Greenpeace, originally known as the Greenpeace Foundation, was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1972. On September 15, 1971, the Don't Make a Wave Committee sent an eighty foot halibut seiner “Phylis Cormack”, temporarily renamed Greenpeace, from Vancouver, to oppose the United States testing nuclear devices in Amchitka, Alaska. While the boat never reached its destination and was turned back by the US military, this campaign was deemed the first using the name Greenpeace.
In 1972 the Greenpeace Foundation evolved in its own right from a less conservative and structured collective of environmentalists who were more reflective of the days counterculture and hippie youth movements who were spearheading the social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The cultural background from which Greenpeace emerged heralded a period of de-conditioning away from old world antecedents and sought to develop new codes of social, environmental and political behavior.
Greenpeace has national and regional offices in many countries. It also has a large worldwide presence which is affiliated to the Amsterdam-based Greenpeace International. The global organisation receives its income through the individual contributions of an estimated 2.8 million financial supporters as well as grants from charitable foundations.
Greenpeace is a global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behaviours, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace by:
Greenpeace runs campaigns and projects which fit into the "Issues" (as campaign areas are called within Greenpeace) categories below. Besides exposing problems such as over-fishing or threats linked to nuclear power, such as harmful radiation and proliferation, Greenpeace campaigns for alternative solutions such as marine reserves and renewable energy.
The organization currently addresses many environmental issues with a primary focus on efforts to stop global warming and the preservation of the world's oceans and ancient forests. In addition to conventional environmental organization methods, such as lobbying businesses and politicians and participating in international conferences, Greenpeace uses nonviolent direct action in many of its campaigns.
Greenpeace uses direct action to attract attention to particular environmental problems. For example, activists place themselves between the whaler's harpoons and their prey or invade nuclear facilities dressed as barrels of radioactive waste. Currently Greenpeace is in the midst of a campaign called Project Hot Seat, which is geared toward placing pressure on the United States Congress to stop global warming. Other initiatives include the development of a fuel-efficient car, the SmILE.
Bill Darnell has received the credit for combining the words "green" and "peace", thereby giving the organization its future name. Irving Stowe, Paul Coté and Jim Bohlen are co-founders of Greenpeace. Coté and Bohlen traveled to Anchorage to speak to legislators (many of whom were also against the testing) about the activities of Greenpeace. The two men said that they were highly amused at the surveillance placed on them by the American government. The Alaska Fish and Game Department protested loudly about the destruction of the sea lion population and many other species of sea life. The Phyllis Cormack stationed herself outside the testing zone to observe the results of the tests. After the initial underwater tests, the United States Congress voted against further underwater testing. Robert Hunter was a media guru and spiritual and organisational leader. Ben Metcalfe became the first Chairman of the Greenpeace Foundation and with his wife Dorothy managed the media for the first few years. Dr. Patrick Moore was the ecologist of note and served for nine years as President of Greenpeace Canada as well as seven years as a Director of Greenpeace International. Rod Marining's campaign saved the entrance to Vancouver's Stanley Park. He was on the first voyage to Amchitka and was a board member during the 1970s. Paul Watson was involved in the early days of Greenpeace and led Harp Seal Campaigns. and Josh Norris Lyle Thurston was the medical doctor on the first voyage and served on the board during the 1970s.
On 4 May, 1972, following Dorothy Stowe's departure from the chairmanship of the Don't Make a Wave Committee, the fledgling environmental group officially changed its name to "The Greenpeace Foundation".
In 1972 the yacht Vega, a ketch owned by David McTaggart (an eventual spokesman for Greenpeace International), was renamed Greenpeace III and sailed in an anti-nuclear protest into the exclusion zone at Mururoa in French Polynesia to attempt to disrupt French atmospheric nuclear testing. This voyage was sponsored and organised by the New Zealand branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. CNDNZ and the New Zealand Peace Media had been lobbying the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand public to place pressure on Britain and France to agree to enforce a nuclear test ban in the South Pacific since the mid 1950s.
In 1973 the yacht Fri spearheaded an international protest of a flotilla of yachts in a voyage against atmospheric nuclear tests at Moruroa in French Polynesia. Fri was an important part of a series of anti-nuclear protest campaigns out of New Zealand and Australia which lasted thirty years, from which New Zealand declared itself a Nuclear free zone which became enshrined in legislation in what became the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987. This voyage was organised by CNDNZ and the New Zealand Peace Media. In 1974, coordinated by Greenpeace New Zealand, the Fri embarked on a 3 year epic 40,233 kilometers “Pacific Peace Odyssey” voyage, carrying the peace message to all nuclear states around the world.
In 1974 the La Flor, from Melbourne, Australia, skippered by Rolf Heimann, a children's author, set out for Mururoa via New Zealand as Greenpeace IV but arrived after the final nuclear test for the year. The French military conducted more than 200 nuclear tests (40 of them atmospheric) at Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls over a thirty-year period ending in 1996.
In 1974 the Vancouver based Greenpeace Foundation mounted an anti-whaling campaign which encountered Soviet whalers over the seamounts off Mendocino, California. This campaign had been influenced by the work of Paul Spong and Farley Mowat as well as Robert Hunter's encounter with the Orca Skana.
In 1976 a campaign was launched against the killing and skinning of baby seals in Newfoundland for the high-fashion fur trade, targeting Norwegian ships engaged in the trade after receiving a hostile welcome from the Newfoundland fishermen involved in the hunt. Greenpeace used helicopters to move people and supplies to a base camp at Belle Isle. Brigitte Bardot later got involved in this campaign, to great effect. In the same year another anti-whaling expedition, using the James Bay as Greenpeace VII, disrupted the Soviet fleet again, but this time with the assistance of a "deep throat" source and extra funding from Ed Daly of World Airways. At about the same time visits to Japan were arranged to persuade the Japanese people that whaling should end.
By the late 1970s, spurred by the global reach of what Robert Hunter called "mind bombs", in which images of confrontation on the high seas converted diffuse and complex issues into considerably more media-friendly David versus Goliath-style narratives, more than 20 groups across North America , Europe , New Zealand and Australia had adopted the name "Greenpeace".
Greenpeace also engaged with its opponents through the courts both in Canada (defending a loitering charge for failing to leave a fisheries office) and in France (David McTaggart's Law of the Sea case to recover repair costs after his yacht Vega was damaged by the French navy).
Similarly, Greenpeace became involved with lobbying elected officials and various bodies such as the United Nations through events such as the Conference on the Human Environment and with the International Whaling Commission.
On August 21, 2007, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), angered environmental groups with his suggestion that "rich nations should be absolved from the need to cut emissions if they pay developing countries to do it on their behalf". Doug Parr of Greenpeace opposed Mr. de Boer's suggestion: "The current trading system is not delivering emissions reductions as it is ... Expanding it like this to give rich countries a completely free hand will simply not work. On August 22, 2007, the Philippine Department of Energy's plan to develop nuclear energy as an alternative source of power was opposed by Von Hernandez, campaign director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who warned that exploring nuclear options to bolster energy demand is "dangerous and misleading." He said the risks of accidents like Chernobyl or the most recent Kashiwazaki nuclear plant leak in Japan after an earthquake are real.
Four Greenpeace activists breached security at Heathrow Airport on February 25 2008 to climb on top of a British Airways plane and protest plans to build a third runway On May 23, 2008, Greenpeace blocked coal shipments of Team Energy Philippines and intentions was to prevent expansion of coal power plants in the country. They sprayed a banner saying "Quit Coal" on the ship, but after negotiations they withdrew.
In August 2008, a Greenpeace ship started dropping 150 2-3 ton boulders into the North Sea in order to stop trawling, which it says harms marine life, demanding that Germany and the EU implement a ban on heavy net bottom trawling in the protected area. German fishermen said that the rocks can damage boats and threaten fishermen lives. The Federation of Fishermen Associations refused to talk with Greenpeace after the action and its president Ben Daalder made the statement "We don't negotiate with a criminal organisation.
In September 2008, 6 Greenpeace activists who damaged a chimney at a power plant in the UK were declared "not guilty" of property destruction by a jury because they argued, through James Hansen who supported them in person, that they actually prevented greater property destruction due to climate change.
Greenpeace's transformation from a loose international network to a global organization enabled it to apply the full force of its resources to a small number of environmental issues deemed of global significance, owing much to McTaggart's personal vision. McTaggart summed up his approach in a 1994 memo: "No campaign should be begun without clear goals; no campaign should be begun unless there is a possibility that it can be won; no campaign should be begun unless you intend to finish it off". McTaggart's own assessment of what could and could not be won, as well as how, frequently caused controversy.
In re-shaping Greenpeace as a centrally coordinated, hierarchical organization, McTaggart went against the anti-authoritarian ethos that prevailed in other environmental organizations that came of age in the 1970s. While this pragmatic structure granted Greenpeace the persistence and narrow focus necessary to match forces with government and industry, it would lead to the recurrent criticism that Greenpeace had adopted the same methods of governance as its chief foes, the multinational corporations. Its current Executive Director is Gerd Leipold.
For smaller actions and for continuous local promotion and activism, Greenpeace has networks of active supporters that coordinate their efforts through national offices. The United Kingdom has some 6,000 Greenpeace activists.
In 1978, Greenpeace launched the original Rainbow Warrior, a , former fishing trawler named for the Cree legend that inspired early activist Robert Hunter on the first voyage to Amchitka. Greenpeace purchased the Rainbow Warrior (originally launched as the Sir William Hardy in 1955) at a cost of £40,000. Volunteers restored and refitted it over a period of four months.
First deployed to disrupt the hunt of the Icelandic whaling fleet, the Rainbow Warrior would quickly become a mainstay of Greenpeace campaigns. Between 1978 and 1985, crew members also engaged in non-violent direct action against the ocean-dumping of toxic and radioactive waste, the Grey Seal hunt in Orkney and nuclear testing in the Pacific. Japan's Fisheries Agency has labeled Greenpeace ships as "anti-whaling vessels" and "environmental terrorists".
In 1985 the Rainbow Warrior entered into the waters surrounding Moruroa atoll, site of French nuclear testing. The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior occurred when the French government secretly bombed the ship in Auckland harbour on orders from François Mitterrand himself. This killed Dutch freelance photographer Fernando Pereira, who thought it was safe to enter the boat to get his photographic material after a first small explosion, but drowned as a result of a second, larger explosion. The attack was a public relations disaster for France after it was quickly exposed by the New Zealand police. The French Government in 1987 agreed to pay New Zealand compensation of NZ$13 million and formally apologised for the bombing. The French Government also paid ₣2.3 million compensation to the family of the photographer.
In 1989 Greenpeace commissioned a replacement vessel, also named the Rainbow Warrior, which remains in service today as the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet.
In 1996 the Greenpeace vessel MV Sirius was detained by Dutch police while protesting the import of genetically modified soybeans due to the violation of a temporary sailing prohibition, which was implemented because the Sirius prevented their unloading. The ship, but not the captain, was released half an hour later.
In 2005 the Rainbow Warrior II ran aground on and damaged the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines while she was, ironically, on a mission to protect the very same reef. Greenpeace was fined $7,000 USD for damaging the reef and agreed to pay the fine, although it said that the Philippines government had given it outdated charts.
Along with the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace organisation has four other ships:
In March, 2007 a division dedicated to working more closely with the entertainment community, founded by Mark Warford and former Eurythmic, Dave Stewart was established in Hollywood. Inaugural projects included the music release of 'Go Green', a celebrity-laden pop song that included Dave Stewart, Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan and newcomer Nadirah X and a cultural exchange with Greenpeace China and the Hollywood community. The affiliation with Greenpeace was closed in October, 2007 due gross misalignment. Founders Mark Warford and former Eurythmic, Dave Stewart continue under the banner of Weapons of Mass Entertainment.