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We are all deeply feeling the loss of a friend...

It is with heavy hearts that we can confirm that our dear friend and colleague Carolina Nyberg-Steiser, 29, from Greenpeace Nordic has died in a tragic accident in the Amazon.

Carolina Nyberg-Steiser

Carolina was traveling in a small amphibious plane that crashed while landing on the river Rio Negro near the city of Manaus, capital of the northern state of Amazonas in Brazil. There is no confirmed information on the causes of the accident. The plane crashed Tuesday at around 11.50 AM Manaus time (18.50 CEST).

Carolina was visiting our Brazil office to meet with her colleagues and learn more about the campaign to protect the Amazon. She was on a flight to see firsthand the beauty of the forest.

The four others onboard, including the pilot, all survived, sustaining light injuries.

Out of respect to Carolina’s family we are not commenting further at this time.

Carolina will be deeply missed by all of us. Our thoughts are with her family.

Statement in Swedish:

Set the är med stor sorg vi kan bekräfta att vår nära vän och kollega Carolina Nyberg-Steiser, 29 år, från Greenpeace Norden har omkommit i en tragisk flygolycka utanför Manaus i Amazonas, Brasilien.

Carolina färdades i ett litet amfibieflygplan som kraschade vid landning på floden Rio Negro nära staden Manaus, huvudstaden i Amazonas norra delstat. Det finns ingen bekräftad information om orsakerna till olyckan. Flygplanet kraschade tisdag kl. 11.50 brasiliansk tid (18.50 CEST).

Carolina var på besök vid vårt brasilianska kontor för att träffa kollegor och lära sig mer om vår kampanj för att skydda regnskog i Amazonas. Hon skulle genomföra en flygresa över regionen för att med egna ögon bevittna naturen.

Tre övriga passagerare från Greenpeace Brasilien och piloten överlevde olyckan och vårdas på sjukhus chockade men med lättare skador.

Av respekt för Carolinas familj, och innan vi vet alla detaljer, kommenterar vi inte mer än så i nuläget.

Carolina är djupt saknad av oss alla.

Våra tankar går till hennes familj.

 

Patrik Eriksson is the Programme Director at Greenpeace Nordic



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How green is your tech?

Do you know how this device, the one you are reading on right now, got into your hand or onto your desk?

While it probably came out of a pretty box, if you could look through this screen back through the steps involved in making your shiny device, the picture you would see would likely be far from pretty: a supply chain still reliant on dirty energy sources fueling climate change, dangerous mining practices, hazardous chemicals, and poorly designed products that drive consumption of the Earth’s natural resources.

Did you know that…

  • As much of 80% of the carbon pollution associated with electronics happens before you even turn them on.

  • For the 100g of minerals in each smartphone, miners must dig, chip and process more than 340 times as much rock.

  • In 2017, global e-waste volumes were projected to hit 65 million metric tonnes, enough to bury San Francisco at a depth of more than four meters!

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact some brands have at least begun to improve product design or make changes in their supply chains to reduce their impact on the planet.

A group of volunteers takes a smartphone repair class at the Greenpeace Mexico office given by a local repair group, Fix Friends. A group of volunteers takes a smartphone repair class at the Greenpeace Mexico office given by a local repair group, Fix Friends. 

Much more than thinner devices or more megapixels, we need a fundamental shift in how our devices are made - a rapid move away from the disposable design that is becoming more prevalent in today’s electronics.

To identify which companies are starting on this transformation, we are re-launching the Guide to Greener Electronics.

Greenpeace USA spent the last two years looking at the sector from top to bottom, evaluating the efforts of 17 of the largest smartphone, tablet, and PC producers. We identified three critical areas to measure whether a company is driving the necessary transformation in their product design and supply chains to protect the planet: (1) Renewable Energy Transition, (2) Reducing Resource Consumption, (3) Elimination of Hazardous chemicals.

Here are some highlights from this year's guide... 

1. Renewable energy transition

The IT sector is estimated to already be responsible for 7-12% of electricity demand globally, with continued rapid growth expected. We’ve seen Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon respond to public concerns and begin transitioning their data centers to renewable sources of energy, but only Apple has extended its commitment to be 100% renewable to include its massive product supply chain.  Major players in the sector like Samsung, Huawei, and Amazon do not even make public their supply chain greenhouse gas footprint.

2. Reducing resource consumption

More of the earth’s resources are going into our devices, to be in use for only a short amount of time before contributing to the 65 million metric tons of e-waste generated globally each year. IT companies must break this cycle and abandon planned obsolescence strategies, focusing instead on slowing consumption with devices that are designed to last longer, be easier to repair, and use more recycled materials. Fairphone, Dell, and HP are currently leading the charge in greener product design, while Samsung, Apple and Microsoft are headed in the wrong direction.

3. Elimination of hazardous chemicals.

Elimination of hazardous chemicals was the main focus of the Guide to Green Electronics from 2007 to 2012. Ten years later, leadership by Apple is evident, but Samsung and several other companies have yet to meet commitments they made in 2009/2010 to eliminate PVC and BFRs from their products. Much greater urgency across the board is needed to eliminate hazardous chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process, starting with known carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disrupting chemicals.

Greenpeace volunteers group organizes a smartphone repair event in Beijing, China where visitors can repair their smartphones.

Overall, the average grade across the 17 companies in this year’s guide was only a D+, highlighting that most companies have a long way to go to make devices that are sustainable. Fairphone scored the highest overall with a B, and was notable for its strong commitment to a product design that is repairable and upgradeable.   

What can you do?

We’ve seen that tech companies respond when they hear from the public, and they need to hear it’s important to take responsibility for their growing footprint on the planet. Tech companies must shift away from their “take, make, waste” business model, to one that preserves natural resources and uses renewable energy.

Electronics made with renewable energy and designed to last? Now that would be innovative. Tell the companies what you think!

Check out our guide, share it with your friends, and ask tech companies to give us electronics that are made with renewable energy, reusable materials, and designed to be long-lasting!

Gary Cook is Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace USA



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The Ocean Plastic Crisis

"Plastics!" This became one of the most famous film lines from the 1960s era. In the film The Graduate, young university graduate, Ben (Dustin Hoffman) appears annoyed and distracted when his wealthy American parents stage an elaborate party to show him off to their peers. A family friend approaches him and says, "Ben I have one word for you: Plastics." Ben nods and stares into space, oblivious to the career advice.

This short scene foreshadowed the age that followed. Plastics were about to explode upon the world. Commercial organic polymers were first synthesized a century ago, used by armies in World War II. They first entered consumer production in the 1950s. Plastic packaging created a global shift from reusable containers to single-use, throw-away containers.

According to a 2016 plastic industry report, the world’s plastic production has grown by 8.6% per year since 1950: from 1.5 million tonnes annually to over 330 million tonnes annually. As of today, some 9 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced and spread around the world. To the plastics industry, this is a "global success story." For Earth's beleaguered ecosystems, for all non-human species, and for anyone paying attention, plastics have been a deadly disaster.

According to a report  published in Science Advances - from researchers at the University of California, University of Georgia, and Woods Hole Institute in Massachusetts - only about 9% of plastic has been recycled, 12 % has been incinerated (polluting the air with toxic gases), and the remaining 79 %, remains in the environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic in natural environments. That's the weight of 100 million blue whales - 5,000 times the actual blue whale population left on Earth.

Whale Art Installation in the Philippines, May 2017. © GreenpeaceWhale Art Installation in the Philippines, May 2017. © Greenpeace

Plastics are closely correlated with economic growth. Multinational corporations often impose plastic packaging on poor nations that may lack recycling systems to deal with them. Because of the fundamental chemistry of most commonly used plastics, they are not biodegradable, so they accumulate as virtually permanent contamination in Earth's ecosystems.  

Choking the oceans

Plastic debris appears in every ocean of the world. Every year, we’re adding millions of tons more plastic to marine environments. Some researchers estimate that we may be adding up to 12 million tonnes annually.

The Guardian has reported that marine scientists documented 38 million pieces of plastic on the remote, uninhabited Henderson Island in the South Pacific. The human garbage the found originated from all over the world. They found samples from Germany, New Zealand, Canada, and elsewhere, amounting to about 18 tonnes. A lot of this plastic is not even visible. In a single square-metre of sand, digging down 10 cm the researchers found over 4,000 tiny bits of plastic.

In the open ocean, plastic collects in eddies or gyres, relative calm regions surrounded by stronger ocean currents. There are five major ocean gyres; two in the Atlantic, north and south, two in the Pacific, and one in the Indian Ocean, plus dozens of smaller gyres. The gyres accumulate plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic containers,  plastic drums, polystyrene packing, foam pieces, polypropylene fishing net, plastic rope, plastic traffic cones, disposable lighters, plastic toys, rubber tires, plastic toothbrushes, and other unidentifiable bits and pieces.

The North Pacific gyre creates the largest garbage site in the world: 700,000 to a million square kilometers of floating plastic. The gyre contains six kilograms of plastic for every kilogram of plankton. In Hawaii, south of this gyre, a dead turtle was found with over a thousand pieces of plastic in its stomach.

Turtle and Plastic in the Ocean. © Troy Mayne / Oceanic Imagery PublicationsTurtle and Plastic in the Ocean. © Troy Mayne / Oceanic Imagery Publications

Pieces of plastic are sharp, brittle, toxic, and routinely found in the stomachs of dead fish, turtles, and marine mammals. Plastics can come with a range of hazardous additives and can act as a chemical sponge, soaking up and concentrating other pollutants. Marine species, including fish, seabirds and even marine mammals, can end up eating pieces of plastic, and at the same time get an additional dose of toxic chemicals.

Researchers have found plastic in the stomachs of 44% of all seabird species, 22% of cetacean species, and in all sea turtle species. Among seabirds, the Procellariiformes (albatross, petrels, shearwaters) are most vulnerable due to their small gizzard and inability to regurgitate the plastics. Plankton eaters - birds, fish, and mammals - often confuse plastic pellets with their food; copepods, euphausiids, and cephalopods.

The plastics obstruct the animals' intestines, block gastric enzyme secretion and there are growing fears that they might also disrupt hormone levels or cause other biological effects as a result of the chemical burden they carry. It is estimated that up to about one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from ingesting plastic or by getting tangled in nylon fishing line, nets, six-pack plastic can holders, and plastic rope.

Plastic Waste on Manila Bay Beach, 3 May, 2017. © Daniel Müller / GreenpeacePlastic Waste on Manila Bay Beach, 3 May, 2017. © Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

Solutions: obvious but inconvenient

Without large-scale action, global plastic production continues to rise. According to the 2015 Global Ocean Commission it’s estimated to reach 500 million tonnes a year by 2020.

Solutions to the plastic waste crisis exist, but they require us to change our lifestyles and for corporations to take responsibility for the products they make. We can fight for total bans on plastic materials (bags, bottles, etc.), but we also need governments to enforce requirements that corporations who manufacture or distribute plastic, take responsibility for recycling 100% of their production and distribution.

Plastic bag bans already exist in some cities and countries around the world: San Francisco and Portland in the US; Modbury in the UK; Mexico City; Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Rajasthan in India; Oyster Bay and other communities in Australia; and throughout Rwanda, Kenya, Morocco and many other African countries. Some nations are imposing recycling taxes on plastic bags.

Locally, in some environments, these bans have reduced plastic waste. But the flow of plastics into the environment continues on a global scale. Banning plastic bags is a good start, but we need large-scale global bans on throw-away plastic containers, including water bottles, juice and drink bottles, and other packing materials.

Common Species of the Inner Hebrides (artwork). © Mandy Barker / GreenpeaceCommon Species of the Inner Hebrides (artwork). © Mandy Barker / Greenpeace

I've attended allegedly "green" events, where organizers distribute hundreds, perhaps thousands of plastic water bottles. In mainstream society, this behaviour appears normal. Corporations have lobbied to decrease drinking fountains in certain markets. We need to reverse this trend by increasing public investment in water fountains, water filling stations, water hook-ups for public events, and bans on plastic drink bottles.

In June this year, Greenpeace Germany activists protested at the G20 conference in Bremen and demanded that wealthy nations take concrete steps to reduce the use of plastics by banning key sources of plastic pollution and phasing out single-use plastic items.

They also called for pressure on companies that produce plastic items - packaging, containers,  and so forth - to hold these companies accountable with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws that would require them to create recycling systems for their products.

“As the world’s most developed nations," said Thilo Maack of Greenpeace Germany, "the G20 countries have a responsibility to adopt legally-binding solutions. We cannot recycle our way out of the plastic litter problem. Governments should prioritise prevention at source."

Protest at the G20 Conference in Bremen, 1 June 2017. © Daniel Müller / GreenpeaceProtest at the G20 Conference in Bremen, 1 June 2017. © Daniel Müller / Greenpeace

Citizens can put pressure on their governments to require glass bottles for drinks, substitute packing materials with materials that are reusable. "Mandatory phase out timelines" said Maack, "would motivateinnovation [and] G20 competition to identify and implement the most innovative solutions, contributing far more than continued talks.”

Economic "success" without ecological consciousness can end in disaster. The flood of plastic in our environment is a typical example. Plastics helped create a throwaway culture. Several generations have now grown up believing that tossing out a drink container is completely normal, reasonable behaviour. Ecology teaches us, however, that there is no “away." Everything that passes through our hands ends up somewhere.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

============

Sources and links:

"Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made," Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck, and Kara Lavender Law, Science Advances, 19 July 2017.

"Marine birds and plastic pollution," Marie Y. Azzarello & Edward S. Van Vleet, Marine Ecology, 1987

"Plastic ingestion and PCBs in seabirds,” P.G.Ryan, et. al. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 1988.

World Plastic production 1950 - 2015: Plastic Industry report, 2016

"38 million pieces of plastic waste on uninhabited island": Guardian, 2017

Plastic pellets on all UK beaches: Guardian

Pollution in 10 km deep Mariana Trench: Guardian  

Plastic statistics, stats: Eco Watch , 2014

The Trash Vortex, Greenpeace, March 2014

Greenpeace calls on G20 to act for plastic-free oceans. Greenpeace, June, 2017

“How You Can Help the Ocean”: Smithsonian

"Seven actions for healthy oceans": David Suzuki Foundation

Phaseout of lightweight plastic bags - Wikipedia

 

 



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Give the Congo Basin forest a chance

Approaching the forest in the Congo, I am met with an overwhelming wall of green. Flying over it, I see the meandering rivers merging together. I see animals drinking from the rivers, frolicking with joy in the water. Walking into the forest, I hear a chorus of teeming life – birds, lowland and mountain gorillas, forest elephants, bonobos – many of which are now endangered.

Aerial view of the peatland forest - 14 Sep, 2017Aerial view of peatland forest, Democratic Republic of Congo

I am lucky enough to have spent time with local and Indigenous communities who live here. This forest is their source of water, food, medicine, and shelter. It is their physical and spiritual home. Millions of people depend on it. If the forest disappears, it will bring devastation to their lives.  

Peatlands - areas with partially decayed plant material in the soil - have existed in this forest for a long time, but earlier this year, scientists discovered that the Congo Basin contains the most extensive peatland complex in the world. This means it locks away vast amounts of carbon and is an important part of our fight against climate change.

Peatland forest - 14 Sep, 2017Peatland forest loss, Democratic Republic of Congo

But logging and exploitative agribusiness are threatening the Congo Basin. Intact parts of the forests are being fragmented. Large areas are being clear cut for palm oil and rubber plantations.

This has already had devastating effects: reducing the amount of carbon the forest can store, losing biodiversity, increasing forest fires, and damaging the forest’s resilience to climate change.

To protect it, we need everyone.

Greenpeace Africa and partner organisations have been defending this sacred forest because of what it means to Africa, and to the entire planet. But we are not there yet. The Congo Basin has not been given the due attention and protection it deserves.

Black crested mangabey monkey  - 16 Sep, 2017Black crested mangabey monkey 

To change that, we’re bringing the Greenpeace ship Esperanza to the Congo Basin. It will travel through Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo during October and November 2017. 

Scientists and journalists are coming on board to join us on an expedition into the peatland, to find out how far it stretches. We can’t wait to keep you posted on our findings from the ground.

We’re inviting you all to unite with us, and share your creativity as we put the Congo Basin forest in the minds and hearts of the people of the world. Here’s what you can do to help.

1: The Congo Basin Dance

Music transcends cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. We’ve produced a song called “Dance for the Congo Basin” and we’re inviting everyone who wants to defend this forest to come and dance with us to celebrate the importance of the Congo Basin. Post your dance for the Congo to social media with the hashtag #DanceForCongo.

Dance for the Congo!Staff of Greenpeace Africa show how it's done!

2: The Wish Tree 

We are building a tree of wishes that will travel through Central Africa and arrive at the COP23, where it will be delivered to world leaders to remind them that this forest needs protecting. As we travel, local communities will pin their wish for the forest onto the tree. You can join in by adding your wish here.

We can't win this on our own.

The forest needs you.

 

Victorine Che Thoener is the project leader of the Congo forest campaign

 

 

 





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Activists around Europe #RiseUp for a cleaner...

It was only two years ago when, during the Paris Climate Conference, we displayed our first giant Sun in Paris to demand that our world leaders tackle climate change by replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy.

As the Paris climate conference enters the closing stretch, Greenpeace activists create a solar symbol around the world-famous Paris landmark, the Arc de Triomphe, by painting the roads yellow with a non-polluting water-based paint to reveal the image of a huge shining sun.  This action reminds politicians and governments that whatever they agree in Paris, the only credible way to beat climate change is to support and increase renewables energy systems.COP21: Arc de Triomphe Sun Action in Paris. 11 December, 2015

With world leaders finally agreeing on historic steps to protect the climate, the sun became a symbol of those promises and the symbol of our battle for a healthy, renewable future.

Last June, we marked the beginning of Summer with a sun in Barcelona to remind our leaders of their Paris promises. Another Sun also rose in Croatia to make sure the world remembered the potential of solar energy.

On occasion of summer solstice twenty Greenpeace activists have painted a gigantic 50-meter-wide sun in Barcelona's Francesc Maciá square, in the heart of the city, to support renewable energies and demand access to clean energy for all citizens. The activists have used more than 2000 liters of ecological paint to trace the yellow sun surrounding the square.Sun Action in Barcelona. 21 June 2017.

Last week, peaceful activists turned iconic public spaces in europe into giants suns. They appeared in Hungary and Romania, from Bulgaria to Slovenia, and all the way to Brussels. 

Greenpeace activists display a huge sun with the text #RiseUp under the Liberty Statue in Budapest and create a spectacular view from above to remind European leaders of their commitment to the Paris Agreement to promote renewable energy and tackle climate change.Sunrise Action in Budapest, Hungary. 4 October, 2017

This week, 65 activists from five countries unfolded a giant banner just outside the headquarters of the European Commission  in Brussels. It said, "Go solar!". This was the latest sun to shine in Europe and call upon EU leaders to throw their weight behind renewable energy and to abandon dirty fuels, like coal.

Our leaders in the EU are currently deciding the future of our energy system by reviewing a wide range of legislation on renewable energy policy, fossil fuel subsidies and the design of the electricity market.

More than 20 activists from 5 different countries painted a giant sun in Pernik, one of the two major Bulgarian coal regions, to send an important message: Make renewable energy available for all European citizens.  This activity is part of the European Energy Transition (EET) week of action, with "suns" being created in several cities in Europe to celebrate renewable energy and remind European leaders that now is the time to act on their climate promises.Sunrise Action in Pernik, Bulgaria. 6 October, 2017

This means they could decide to stick to the old, dangerous and outdated energy system by pouring billions of euros of our money into dirty fossil fuels. Or they can invest in clean, sustainable, healthy renewable energy.

With so much renewable energy at our disposal, it is important we remind our leaders to make the right choice and commit to a cleaner future for our planet and our health.

Greenpeace activists formed a big sun on the Prešernov square in the center of Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia. We called upon our national and European leaders to act on their climate promises, phase out fossil fuels and support renewable energy sources. The activity is carried out during a week of action throughout the European Union countries, where similar sunrises will be displayed.Sunrise Action in the Center of Ljubljana, Slovenia. 5 October, 2017.

Ordinary people, cooperatives and small businesses are ready to take part in the energy revolution, by producing energy from wind, water and sunlight.

We met some of these people and only few weeks ago we took their message to the members of the European Parliament.

European Union headquarters in Brussels overlook a giant banner calling for citizen-powered renewables in Europe, as activists urge the EU to dump fossil fuels like coal. Activists also painted the roads in the EU quarter of Brussels with biodegradable yellow paint to turn the Schuman roundabout into a giant sun, but this was removed by the fire brigade.Sunrise Action in Brussels, Belgium. 9 October 2017.

But right now, we need your help to really make sure our voices are heard and that Europe becomes the symbol of a new energy era in the fight against climate change.

 #RiseUp with us and sign our call to Europe here and don’t forget to share this Facebook video with your friends and family!

Cristiana De Lia is an Engagment Strategist with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe

 



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Nuclear security: power plants are poorly...

The nuclear power plants around us are “The Sword of Damocles” over our heads. A new report by independent experts, submitted to authorities in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg, questions security at French and Belgian nuclear facilities and points at their vulnerability to outside attacks. These experts are particularly concerned about a certain type of facility at nuclear plants: the spent fuel storage pools. These pools tend to contain the highest volume of radioactive matter in a nuclear plant and are very poorly protected. Rather than wait for the worst to happen, let’s address this issue and take action.

nuclear-spent-fuel-pools

What does the report say?

Because it contains sensitive information about security at French and Belgian nuclear facilities, the report will not be released to the general public. It will be submitted by Greenpeace France, Greenpeace Belgium, Greenpeace Germany, Greenpeace Switzerland and Greenpeace Luxembourg to the relevant nuclear security authorities in order to alert them to the issue.

Click here to read the Executive Summary of the full report.

Independent experts who contributed to the writing of this report reviewed nuclear power plants in France and Belgium, and focused on the ability of spent fuel storage pools to withstand a malicious attack.

Fuel pools: the Achilles heel of French and Belgian nuclear plants

Spent fuel pools are used to temporarily store the fuel from nuclear reactors. After irradiation in a reactor core, the fuel is still very hot and radioactive. It needs to be cooled in the water of these ponds, which also provides shielding from radiation. After a few years, a tiny part of this fuel will be “reprocessed”, while the remaining fuel waits for a final storage solution.

Nuclear-Power-Plant-Fessenheim-France-Bernd-Lauter-May-2017Nuclear Power Plant Fessenheim in France, May 2017

A spent fuel storage pool can hold several tonnes of radioactive fuel, equal to two or three times the volume of its reactor’s core.

In the event of an outside attack, if a pool is damaged and loses its water, the fuel is no longer cooled and a nuclear accident begins: massive amounts of radioactivity escape into the atmosphere with very serious consequences.  

While the reactor building is equipped with a reinforced containment structure, spent fuels pools are very poorly protected.

Confirmed criminal intents against nuclear activities and facilities

When these nuclear facilities opened, about 40 years ago, the threats identified were not the same as the ones today. Since the 9-11 attacks, the geopolitical situation has changed - we all know, the current climate is tense. An isolated individual or criminal organisation, independent of any State, has the ability to undertake a malicious act which could not be countered by conventional security measures. And in recent years, people with criminal intent have shown clear signs of interest in nuclear facilities and activities.

The risk looming over nuclear plants cannot be ignored any longer. France’s nuclear operator, EDF, must act responsibly and stop putting French citizens and their European neighbours in danger. Updates to secure these parts of power plants are necessary. The same applies to plants in Belgium, where spent fuel pools at Doel and Tihange, operated by Engie-Electrabel, are equally ill-protected.

The French and Belgian nuclear plants are under threat, in risk of nuclear accidents and have poorly protected pools: this is a serious and worrying issue. But not a reason to stay silent.  Given the number of nuclear reactors in France, all French citizens are affected. People living close to these facilities in Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany are also affected. Greenpeace France wishes to play its role as whistle-blower in a prudent and responsible way by reporting on this risk.

Mehdi Leman is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace France.



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How pioneering brands are slowing down fast...

The fashion industry is considered to be one of the most polluting in the world. Its material-intensive business model relies heavily on our addiction to overconsumption and feeds the destruction of the planet.

There is one way to solve the problem: slowing down fashion. We need a model that doesn’t compromise on ethical, social and environmental values and involves customers, rather than encouraging them to binge buy ever-changing trends.

At Milan Fashion Week this year, Greenpeace Italy decided to give the podium to the pioneers of sustainable fashion, who are changing the way we wear our clothes. These are the companies behind some of the examples from the Greenpeace Germany report “Fashion at the Crossroads”.

We chose to highlight the three most important ways to create clothes that don’t harm the planet: Make it last, Make it right, Make it different.

Make it last

Hilke Patzwall from Vaude

 "One of our key problems is too much consumption. It's important to inform consumers about all the consequences of fast fashion, but it is even more important that the industry takes on their responsibility. As a brand, we need to make products with a physical and emotional durability, and provide the infrastructure so that consumers can live up to slowing the loop."

Eliina Brinkberg and Hilke Patzwall -  Massimo GuidiEliina Brinkberg and Hilke Patzwall at the event in Milan 

Eliina Brinkberg from Nudie Jeans 

"At Nudie Jeans, we encourage our customers to wear their jeans longer by offering free repairs. We’re so happy to be brought up as an example of being on the right track and we share Greenpeace's belief that prolonging the life of our clothes is one of the most important ways of slowing down the flow of materials in the fashion industry."

"By appreciating true craftsmanship, learning to love and care for our clothes and by buying less and wearing longer, we can create a more sustainable textile industry."

Make it right 

Andrea Cavicchi, part of the Italian Detox Consortium 

Andrea Cavicchi - by Massimo Guidi

"In the Prato area of Tuscany, we've been making sustainable fabric since the 12th century. We use production techniques where wool fibres are reused to produce new fabrics, allowing the recovery of fibres and textile waste materials. Used clothes that would normally be thrown away are reintroduced into the production cycle as raw materials. The first manufacturing companies to sign up to Greenpeace’s Detox Commitment were in the Prato textile district."  

"Now the Italian Detox Consortium is applying the Detox approach to the virtuous process of recycling textile fibres by promoting an investigation of the chemical contamination of regenerated articles and finding out what we can do to solve it. We ensure the traceability of the recycled textile material with their certification and by working with an international authority."

Enrica Arena from Orange Fiber

Enrica Arena - Massimo Guidi

"We believe that a sustainable and ethical business model - one which considers the environmental and human costs of manufacture to be as crucial as profit - together with a circular approach to material sourcing and design, are the keys to closing the loop in the fashion industry and taking our world beyond the next season."

"We’re faithful to our motto, “the future is not a place we’re going to, but a place we create”, and continue to research new raw materials and develop ways to improve our manufacturing process. People who wear a dress made out of our fabrics are not just consumers, but contributors to a more sustainable future. This is the contemporary way to construct an ethical and sustainable lifestyle; one that looks further than status and considers the future of our world.” 

 

 

Make it different 

Pola Fendel from Kleiderei 

 Pola Fendel - Massimo Guidi

“Society is definitely shifting. Consumers are starting to question more. The amount of people who want to buy less and choose quality over quantity is growing. The projects and companies represented on Greenpeace's Fashion at the Crossroads panel all feed into this change in society whilst shaping and broadening it. We are increasing attention to this topic and providing much needed alternatives to fast fashion and over-consumption.”

Arielle Lévy from L’Herbe Rouge

Arielle Lévy - Massimo Guidi

"Sustainability is a state of mind. The stakes are high for fashion.  I believe that we have to inspire the economy by showing the success of new business models, especially post carbon initiatives. This is the only way our highly polluting industry can protect people, consumers and the planet."

"As far as the L'Herbe Rouge business model is concerned, our four pillars have proved that une autre mode est possible (another fashion is possible):

  • Coherence of chain of value: eco design, eco production, eco distribution.

  • Eco frugality: minimise resources and maximise added value (product and service).

  • Innovation: in order to find new answers and create local jobs and autonomy for companies.

  • Affordable quality: fair and accessible prices, direct selling, no intermediary, democratisation through slow wear.

Shifting mindsets

How do we thank the marvellous people working so tirelessly to change fashion for the better? We chose to give the final word to a Greenpeace ally:

Orsola de Castro from the Fashion Revolution

Orsola de Castro - Massimo Guidi

"Before technology and the advancement of the Circular Economy will save us, we have to slow down mass production and accelerated consumption."

"Now that consumers are asking questions, and an increasing number of brands are beginning to understand that tomorrow’s loyalty will demand sustainable innovation, we need to encourage a culture where people are encouraged to challenge brands to be more ethical."

"If we increase the visibility of smaller slow-fashion brands we can make the fashion industry much more biodiverse. Small really is beautiful!"

 

 

Our next challenge is changing people’s minds.

Gabriele Salari is the Communications Specialist for the Detox My Fashion campaign in Greenpeace Italy





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The many faces defending the Great Northern...

“Hi, would you like to have your photograph taken to help protect the Great Northern Forest?”

Earlier this year, we  took to the streets to ask people this very question. Our dream is that the critical forest landscapes in this beautiful forest should be protected. Not just for the unique species that call it home, but also to stabilise the planet’s climate for us all.

Forest near Lake Blecktjärnen in SwedenWhat's at risk - beautiful forest in Sweden 

We know it can be done, but we can’t do it alone.

Many of the people behind this dream couldn’t come with us in person, so we took their portraits with us to help keep an eye on one of the last remaining truly wild forests in Sweden and prevent it from being logged.

Giant Portraits in Swedish High Value Forest Threatened by LoggingThe faces of people defending the forest

Nearly 300 people are with us: the faces of young and old, of all genders, colours and backgrounds.

Giant Portraits in Swedish High Value Forest Threatened by LoggingGiant portraits guard the forest

These last remaining truly wild forests are under serious threat, both here in Sweden, and all across the Great Northern Forest. Our research found that this exact spot could be logged any day now.

Across from us is a stark reminder of what’s at risk: a mangled and barren clearcut where a similar green forest once stood.

That’s why we’re here.

Aerial View of Forest and Clear Cut in SwedenClear cut forest in Sweden

As I walk through this beautiful, biodiverse forest, it’s truly inspiring to see the diversity of the faces of people who also believe these unique places should be protected. I’m reminded of their voices too. “To save old forests is to save old wisdom and future life,” says Karl from Sweden. I pass by a photo of Anna-Kaisa from Finland who says, “Without forests, we have no roots.”

Giant Portraits in Swedish High Value Forest Threatened by LoggingPortraits of forest protectors

These forests are our route to a hopeful future; a future where biodiversity flourishes and the global climate is stable.

Protecting them will take a movement of people ready to stand and act together.

Even if you couldn’t be in the forest with us today, you can join the movement asking Europe’s largest tissue giant Essity to stop wiping away the Great Northern Forest.


Ethan Gilbert is a volunteer coordinator with Greenpeace Nordic

 



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Air pollution hurts children the most

The World Health Organisation declared that air pollution is one of the greatest public health challenges the world is facing right now.

To understand where air pollution comes from, Greenpeace has conducted independent air quality measurements in different cities around the world. In the Russian capital, Moscow, the results our tests unveiled were startling.

Air pollution is one of the most important environmental problems in large cities. To solve it, Greenpeace is conducting an international campaign Clean Air Now. Many people still think that the main source of air pollution in large cities is an industry. It is not so: 80-90% of air pollution is caused by urban transport. Greenpeace initiated an independent study of air quality in different cities of Europe and Russia to draw attention to this problem and to tell about its real causes. Children are most affected by air pollution so it was decided to research the air quality near kindergartens located close to major highways in Moscow.An AQMesh air quality measurment device in Moscow. 23 June, 2017.

In Moscow, tests were conducted at five kindergartens during different weather conditions over a period of 24 hours. The results revealed that official limits for hazardous substances — including nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen monoxide and ozone — were exceeded close to areas where children live and go to school.

The highest pollution level was recorded near a children’s medical center in southwest Moscow, at the intersection of the busiest city highways — Leninsky avenue and Lomonosovsky avenue. In calm weather the average concentration of nitrogen dioxide was near 60 mgr/cubic meter — 1.5 times higher than the Russian daily mean limit.

Emissions levels around kindergardens in Moscow

Even though many people in Russia still think the main source of air pollution in large cities is industry, the reality is that 80-90% of air pollution is caused by urban transport.

Research from professor Boris Revich, Head of the Laboratory of Forecasting Environmental Quality and Public Health in the Institute of Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences, revealed that children are most at risk as breathing happens closer to the ground, where concentrations of these toxic substances are significantly higher.

And, as Professor Revich explains, the problem is becoming more and more severe. When he carried out initial research several decades ago, the roads looked like “small quiet streams” compared to the terrible quality of air in the cities today.

But this is a problem that is not just impacting Russian cities. Toxic fumes pumped out by cars and trucks are damaging young lungs in cities around the world, as Professor Jonathan Grigg, Professor of Paediatric and Respiratory Medicine at Queen Mary University, explains:

“Air pollution from urban transport, especially diesel, is a serious threat to health. What’s particularly worrying is the effect on children, since these have consequences lasting decades. Exposure of children to traffic fumes which contain sooty particles and nitrogen dioxide slows the growth of the lungs, increases the risk of pneumonia and development of asthma. In children who have asthma, high pollution days may trigger more severe attacks.”

The results of Greenpeace’s tests raise concerns for children throughout Moscow. Almost 500 of the capital's 2,121 kindergartens are located within 100 meters of four-lane roads. 123 are close to six-lane roads, and 61 are close to a road with eight or more lanes.

Greenpeace Russia is inviting the Government of Moscow to address this problem by creating special areas around kindergartens and children's hospitals, where the entry of environmentally unfriendly transport should be prohibited. You can support them by signing this petition to clean up the air that children breathe.

Arin de Hoog is a content editor with Greenpeace International



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Great news for bees - time to say goodbye to...

It’s party time for bees and other species, because, starting today, the chemical pesticide fipronil can’t be used anymore in agriculture across Europe.

Fipronil is a common pesticide used in agriculture and sparked an international food scandal last summer because the toxic substance was used illegally in chicken stables, contaminating eggs and eggs derivatives. So far, 26 European countries and 23 non-EU countries -- in total 49 countries -- have been affected. The extent of the contamination shows how our food and agriculture system is broken. It’s time to leave toxic substances behind and rethink the food we eat and produce.

During the night of 15th to 16th of September a giant bee was presented on the facade of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw to bring attention to problems related to bee population in Poland and to encourage people to take action by participating in the "Adopt a bee" campaign.Laser projection on the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw. 16 September, 2016

However, improper and illegal use of fipronil is not the only concern. Fipronil is also notorious because it’s harmful to bees and other pollinators. In the past, it was widely used on crops to protect crops against pests. Low doses of fipronil were applied to the seeds before sowing. The end result was the intoxication of the bees harvesting on the nectar and pollen of those fields treated with the toxic chemical.

Fipronil used on crops posed an unacceptable risk to bees and Greenpeace has been actively pushing for a phase-out of fipronil as part of its “Save the bees” campaign. In 2013 the European Commission strongly restricted the use of fipronil in agriculture.

Greenpeace activists dressed like working-bees on "strike", protest in front of the Agriculture Ministry, asking for a total ban of neonicotinoid pesticides.Bees action at Agriculture Ministry in Rome. 11 May, 2017.

Fipronil use has been gradually reduced since then, and more and more EU countries stopped using it. From today onwards the use of fipronil on crops is forbidden in the entire EU. This is great news for bees, bumblebees, butterflies and many other insects.

However, other harmful pesticides are still on the market, threatening bees and other species. Neonicotinoids, which were also partially restricted in 2013, are now in the eye of the storm as mounting scientific evidence shows their toxic effects on bees and other species.

Recent data has shown that neonicotinoids are dangerous in fields, not only when tested in laboratories. Last March the European Commission put forward a proposal to further restrict clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, the three most known neonicotinoides. However, no decision or action to ban them has been taken despite the evidence of their hazardous effects indicates that they should also go.

Tackling individual substances is a short term solution, however it doesn’t address the heart of the matter: industrial agriculture is not viable as it poses too many risks for our planet. A different agricultural model must be adopted globally and urgently. Ecological farming can help us face big challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss or water pollution. It also provides healthy sustainable food for everybody.

Wheat grown at GAEC (Groupement Agricole d’Exploitation en Commun) Les Sources de l'Yon, an ecological farming group. The farm has improved its ecological practices by growing its own grains and oil seeds for animal feed and using a machinery (called “toaster” in French), to toast the grains, facilitating their digestion. Through this practice the farm has also reduced the import of cattle food.Wheat in ecological farm in France. 21 June, 2017.

With the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to be debated soon in the EU, we will have a chance to discuss how to promote ecological farming and avoid further food scandals and to stop the decline of bees and other species.

In the meantime, here's 12 things you can do to start an eco-food revolution. 

Luís Ferreirim is a Food for Life campaigner with Greenpeace Spain



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Articles last updated at Oct 21, 2017 13:52:01pm.
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