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McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC: Stop the Amazon fires

Fri, 2019-09-06 11:27

Fires have been raging through Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest for weeks. But what do major global fast food companies like McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King have to do with them? 

KFC buys chicken from Brazil which ends up in its UK outlets. Not only does Burger King buy beef directly from Brazil, it is owned by a Brazilian billionaire through the company 3G Capital. And in August 2016, McDonald’s in Brazil began buying meat raised in the Amazon region for the first time since 1986 – after a gap of 30 years. 

As well as directly sourcing poultry, KFC’s chickens are fed a diet of soya direct from the forests of Brazil. This is propping up a powerful system that is encouraging aggressive expansion of agribusiness into the Brazilian Amazon. KFC, McDonalds and Burger King are the biggest names in fast food. Their shops are at virtually every high street across the UK. If these fast food companies speak out against forest destruction and change their ways, an entire industry could follow, leaving Bolsonaro without anyone to buy his goods from deforestation.

Fires have been started deliberately by farmers to clear land in response to President Bolsonaro’s calls to open the Amazon up to expanded food production. Close to 2.5 million hectares of land – an area larger than Wales – was burned in the Brazilian Amazon during August, according to data published by INEP, Brazil’s agency responsible for monitoring forest clearances. 

Cattle and chicken rearing – and soya agriculture to feed these animals worldwide – form a significant part of Brazil’s export economy. Fast food companies therefore have significant power through their purchasing decisions to send the Brazilian government a strong message: that consumers don’t want food tainted by forest destruction.  

McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and other similar companies have promised to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, but they are failing to meet these commitments. Tell them to stop sourcing meat, chicken and soya from Brazil until the Amazon and its people are protected:

The post McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC: Stop the Amazon fires appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Lack of climate investment creating ’planet-sized debt’ for our kids, new Chancellor warned

Mon, 2019-09-02 09:35

A broad group of eighteen civil society organisations, supported by millions of British people, has warned the new Chancellor that the government is on course to miss its net zero target and burden the next generation with a ‘planet-sized debt’. This can be averted, and the forces of a clean industrial revolution unleashed, with a climate emergency budget to boost investment in infrastructure vital for the climate and nature.

In a letter to Sajid Javid, leading NGOs from the environmental, development and health sectors are urging him to use the upcoming Spending Round, anticipated on Wednesday 4th September, to kickstart an ambitious programme of public investment to boost clean infrastructure in ways that can tackle social inequality, create jobs, improve people’s lives, and protect British wildlife and nature.

The UK has shown leadership by becoming the first major economy to introduce a net zero carbon target by 2050. But ministers have come under heavy criticism from their own advisers for failing to make progress on cutting emissions, with just one of 25 key policies being delivered over the last year.

The group of NGOs have come up with a costed roadmap to tackle the climate and nature emergency. It estimates the government will need to more than double public investment on climate and nature, from the current £17 billion a year to at least £42 billion, equivalent to about 5% of government spending, if it is to put us on track to meet its legally binding net zero target. This investment is in key areas like transport, power, housing, nature protection and support for a just transition, where the UK urgently needs improvements.

During the leadership contest, Boris Johnson said he would be willing to increase public spending to build ‘great infrastructure projects’, but without specifying what those projects might be. Polling conducted by Opinium for the NGOs showed that most people (52%) think the government should be spending more on climate and nature, compared to 8% who think we should be spending less. This matches the 52% percent of people who are ‘very concerned’ about climate change, according to a recent ipsosMORI poll, up from just 18% five years ago. Of those who wanted an increase in the government’s climate and nature spending, 86% would like to see a total in line with these recommendations or higher.

Campaigners are warning the Chancellor that failing to deal with the climate and nature emergency now will be the ‘mother of all false economies’, driving up costs, causing more damage to the natural world, and leaving issues like draughty homes, poor public transport and air pollution unaddressed.

A landmark review carried out by Lord Stern in 2006 estimated that the global economic costs of not tackling climate change would be 5% GDP in 2050, or 11-14% GDP when wider impacts like health were included. Progress since has not been enough to assuage his concerns, and Stern now believes the numbers are likely to be worse.

The letter argues that as well as creating thousands of jobs, investing in the right infrastructure will make Britain a cleaner, healthier and safer place to live. Warmer homes will cut energy bills, as well as the health and economic costs of poor housing, which could be as high as £18.6 billion. Cleaner air will cut costs from air pollution, estimated at £5.3 billion in health and social impacts in England alone. Better public transport will ease congestion, estimated to cost £8 billion per year. Nature restoration will reduce flood risk, boost tourism and improve mental health. Properly funded local authorities will help create better, more secure jobs through skills development, retraining and local investment, especially in areas where there are currently workers in high-carbon industries.

Campaigners say some of the money to fund the programme could come from phasing out £10 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting funds from high-carbon projects such as road building (£25bn) and Heathrow expansion (£16bn), which make net zero more difficult and expensive to reach. They also call for a reformed tax system to help shift behaviour away from polluting activities, while helping to address adverse social consequences of the transition. For example, a frequent flyer levy would ensure that the burden of aviation tax falls on those who fly most frequently.


Jon Stenning, Head of Environment, Cambridge Econometrics, said:

 “Policymakers often talk about the costs of mitigating climate change. However, our analysis shows that such action can also benefit the economy, and early investment can reduce long-term costs of low carbon technologies such as heat pumps. To avoid the worst impacts and costs of climate change, and realise the government’s ambition to lead the global response to climate change, a substantial increase in government support for zero carbon solutions is required.”


Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB said: 

“Nature can’t afford a delay for action on the climate crisis- and we can’t either. The longer we wait the more it will cost us.

 “If our leaders act now we can take advantage of the solutions that nature offers us. Restoring important wildlife habitats such as peatlands, meadows and forests will not only provide a home for some of our best loved species but also lock in and draw down carbon.”


Faustine Delasalle, Director, Energy Transitions Commission, said: 

“Analysis from the Energy Transitions Commission shows that we can technically deliver net zero emissions at a cost of less than 1% of global GDP; but it will not happen spontaneously. In key sectors like power and light-duty transport, low-carbon technologies are increasingly cost-competitive without any subsidies and governments can act straight away to deploy the necessary infrastructure. Meanwhile, a rapid uptick in government support for new technologies, like hydrogen, required to decarbonise the harder-to-abate sectors of the economy (like heavy industry, shipping or aviation) is economically sensible and absolutely necessary for our future well-being.”


Rachel Reeves, Chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:

“We have a moral imperative to act and the Government should use the Spending Review to show it is serious about tackling the climate crisis. Boosting the cash available for making homes and other buildings more energy efficient would be the single cheapest way to cut our country’s carbon emissions. There also needs to be a commitment to investing in the necessary charging infrastructure that will allow drivers to confidently switch to cleaner and greener electric vehicles.

“Failing to commit now will cost more later and burden future generations. Delay is no longer an option when it comes to the climate emergency and the Government should grasp the opportunity to ensure the UK leads the way in the transition to a low carbon economy.”


John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said: 

“Global temperatures, sea levels, and extinction rates are rising relentlessly, and targets alone will not make them stop. No one in government is still trying to argue that this is not an emergency, and yet no one in government is acting as though it is. We are still constantly pumping carbon into the atmosphere, and trying to ignore the problem will leave our children with a damaged world and a planet-sized debt. There’s a strong economic case and an overwhelming moral imperative for the Chancellor to act.”


Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth, said:

“The country is united in wanting an urgent response to the climate crisis and so it’s time for politicians to finally put their money where their mouth is. Introducing a climate emergency budget will mean we can invest in creating warm homes, clean air, easy ways for people to get around and a thriving UK renewable industry. This is the investment Britain is crying out for.”


Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF, said:

“The climate emergency is the biggest environmental crisis of our time. Nature, our planet’s life-support system is in freefall. Heatwaves, droughts and floods are more frequent and more intense because of climate breakdown, putting homes and lives at risk. By destroying our natural world and its resources, we are destroying the very thing we all need to survive and our children’s futures depend on – and this is hitting the poorest hardest and costing the global economy billions each year. Failing to act now would be the mother of all false economies, we must invest in restoring the environment and tackling climate change at home and abroad so that nature can fight back.”


Lynne Stubbings, Chair of The National Federation of Women’s Institutes, said

 “In the midst of a climate emergency, people across the UK are sending a clear message to the Government that we need further and faster action to protect our environment and safeguard our planet for the future. We were pleased to see Government commit to net-zero by 2050, but we now need to see this level of ambition reflected in Government policies and action.

 “This is something we know WI members feel passionately about. In a recent survey, 80% of our 200 Climate Ambassadors said they were most worried about the challenges future generations will face. WI members are committed to tackling climate change by raising awareness and making changes in their own lives, such as planting more trees, increasing their support for renewable energy and better insulating their homes. We need Government to show leadership by playing its part and making budgetary decisions that support and incentivise people to make environmentally responsible choices.”


Kiri Hanks, Oxfam’s climate policy adviser, said: 

“We are calling on the Government to back up its ambitions with real funding. This must be enough to end our contribution to carbon emissions, but also to help developing countries take action. This money should come increasingly from new sources of revenue rather than simply raiding the overseas aid budget. The poorest countries should not have to choose between adapting to climate change and critical spending on schools and hospitals.”


Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD, said: 

“The government has a golden opportunity to invest in the infrastructure the UK needs to thrive and to help British people access the green jobs of the future, and to limit the UK’s contribution to climate change and help protect the world’s poorest people, who are already suffering its effects. Delivering the climate emergency investment the UK needs can only bring benefits to both the UK and our global neighbours.”



Greenpeace UK Press Office – [email protected] or 020 7865 8255 / 02801 212 960



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Categories: Activist News

REVEALED – Tonnes of shark fins exported from Britain every year

Mon, 2019-07-29 21:33

As the world marks Shark Week 2019, an investigation by Greenpeace UK’s award-winning journalism unit exposes Britain’s little known role in fuelling the global market for shark fins.

The majority of sharks in European and UK waters are being caught by Spanish vessels. Sharks are being landed in the UK, and their fins are then sent to Spain, one of the world’s biggest shark fin exporters. From there they’re sold on to meet demand, largely in certain Asian countries, where shark fin soup is considered a delicacy.

EU rules state sharks can only have their fins removed once they have been landed. However, it is not illegal to buy or sell certain types of shark fin in the UK, so long as traders adhere to regulations.

“Many people will be gobsmacked to hear that Britain is fuelling a controversial global trade threatening a majestic predator that’s vital to life in our oceans,” said Will McCallum, head of oceans at Greenpeace UK. “With tens of millions of sharks being killed every year, the UK government should do all it can to protect these creatures, starting with a ban on shark fin exports.”

He added: “We are campaigning for limits on shark fishing and also at the UN for a strong Global Ocean Treaty which will help shark populations recover from decades of overfishing and provide greater protection for marine life in our seas”.

Data from HMRC, which only goes back to January 2017, reveals that shark fins valued at over £300,000 were sent to Spain between 2017 and the present day. In the first five months of 2019, the UK has sent almost 12 tonnes of shark fins, worth £92,000, to Spain.

Graham Buckingham from shark conservation organisation ‘Bite Back’ told Unearthed: “The sheer volume of shark fins being exported by the UK is a shocking indication that global demand for shark fin soup remains high and that sharks from EU waters are paying the price. When you consider that Spain, France, Portugal and Britain feature in the top 25 shark fishing nations in the world it’s clear that European fishing fleets are making the most of the fact that there are still no catch limits for blue, mako and tope sharks.”

The Unearthed investigation comes three months after dozens of dead sharks with their fins cut off washed up on a beach in Wales. In June, Greenpeace launched a new report, Sharks Under Attack‘ which reveals how a lack of protection in international waters is resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of endangered sharks each year.  The report highlights the devastating impact that overfishing is having on shortfin mako shark populations, the world’s fastest shark, which is closely related to the great white. Greenpeace’s analysis shows that Spanish and Portuguese ships in the north Atlantic area are catching as many as 25,000 mako sharks annually

“Its unacceptable that while the future of more than a quarter of shark populations hangs in the balance, it remains legal to buy or sell shark fin in the UK. Sharks are vital to the health of marine ecosystems. Maintaining populations of shark and other fish species at the top of the food chain is critical to keeping the right balance of marine life in our oceans”, said Will McCallum.

Despite high-profile campaigns backed by celebrities Jackie Chan and David Beckham to stop people eating shark fin, demand for the luxury food remains high in East Asia. Conservation organisation WildAid estimate that finning could wipe out an estimated 73 million sharks every year.

Sharks are also known to play an important role in mitigating climate change. Researchers at Bournemouth University found in 2016 that poor management of the oceans, specifically through overfishing and practices like shark finning, could have negative consequences for the global climate, allowing shark prey to proliferate which in turn generates increased CO2 levels. Ends.

Notes to Editors:

  • For media enquiries contact Patrick Fuller, press officer, Greenpeace UK. Mob: 07377730878 Email: [email protected]
  • The Greenpeace report, Sharks Under Attack, can be downloaded here.
  • As many as 32 species of shark can be found in UK waters, according to the conservation group Shark Trust. This includes some rare and protected species like porbeagle sharks, listed as critically endangered in parts of the Atlantic Ocean by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and blue sharks, the most widely fished open ocean shark, which are listed as “near threatened.”
  • Canada recently became the first country in the G7 to ban imports of shark fins, after banning finning in its own waters in 1994.
  • Greenpeace and scientists are calling for a Treaty that can create a network of ocean sanctuaries covering at least a third of the global oceans by 2030. For more information see Protect the Global Oceans: Why We Need a Global Ocean Treaty. The second of four rounds of negotiation at the UN towards a treaty covering international waters took place in March and April this year. The third round of negotiations will take place at the United Nations in New York in August 2019, with the treaty process set to conclude with a fourth and final round in the first half of 2020.

The post REVEALED – Tonnes of shark fins exported from Britain every year appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Why we just blocked Boris Johnson on his way to see the Queen

Wed, 2019-07-24 14:13

If you tuned in to see Boris Johnson become our latest Prime Minister, you might have seen that we interrupted him on his way to see the Queen. Because if there’s one thing that it’s worth delaying matters of state over, it’s the climate emergency we’re in. Now it’s Boris Johnson’s job to steer us to climate safety.

Boris Johnson’s journey to Buckingham Palace was interrupted by our volunteers with a Climate Emergency message.

This is a crucial moment in history. What happens next is on his watch.

Sign the petition telling him to act on climate now >

— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) July 24, 2019

In the peak of our latest heatwave – the second to hit the UK in two months – we just saw Boris Johnson officially become our latest Prime Minister. We can see clearer than ever that our climate is breaking down.

It will be Boris Johnson’s job to help tackle the climate emergency that’s dangerously heating our planet and threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. What happens next will be on his watch.

But this is a man whose campaign has been partly funded by a climate denier, who seems to care little about people beyond our borders (and sometimes within), and whose personal ambition seems to take priority.

His job right now is crucial. We’ve delivered our message, but will he act?

What exactly does Boris Johnson need to do?

Boris Johnson might be good at coming up with words but what we really need to see is action.

The UK has recently become the first major economy to introduce a net zero carbon target by 2050. But to make this target into policy, we’ll need a dedicated budget to fund vital infrastructure for climate and nature.

If this doesn’t happen, the government will fail to meet its net zero target and burden the next generation with a ‘planet-sized debt’. But is Boris Johnson up to the challenge?

Today we handed him our full Climate Emergency Manifesto with all 134 action points that’ll help to steer us to climate safety. Read the manifesto in full.

The post Why we just blocked Boris Johnson on his way to see the Queen appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Four reasons why the International Seabed Authority shouldn’t be trusted to protect our oceans

Wed, 2019-07-24 10:50

Activists from around the world have sailed on board the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, to join in a peaceful assembly in front of one of the battlegrounds for protecting the deep oceans from monster mining machines: the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is hosting its 25th Assembly in Kingston, Jamaica.

BREAKING! We're with @jamentrust in Jamaica to tell the International Seabed Authority @ISBAHQ to stop selling our oceans to the greedy #DeepSeaMining industry.

Let's put protection before profit!

Add your voice to #ProtectTheOceans>>

— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) July 23, 2019

Created in 1994, the ISA is meant to organise and regulate deep sea mining activities in the international seabed (outside of national waters).

But – spoiler alert – far from protecting our oceans, they are selling it off to greedy industries that are trying to plunder our ocean floor for profit.

Here are four reasons why we can’t trust the ISA to take care of our precious seabeds.

Reason 1: They are obsessed with deep sea mining

Currently, ocean law focuses more on the right to exploit marine resources in international waters than on a duty to protect them.

The ISA has no capacity to protect deep sea environments from the build up of different stresses – whether from drilling and mining, or from threats associated with climate change and plastic pollution. Nor does it have the ability to protect marine life in the broader ocean that could be threatened from toxic plumes, noise and light pollution as a result of deep sea mining.

Reason 2: They ignore environmental concerns

The ISA’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) process has been criticised for prioritising development of deep sea mining over protection: EIAs are carried out by mining companies and not independently verified. Nor are they shared with the governments who are deciding on whether to grant a permit, let alone the public at large.

Of the people who make the decision on what environmental considerations need to be made only three out of 30 members have biological or ecological expertise. Meeting behind closed doors, this commission keeps key information about what is being found by contractors in the deep sea confidential – including when companies are breaching standards.

Reason 3: They’re consistently on the side of the deep sea mining companies

In practice, the ISA has already started selling off some of the great wonders of the deep ocean to explore for deep sea mining. They have never yet turned down a licence application for exploratory mining – even those covering amazing places like the Lost City that global nature treaties have highlighted as ecologically important.

And some members of the ISA do have a very cosy relationship with industry: corporations have begun speaking on behalf of governments at ISA meetings, and some government applications for exploration contracts have even been prepared and funded by deep sea mining companies.

Reason 4: They are undermining negotiations towards a strong Global Ocean Treaty

The ISA is lobbying for a weaker Global Ocean Treaty, one that would be less able to overcome the fragmented ocean governance that is driving marine life to the brink of destruction.

In fact, they responded to Greenpeace International’s latest report “In deep water” by saying that it is inaccurate – despite a chorus of voices from scientists and environmental experts rallying for stronger protection of the deep sea.

The ISA Secretariat even said that the fact that Lost City has been designated by global nature treaties as ecologically significant ‘has no relevance’, which shows exactly why we need a Global Ocean Treaty to put marine protection first.

A strong Global Ocean Treaty could pave the way for the creation of a network of ocean sanctuaries that will be off-limits to all forms of industrial exploitation, including deep sea mining, as well as raising environmental standards that put protection, not exploitation, at the heart of how we manage the global oceans.

Join the movement and sign the petition for a strong Global Ocean Treaty

The post Four reasons why the International Seabed Authority shouldn’t be trusted to protect our oceans appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

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