It’s Earth Day today! This global, annual event has been celebrated since the 70’s and is a chance to show your appreciation for environmental protection. Whether it’s campaigning for clean air, protecting forests and oceans or fighting against climate change, the planet needs our help. These pictures illustrate biodiversity and positive solutions and actions for protecting the environment.
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At one of the biggest wind farms in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 33 wind turbines are producing electricity equivalent to the power demands of 35,000 households per year. Fukushima has declared its ambition to become 100% renewable by 2040. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a Feed in Tariff scheme was installed in 2012. Since then renewable energy, mainly photovoltaic, has grown massively however.
© Guillaume Bression / Greenpeace 2016
A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), an endangered species.These short lived insects migrate to Mexico each year, but no single butterfly completes the return journey. Instead four different generations are born throughout the year and each completes a segment of the round trip. They can fly at between 20km and 40km an hour, and make use of updrafts of warm air called thermals to rise high into the air and slowly glide down. This endangered species has been negatively impacted by herbicides, human disturbances, and predation.
© Dave Taylor / Greenpeace 2014
Villagers from Luorong Village, a natural village in the Potatso National Forest Park, China, are harvesting barley. The Hengduan Mountain Range in the Yunnan province of China kept its original natural and cultural landscape. It is one of the only remaining Intact Forest Landscapes in China, and is full of biodiversity. After the implementation of the Natural Forest Protection Programme, the former loggers, hunters, herdsmen, and officials became forest rangers and forest policemen. Indigenous People now practice an ethos of modern ecology protection alongside their traditional faith.
© Shi bai Xiao / Greenpeace 2016
Greenpeace volunteers from 10 European countries are mapping one of the last remaining ancient and old growth forests in Europe in the Forest Rescue Station, in order to highlight the need for the Romanian government to legally protect the forest.
© Mitja Kobal / Greenpeace 2016
A farmer holds maize cobs in Yatta, Machokos County. Farmers in Kenya are effectively applying ecological farming practices that are increasing their ability to build resilience to and cope with climate change.
© Cheryl-Samantha Owen / Greenpeace 2015
More than 200 local fishing boats carrying community members from 50 villages unfurl a banner with the message BREAK FREE in Mun river near Don Kham Puang island, Thailand.
As part of the global Break Free movement local communities and Greenpeace Southeast Asia are calling for Thailand to quit dirty energy (dams) and transition to 100% renewable energy, to keep the global average temperature to less than 1.5 degree celsius.
© Arun Sooksukpai / Greenpeace 2017
Confronted with the realities of overfishing, local fisherman in Thailand push for sustainable solutions to preserve the ecosystem that makes their economy thrive.
© Biel Calderon / Greenpeace 2015
Trifina Tsehla switches on the lights as the sun sets in Polokwane, South Africa. In the nights Trifina's family used only paraffin which created a lot of pollution. She knew it was bad for her kids' health but there was no choice as there was no electricity from the grid. When she heard about solar home systems, she wanted to try them out for her family. Now a year later she believes she made the right choice. Her kids are not coughing anymore and they feel much safer in the night.
© Mujahid Safodien / Greenpeace 2016
Plastic waste is seen on sea-bed at Laem Sai, Karon beach, Phuket, Thailand. The area is near coral reefs that are home to marine species.
Greenpeace wants to eliminate single-use plastics which threaten marine life and pollute our oceans.
© Sirachai Arunrugstichai / Greenpeace 2017
One of the first images of the Amazon Reef taken from a submarine launched from the MY Esperanza.
© Greenpeace 2017
The Electricity Control Room at the National Grid has announced that today will likely be the first working day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution. They have said this would be the first continuous 24 hour period without coal.
Hannah Martin, Head of Energy at Greenpeace UK, said:
"The first working day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in ten years' time our energy system will have radically transformed again.
The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology. They will need to get on with the coal phase-out plan and recognise the economic potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency. We can meet the UK's needs for skilled jobs and fair bills, whilst also meeting our climate targets."
Wednesday 19th April, 2017, London - Greenpeace UK has been fined £30,000 by the Electoral Commission for taking a principled stand against the controversial Lobbying Act.
In the run-up to the 2015 election the environmental group refused to register as a ‘third-party campaigning organisation’ under the new law. The move was an act of civil disobedience against a law that curbs free speech and neuters the power of campaigners to hold politicians to account while doing nothing to regulate actual lobbyists.
Under the Lobbying Act civil society organisations are required to register with the Electoral Commission if they plan to spend more than £20,000 in England or £10,000 in the rest of the UK on so-called ‘regulated activities’. The government’s definition of these activities is so broad it can include any activity that could be interpreted as ‘political’.
The Cameron government passed the legislation in the wake of high-profile corporate lobbying scandals. But the law that hit the statute book did far more to curb charities and campaigners than the actual lobbyists it purported to rein in. The legislation was condemned by a coalition of 160 charities - including the Royal British Legion, Save the Children and the Salvation Army - as well as a cross-party coalition of politicians.
During the 2015 election campaign Greenpeace UK visited coastal communities around the UK to campaign for sustainable fishing policies to be included in the parties’ manifestos, holding events supported by MPs and candidates of all parties from UKIP to the Green Party. The current fisheries minister George Eustice was among the candidates who signed a Greenpeace pledge to help local, sustainable fishermen. Greenpeace UK also promoted an anti-fracking election pledge that was signed by MPs of all political stripes.
Greenpeace UK was happy to tell the Electoral Commission how much it had spent on the two campaigns - a figure well below the spending limit for registered organisations under the Lobbying Act. But because Greenpeace UK refused to register its election manifestos campaign with the State under what it considers an anti-free speech law, the organisation has now been fined.
The legislation was found wanting by a government-commissioned review led by Lord Hodgson. The Conservative peer criticised the Lobbying Act for failing to distinguish between activities in support of a specific political party and civil society campaigning on public interest issues which are not party political. He concluded that the law needed to be changed to reduce its scope, but the government has so far ignored the recommendation.
In response to the fine Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:
“Sometimes legislation is just wrong and you have to stand up and say so. That’s why we decided to oppose this illiberal law in an act of civil disobedience. The Lobbying Act is a democratic car crash, it weakens democracy and curtails free speech. Now Britain is going into a second general election regulated by a law that does little to stop powerful companies exerting secret influence in the corridors of power while gagging charities and campaign groups with millions of members. If the last election is anything to go by it will have a chilling effect on groups trying to raise important issues. Whoever wins on June 8th should heed the advice of Lord Hodgson and amend it.”
The Lobbying Act - also known as ‘the charity-gagging law’ - was blamed for having a ‘chilling effect’ on charity campaigning ahead of the 2015 election. A report by the Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement, chaired by ex-Bishop of Oxford Lord Harries, found that charities had been ‘frightened’ into cutting back their advocacy work because of the act.
Another part of the same legislation has also been criticised by anti-corruption campaigners for failing to rein in corporate lobbyists. The government’s lobbying register, one of the new provisions in the act, has been branded ‘useless’ by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency for capturing just a fraction of the hundreds of professional lobbyists working in Westminster.
John Sauven added:
“If you’re a corporate lobbyist paid by a tobacco company to fight anti-smoking legislation you’ve got little to worry about, the Lobbying Act does hardly anything to restrict you. But if you’re a mass membership campaign group trying to get political parties to make strong commitments on the environment or human rights then watch out, the State can now regulate your campaign, tying you in bureaucratic knots and preventing voters from hearing about the issues that matter. That’s why many charities decided the safest thing was to sit out the last election and may do the same this time. The Lobbying Act skews politics in favour of corporations operating in the shadows.”
From Lord Hodgson’s review of the Transparency and Lobbying Act:
4.19 [...] The regulation of third parties should seek to regulate only electoral campaigning, that is, activity intended to influence people’s voting choices in the run-up to or during the election campaign. It should not seek to regulate the normal campaigning activities of organisations or individuals where that could more properly be described as advocacy or political campaigning.
Recommendation 3: The statutory definition of ‘procuring electoral success’ should be narrowed so as to capture only electoral campaigning – that is activity which is clearly intended to influence voters’ choices as between candidates or parties.
Greenpeace UK Press Office – [email protected] or 020 7865 8255
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is a car industry lobby group. Their members include most major car manufacturers and therefore, it is no surprise that the group has been at the forefront of bravely defending diesel recently.
But right now everyone else from Bloomberg to JP Morgan to prestigious newspapers - and even some car companies themselves - are predicting the inevitable demise of diesel. But SMMT seem to be making a last-ditch attempt to save the fuel everyone else is edging out of the door. So who’s got their finger on the pulse?
Below, we take a look at their recent claims about diesel and why we think that their 10 “facts” about diesel really don’t add up:
1. WHAT THEY SAID: In 2016, a record 1.3 million new diesel cars were registered in the UK, up 0.6% on the previous year – a trend that’s continuing.
That trend - if you can call 0.6% trendy at all - has not continued in 2017. Bloomberg reported that diesel registrations in January 2017 were 4.3% down from January 2016. And that 0.6% pales even further compared to the massive 22% increase in registrations of alternate fuel vehicles, including electric, from 2015-16.
Globally, diesel is a European problem – diesel sales in Europe exceed those in India, China and the Americas combined. But across Europe diesel sales are starting to hurtle down, due in part to various European capitals’ mayors bringing in restrictions on diesel engines. Last year in Germany, diesel sales dropped 5%, August diesel sales were down 5.8% in France, 5.5% in Belgium and Luxembourg, and a whopping 12.9% in the Netherlands.
SMMT itself accepted in one of its reports that “a move away from conventional powertrains towards hybrids of various forms and partly or wholly electrified systems is unstoppable.” They also claim that “£290 million has been committed to 17 collaborative R&D projects that will save more than 17 million tonnes CO2 emissions while also creating or securing at least 5,300 jobs in the UK.” If SMMT claims to support ultra low emissions vehicles on one hand, why are they defending diesel instead of supporting this “unstoppable” progression?
2. WHAT THEY SAID: Diesel is critical to reducing CO2 emissions, which in turn is tackling climate change – diesel cars emit, on average, 20% lower CO2 than petrol equivalents.
Actually on average diesel cars emit more CO2 than petrol cars - because diesels tend to bigger than petrols. Your own figures tell us that in 2013 the average diesel car emitted 129.2g/km of CO2. The average petrol emitted 128.8g/km.
The bottom line is, even if the shift to diesel was a genuine attempt to reduce CO2 emissions it’s been a tragic failure - a tiny CO2 saving at the cost of a huge increase in air pollution. The only way to tackle the health harm of diesel emissions and the climate change impact of petrol emissions is to go 100% electric. By continuing to push diesel on us, SMMT are holding back the necessary and inevitable transition to electric vehicles.
3. WHAT THEY SAID: Almost one in every two new cars registered in the UK is a diesel, with buyers valuing their high performance and low fuel consumption.
Fuel efficiency claims by diesel cars remain questionable at best. As Which? says: “with the average UK motorist now covering less than 9,000 miles per year, the potential fuel economy savings [of diesel cars] aren’t that impressive.”
There are extra costs associated with diesel engines, from increased initial outlay to potentially thousands of pounds to replace the diesel particulate filter. Which? directly compared petrol and diesel models and found these extra costs undermined fuel savings leaving the buyer worse off.
4. WHAT THEY SAID: Commercial vehicles are powered by diesel and they transport people, essential goods and our emergency services. Without them, life would be much harder.
Alluding to the emergency services is a dangerous line of defence for diesel. According to estimates, air pollution is costing the NHS and wider economy £27.5 billion. It is wrong to position emergency services or clean air as choices that are mutually exclusive of each other - of course they are not, they are especially connected! Air pollution can cause asthma in otherwise healthy children, can stunt children’s lung growth permanently by up to 10%, and is linked to strokes, heart disease and diabetes in older people.
There is an alternative for all these vehicles with the rapid growth in electric vehicle technology. We need to move away from diesel cars first since alternative technology for cars already exists. Vans and bigger vehicles like emergency services will require more time and support to transition away from diesel as technology catches up.
5. WHAT THEY SAID: Advanced diesel technology has virtually eliminated emissions of particulate matter, with 99% of these soot particulates captured by special filters fitted to all new diesel cars since 2011.
People regularly get garages to take their diesel particulate filters (DPFs) off to save fuel and to do so is not even illegal in the UK! In fact, one quick search online for DPF removal gives you ads by garages advertising the fact that they remove filters.
The idea is that modern diesel cars filter most of this particulate matter (PM) out but in practice these filters are often faulty or are removed to improve performance. Without a fully functioning filter system minor efficiency advantages of diesel are negated by the warming impact of black carbon. After the initial test there is no ongoing test to check on the car’s filter system. Given a new car would be expected to last for ten to fifteen years, that’s masses more PM emissions than SMMT claim.
Also, not even mentioning that new diesel cars regularly emit much more NOx than they should is a problematic oversight.
6. WHAT THEY SAID: The latest Euro 6 vehicles are the cleanest in history – and light years away from their older counterparts.
As Which? describes their latest tests on Euro 6 vehicles: “We’ve found that of the diesel cars we’ve tested, nearly a quarter would exceed Euro 3 limits (passed in 2001) when faced with our more realistic tests. This means these cars don't pass the earliest emission regulations from this century.”
There is no such thing as clean diesel. The car makers have gamed the tests and lobbied hard to water down regulations around emissions. Car manufacturers lied to us about emissions tests and how much their diesel cars pollute. Now, SMMT are tasked with the unpleasant job of covering the industry’s backs by calling Euro 6 diesels ‘clean’. The only way out of the diesel mess the industry got us into is to reduce diesel consumption altogether and end sales.
Given that the majority of commentators and indeed many in the car industry agree that it's a case of when not if we transition to hybrid and EV technology, defending an old, polluting technology like diesel will put the economy at a massive disadvantage compared to countries that grasp this opportunity at the first calling.
7. WHAT THEY SAID: Euro 6 technology works. Real world tests using the London 159 bus route show a 95% drop in NOx compared with previous generation Euro 5 buses.
Euro 6 is not a standardised technology and emissions in the real world are different for bigger vehicles like buses than cars. Two thirds of Euro 6 cars have been found to be polluting between 2 to 15 times the Euro 6 standard. SMMT and car companies also know that electric and hybrid cars are cleaner and will help reduce NOx emissions on London’s roads.
And just to put the pollution from diesel cars alone in perspective - diesel cars account for 41% of NOx pollution on UK roads - more than trucks and buses (29%, both combined) and vans (20%).
8. WHAT THEY SAID: The latest Euro 6 cars are classed as low emission for the purposes of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone due to come into force in 2019, meaning drivers of these vehicles will be free to enter the zone without charge.
Right now the Mayor’s proposal is to charge old diesel (Euro 5 and earlier) cars once the new ULEZ comes into force from 2019. But if London has to meet its legal limits on NO2 this needs to go farther than that and most diesel vehicles need to be phased out. We know that most new Euro 6 diesel cars are polluting 2 to 15 times more than allowed and despite promising improvements, we can’t trust car manufacturers to clean up their act any time soon. The scientific evidence about how air pollution affects our health is piling up and that is why mayors of Paris, Madrid and Athens have already committed to phasing diesel out completely 2025.
9. WHAT THEY SAID: Contrary to recent reports, diesel cars are not the main source of urban NOx. In London, gas heating of homes and offices is the biggest contributor, responsible for 16%. While road transport as a whole is responsible for around half of London’s NOx, diesel cars produce just 11%.
Air pollution is complex and its sources are varied. We know that in cities like London, road transport is responsible for 50% of NOx emissions - much more than domestic and commercial gas. In London, diesel cars - not including buses - are responsible for 24% of NOx emissions on the roads. This data covers the Greater London Authority and is tracked by the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.
And across the whole of the UK, diesel vehicles are responsible for 90% of NOx emissions on the road.
It is also important to remember that exposure to air pollution happens when people are making their way around a city and road emissions is what matters when it comes to the public health impacts of air pollution. In London alone, we know that there are more than 750 nurseries that are close to roads that break legal limits of air pollution and that pollution is mostly coming from diesel vehicles. And in order for this to change, we need to move away from diesel vehicles altogether, starting with dirty diesel cars.
10. WHAT THEY SAID: In September this year, a new official EU-wide emissions testing system will come into force. This will be the world’s toughest-ever emissions standard.
What SMMT did not tell us was that even after the ‘real world’ tests, the new diesel Euro 6 cars will continue to pollute at least twice as much as they are supposed to!
This ‘toughest-ever’ is a staggered approach toward the actual supposed standard of 80 mg/km and September 2017 is merely the deadline for a conformity factor of 2.1 times the standard, ie 168 mg/km.
It’s unfortunate that SMMT is putting its weight behind defending diesel when it has the potential to be a true champion of electric vehicles. SMMT is missing an opportunity here and risks costing the UK car industry valuable years entering the electric production market.
Greenpeace response to the first ever subsidy free offshore wind being awarded to DONG Energy for three projects in the German North Sea.
Hannah Martin, Head of Energy at Greenpeace UK, said:
"The announcement of the first ever subsidy free offshore wind project in Europe is a watershed moment for the world's renewable energy market.
Offshore wind has the potential for huge global growth from the USA to Taiwan as the technology massively improves, costs fall and governments wake up to the economic potential.
The UK government should take note of other countries who are benefiting from this booming offshore technology and jump on board with both feet while we are still leaders in the field."
Contact: Alexandra Sedgwick, Greenpeace UK Press Officer, 07773 043 386, [email protected]
One of the best things about working on Greenpeace’s campaign to end ocean plastics is the chance to have lots of conversations with all sorts of people about the issue - whether on local radio stations or with pedestrians walking past the 2.5 tonne sculpture we installed outside Coca-Cola’s London HQ this week.
Everyone knows that plastic pollution is a massive problem. We’re all too familiar with seeing plastic bottles scattered along our beaches or washed up on riverbanks.
But when it comes to tackling a problem of this scale, knowledge of the solutions is a bit fuzzier. It’s clear that to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean, we need to turn the tap off at source. This means ending the era of throwaway plastic. But that’s a pretty big ask. For those of us who live for practical to-do lists, how do we do that?
We’ve kicked off our campaign by calling for the companies that are responsible for selling single-use plastic bottles to us to commit to drastically reducing their plastic footprint, by ditching throwaway plastic. Studies estimate that 600 billion bottles will be produced globally this year - and Coca-Cola alone is responsible for a sixth of all plastic drinks bottles sold around the world. In the UK, 16 million plastic bottles will be dumped into our environment every day.
But isn’t it up to individuals not to litter, and to make sure the plastic bottles they use are recycled?
The answer is that we all have a responsibility to reduce our plastic footprint - individuals, businesses and governments. But there is such a huge amount of plastic flowing into the ocean - a rubbish truck’s worth every single minute - that we need to tackle this problem at source.
Think about it like this: if your bath was overflowing, your priority would be to turn off the taps - you wouldn’t first start mopping up the excess water.
So to end ocean plastic pollution, we need to prioritise reducing the staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging that is being pumped out and sold to us in the first place.
Our litter collection and recycling systems simply cannot keep up with the amount of plastic we’re using. It’s unacceptable that it’s so hard to avoid buying food and drinks in throwaway plastic packaging on your weekly shop. In fact, the 5p plastic bag charge in supermarkets is a great illustration of how individuals, governments and business can work together to make single-use plastic a thing of the past.
Governments across the UK introduced the charge to give individuals an incentive to re-use bags, and businesses started creating more durable plastic bags to meet this demand. As a result, throwaway plastic bag use has dropped by 85% in England, and number of plastic bags washing up on British coastlines nearly halved between 2014 and 2015!
So of course individuals are part of this change - you can try out our plastic calculator to test your own plastic footprint, and find out easy ways to reduce it. But even if you’re shocked by your results, I bet you’re a long way off the plastic footprint of major soft drinks companies like Coca-Cola.
Whilst it’s important, it’s not enough that individuals simply recycle more, as the big drinks companies claim. Without drastic action from the industry itself as well, we won’t succeed halting the flow of plastic into the oceans.
These companies spend millions promoting themselves as eco-conscious, but we’ve revealed that Coca-Cola sells over 100 billion single-use plastic bottles every year. That means if Coke do take credible action to reduce their plastic footprint and embrace refillable packaging, that can make a massive difference to our oceans.
They’ve done it before to tackle climate change, through reducing their carbon footprint. Coca-Cola used its influence across the soft drinks sector and its global supply chain to boost momentum for phasing out highly polluting greenhouse gases from its cooling units. Now it needs to do the same for its plastic footprint.
That’s why we’re encouraging people to demand change from these companies.Coca-Cola has already U-turned on its opposition to a deposit return scheme in Scotland this year after its own customer polling showed the majority supported this kind of scheme.
You can now join over 46,000 people who’ve written directly to Coke’s European CEO to tell him that ocean plastic pollution must end - and that he can’t keep washing his hands of the problem.
This problem isn’t going to go away unless companies like Coca-Cola drastically reduce their use of single-use plastic bottles, embrace reusable bottles and invest in ways of dispensing drinks based on re-use.
Our oceans simply cannot stomach any more plastic - tell Coke to stop choking our oceans. Email Coca-Cola's CEO now.
28 members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea 'Caucus on Post-Nuclear Energy' in South Korea are calling on KEPCO not to invest in new nuclear power or the UK's NuGen Moorside nuclear project. This comes after Greg Clark travelled to South Korea last week to meet KEPCO and seek support for the Moorside project, following the bankruptcy of Toshiba Westinghouse and Engie pulling out of the NuGen venture.
At a press briefing at the National Assembly at 09.00 KST on Tuesday 11th April, the National Assembly 'Caucus on Post-Nuclear Energy' and Greenpeace South Asia gave a joint statement to media.
Hannah Martin, Head of Energy at Greenpeace UK, said:
"Every nuclear power station currently being built in Europe and the USA has gone massively over time and over budget. The nuclear industry in Europe is also rife with scandals, safety irregularities and poor management. The story for Moorside will be no different. Before it has even started it is mired in bankruptcy and controversy. After Toshiba’s subsidiary Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy and their French partner Engie backed out, Greg Clark flew 5,000 miles to try to fill the investor gap and secure a new reactor for Moorside from South Korea’s KEPCO. The political desperation of the UK government to deliver this nuclear plant is obvious. But their energy policy will be increasingly vulnerable as alternatives to nuclear power are proven to be cheaper and faster to build, with no environmental risk. It's time for a global shift to clean energy."
Wonshik Woo, a congressman and a co-representative of the National Assembly Caucus on Post-Nuclear Energy, in South Korea said:
“We urge KEPCO to immediately halt their plan to expand their nuclear business. The major candidates of the upcoming Presidential Election have already pledged their support for nuclear phase-out. The candidates are in favour of investment in renewable energy for a sustainable and nuclear-free society. As a public corporation, KEPCO should also listen to the demands of the public."
Mikyoung Kim, Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said:
“The nuclear industry is a sinking ship. The world is moving fast toward a nuclear phase-out and energy transition. It is regrettable that the Korean nuclear industry is jumping on this sinking ship, while others are trying to get off urgently. People in South Korea are calling for a new government to transition into a new energy system. KEPCO should stop betting with public money on this myth of Nuclear Renaissance. Instead, they should invest in a transition to renewables, for the future that the people want.”
Alexandra Sedgwick, Press Officer at Greenpeace UK, [email protected], 07773 043386.