Greenpeace UK: the complete guide

Greenpeace logo

Greenpeace is a political pressure group founded in 1971 whose main aim is to combat public and private sector practices that are harmful to the environment and promote a greener, more sustainable future for the planet.

It conducts creative, nonviolent protests which shine a light on these harmful practices, bringing them to public attention while calling into question their legitimacy. It has been called the largest direct-action environmental group in the world.

There are a number of specific challenges that Greenpeace seeks to address through its activities, and we’re going to take you through each of them on this page.

Climate change

The Earth is dying and the consensus is that human activity is what’s killing it. It is generally acknowledged and even already observable that climate change is having the following effects:

  • Rising sea levels
  • Extreme weather events
  • Loss of biodiversity

This will cost lives and inevitably hit the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people the hardest. Greenpeace looks to encourage people and, more importantly, governments and industries, to change their habits to allay the effect they’re having on the planet.

Want to know more about the effect you’re having on the planet? If you’d like to see what effect your energy consumption is having on the environment, go to our carbon footprint checker and find out your household’s yearly CO2 emissions.

If you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, an easy way to do so is to switch your home energy provider to one offering a 100% renewable supply. A number of companies now take advantage of the increased availability and profitability of renewable energy sources.

Nuclear energy

Though often referred to as ‘clean’, nuclear energy creates a huge amount of hazardous waste which does damage to the planet and by its very nature represents a danger to the planet and its people. Yet, despite the legacy of disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power continues to be seen as a legitimate source of energy the world over.

Nuclear plants continue to be built, despite the fact that they are not only dangerous but expensive and problematic to build as well. The new Hinkley Point C reactor in Somerset has been labelled “the most expensive object on Earth” due to its estimated £25 billion cost, and a new reactor being built in Finland is 11 years behind schedule…

Greenpeace protests and campaigns against the building of new nuclear plants, promoting instead renewable sources such as wind and tidal energy, solar energy and biofuels.

Plastic pollution

Despite it being well-known that plastic is not biodegradable and represents a huge pollution problem, especially in the world’s oceans, it is still widespread. The vast majority of industries still use plastic, with single-use plastic still everywhere and recycling still not commonplace even in the developed world.

Greenpeace seeks to draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution, particularly in the world’s oceans, and to try to eliminate it at its source.

Soya cultivation

While a perfectly decent crop and an excellent source of nutrition, the extent of the agricultural industry’s use of the soya bean as a feed for livestock presents an enormous problem to the planet. The drive to feed a vastly increasingly livestock population to produce more meat and dairy is resulting in the eradication of forests and accelerating climate change.

Soya is grown mostly in Brazil and Argentina, where massive areas of forest are torn down year on year to meet demand. Greenpeace campaigns against deforestation in these areas, because apart from housing a large amount of biodiversity, trees absorb and store CO2 and produce oxygen, thus doing their bit to keep the planet healthy.

Meat & dairy farming

The sheer number of animals farmed as livestock the world over is causing irreparable damage to the Earth and squeezing wild animals into extinction by destroying their habitats. This is another issue Greenpeace campaigns virulently against.

Apart from the effect of deforestation, artificial fertilisers require a lot of energy to produce and release nitrous oxide (another greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. The most common livestock, cows, also produce great quantities of methane, which also contributes to global warming.

Oil drilling & pipelines

The world’s reliance on oil shows no sign of abating - apart from powering every mode of transport, it’s also used to heat homes and other buildings and as an artificial fertiliser in agriculture.

Oil is second only to coal in terms of the damage it does to the environment, and the building of extraction sites and pipelines represents a threat not only to wildlife but to human communities as well. Greenpeace protests the building of new sites and campaigns against companies and industries that do damage to the planet through oil excavation.

Other issues

Apart from the ones listed above, Greenpeace also campaigns on the following issues:

  • Air pollution
  • Air travel
  • Arctic conservation
  • Antarctic conservation
  • Bee conservation
  • Coal
  • Fracking
  • Ocean conservation
  • Palm oil cultivation
  • Sustainable fishing
  • Whale conservation
  • World peace

In effect, Greenpeace campaigns against any issue that threatens to damage our planet and its inhabitants, be they human or not.

Past protests include dressing as polar bears in Moscow to protest drilling in the Arctic by Russian company Gazprom, climbing Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue to protest the results of the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and painting P&O Nedlloyd ships that were dumping toxic waste while at sea in China.

The idea behind Greenpeace protests is often to draw maximum public attention to these issues so that the private sector and governments face the public scrutiny they should. They certainly have a track record of finding ways to do this.

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