public get no special rights to sue the corporations for labour and environmental violations. This undermines both democracy and the rule of law.
Activists at the European conference centre in Luxembourg call on ministers to reject CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). 18 Oct, 2016
A threat to our rights
JEFTA is a threat to our democratic rights, our health and environment. It is also a missed opportunity. The exchange of goods and services — but also of ideas — can help open and connect the world in a way that achieves social and environmental objectives that keep us within our planetary boundaries. Environmental treaties, human rights agreements, and international labour standards — with principles of equality and intergenerational responsibility at their heart — must guide trade rules, not be threatened by them.
If negotiators want to demonstrate that this agreement advances the public interest, they need to start by voluntarily publishing all the texts, enshrining social and environmental standards in the agreements. Above all they must not lose sight of the true end goal: trade as a means to achieve wellbeing for people and planet, not as an end in itself.
Shira Stanton is a Senior Political Strategist and Sebastian Bock is a Senior Business Strategist at Greenpeace International
More than half a million people have stood up for free speech and for the Canadian boreal forest, raising their voices to call on the largest global publishers to pay attention and be our allies.
We bound the signatures in a handmade book, along with dozens of photos of people in front of significant trees in their communities, showing how much the forest means to all of us. Thank you to each and every one of you that have joined this campaign so far and enabled us to represent people power in a physical object.
Seeing what 500,000 names looks like on page after page of a beautiful book is humbling. But it does not even begin to honour what half a million people around the world calling for the same thing can do.
Why we are speaking up
The largest global publishers, including Penguin Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette are buying paper for their books from Resolute Forest Products. This logging company is controversial to say the least. It logs in intact forests and threatened species’ habitat. It has lost environmental certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)on more than 6 million hectares of forestland. And it is suing environmental advocates like Greenpeace that believe the world has a right to know what it is doing.
Given the true weight of these books and the seriousness of the topic, we had hopes that the publishers receiving them would also see the gravity of the situation and be compelled to do something.
What the publishers had to say
Last Tuesday, Hachette Livre showed that they were ready to act. The third largest publisher in the world wrote an open letter to the CEO of Resolute Forest Products calling its legal attacks on free speech and environmental groups “excessive” asking whether there are not “other ways to deal with Greenpeace’s claims.” Hachette also recognised that it had made promises to its readers to only purchase sustainable paper and that Resolute needs to do better for the forest if it wants to continue to be Hachette’s supplier.
Unfortunately Hachette Livre’s leadership in taking this first step is not yet indicative of the entire publishing industry. So last week I visited publisher after publisher, all headquartered in New York City, to deliver the book with its 500,000 signatures to represent the power of the people calling for action.
First, we made a delivery to Macmillan in the historic Flatiron building. When we asked the CEO and other company representatives to plan for time to come accept the book, we were instructed to simply leave it with the security guard. They are trying to ignore the voices of 500,000, but for how long?
Next we handed over the book to Penguin Random House and received a respectable reception with someone who seemed to appreciate the book and what it represented. I have my fingers crossed that we'll be hearing good things from them again soon. The largest publisher in the world cannot ignore all of us. They cannot ignore the best science, or the promises they have made to their readers and choose inaction which is effectively choosing the side of corporate bullies and a sad future for free speech.
We then handed over the book to Simon & Schuster. Unfortunately in order to get the opportunity to hand over the book, I had to promise not to talk about it. So this is me not talking about it. But I can ensure you all that our continued voices are going to be vital with this one.
Lastly we headed to the headquarters of the second largest publisher in the world, HarperCollins. Sadly, 500,000 people are not enough to warrant a single person from the company to talk to us. We personally called the Vice President of Corporate Communications and the security guard called up to the front desk. We were once again refused. So our book lies with an uncertain future inside HarperCollins’ mailroom. But what is not uncertain is Greenpeace’s resolve to continue to insist that HarperCollins stands up for free speech and forests. We will not back down and we ask you all to continue to stand with us.
Our voices are vital
In the end, I felt humbled to have the opportunity to personally deliver these books and cannot thank you all enough for contributing to them. It is our voices that are vital for free speech and for forests. Greenpeace will continue to bravely face the biggest challenge to our 45 year-history with you all by our side. Lets see what the future holds and hope that a second volume of these books is not needed before publishers live up to the promises they have already made and start being part of the solution for healthy forests and free speech.
See the digital version of the book HERE
Amy Moas, Ph.D. is a Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace USA
When Resolute Forest Products, Canada’s largest logging company, threw two multi-million dollar lawsuits at Greenpeace and Stand.Earth for speaking out for the protection of the Canadian boreal forest, people around the world did not sit idly by.
In over 25 countries around the world, people took to the forest and their most iconic trees to send a message of unity and solidarity in the face of Resolute’s legal attempt to silence its critics and stifle freedom of speech.
From the tropics of Indonesia, people gathered in defense of the forests of Canada in front of a giant Kenari Babi tree to send their message to Resolute.
Drawing on the symbol of their national flag, a group in Lebanon sent their message from an ancient 3,000 year old cedar tree in the Shouf Biosphere Reserve.
From Germany, where the iconic beech forests form a part of their cultural heritage, hundreds of people gathered to tell Resolute that they will not be silenced.
Even when Resolute tries underhanded tactics to silence our voices, the forests and trees of the world unite us. Right now, the need for protecting our forests is more important than ever as they are hotbeds of biodiversity and store vast amounts of carbon that we can not afford to release into the atmosphere if we are to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius. And if nothing else, these lawsuits from Resolute show us that the right to speak out is more precious than ever and must be defended.
Nothing in nature acts in isolation. From the microscopic chains of fungi in the soil, to the complexities of the animal kingdom, even the earliest scientists observed the world as a vast interconnected ‘web of life’. And so too are we, as a global movement of people, united together for the protection of the forest and in defense of free speech everywhere.
Sign the petition to ask book publishers to defend the forests and free speech.
Ethan Gilbert is a mobilisation coordinator at Greenpeace Nordic.