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One of the world’s biggest oil companies has promised to produce much less oil. Here’s what you need to know.

Fri, 2020-08-07 15:33

On August 4th 2020, the fossil fuel giant BP announced it will slash its oil and gas production and ramp up its renewable energy business over the next 10 years.

By 2030, BP says it will:

  • Produce 40% less oil and gas.
  • Generate 20 times more renewable energy.
  • Invest 10 times more in low-carbon technology.

Let’s be clear: BP is still a fossil fuel company. Even if you ignore the troubling small-print in BP’s plans (more on that below), fossil fuels are still the problem. And given BP’s history of making big green promises that never come to anything (‘Beyond Petroleum’, anyone), you’d be right to feel sceptical about this. 

But this is the first time ever that a major oil company has committed to keeping oil and gas in the ground. There’s loads more BP and the rest of the oil industry still needs to change, but if we can hold them to these promises, this will be a real step forward in our fight against the climate crisis

Progress doesn’t just happen

In recent years, we’ve seen the early stages of climate breakdown ruin millions of lives. But for way too long BP and other oil companies have tried to carry on like this crisis doesn’t exist. 

And they didn’t just keep digging, drilling and polluting in the face of the unfolding emergency. They’ve used their PR clout and political influence to delay meaningful climate action, sacrificing whole communities and habitats in their pursuit of profit.

11 workers died and millions of barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster – the worst oil spill in United States history. © The United States Coast Guard

But they’ve done all this under relentless pressure from people all over the world, including Greenpeace supporters, volunteers and activists. Thanks to people like you, BP’s recklessness has been challenged at every turn: on the streets, in the media, in the courts, and in the corridors of power. Now that pressure is starting to work.

For years, people campaigning against oil companies have been mocked or abused for speaking out. Some were even arrested or attacked. But together we kept going, inspired by each other, and energised by love for our shared home.

Greenpeace is just one part of this wider movement. But we can all be proud of the part we’ve played here in the UK. Let’s look back at some of the highlights:

 

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Categories: Activist News

Why social justice is key to a green recovery

Fri, 2020-08-07 13:48

Dealing with the first wave of coronavirus has upended our economy and transformed day-to-day life in the UK.  But most people don’t want to return to business as usual. Many of us want to see a more resilient society – one that’s better able to deal with major shocks and crises.

Coronavirus has highlighted just how unequal our society is in the UK. If we want to build back better, we have to make sure the system we create works for everyone. We can only do that by fighting racism and inequality as we rebuild. 

The climate emergency and its causes impact people of colour more

Did you know that waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built near communities of colour? That means that they live with worse levels of air pollution, which can seriously affect health. Air pollution can cause respiratory and heart disease, and also worsens conditions affecting the lungs – like coronavirus. Experts even believe that air pollution is likely to be increasing the number and severity of Covid-19 infections.

Black people in the UK are also four times more likely than white people to have no access to outdoor space at home, which impacts their ability to access nature. During lockdown, many of us have realised how fundamental the outdoors are to our wellbeing. Everyone should be able to enjoy it. 

The world is built to be more comfortable for some people than for others. But everyone should have access to the things they need to enjoy a healthier, safer, cleaner, greener future. 

Around the world, people of colour suffer the worst impacts of climate change – a problem which is mainly caused by richer, western countries. This is environmental racism. Returning to business as usual would disproportionately harm people of colour. But it doesn’t have to be that way – there are solutions.

Putting people before profit

Building back better means putting people before profit. Social justice has to be at the heart of the UK’s economic recovery plans to make sure existing inequalities don’t widen further.

As well as green proposals, recovery measures need to address income, health and environmental inequalities.

Tackling climate change and injustice should go hand in hand – caring for the planet and caring for people go together. This isn’t just charitable, or a ‘nice to have’. Many of the solutions to the climate emergency that the government can start on right away – creating green jobs, restoring nature, making it easier to cycle and walk – are good for people as well as for the planet. 

Policies which may not seem to be directly related to social justice have the potential to massively improve people’s lives – because for the changes to be as big as we need them to be, they need to be as accessible as possible. 

For example, home insulation is one of the things people have called for as part of the green recovery. As well as lowering energy bills for everyone, better housing standards will mean everyone has access to warm homes – potentially ending fuel poverty for good. 

Similarly, green jobs in renewable industries would provide the economic security which so many across society – particularly younger people – have been left without for many decades. 

Empowering workers, protecting public health and preserving nature are all fundamental to a green recovery. All of these things are connected, and that’s why a green recovery should also work to empower people who experience the most severe impacts of polluting industries and climate change. 

Social justice must be at the heart of the climate movement, to ensure that no one gets left behind. Of course it’s ambitious to try to tackle all of these issues at the same time – but that’s the point. Coronavirus upended our world at lightning speed, and it’s become clear now that almost everything has to change so that society can be kinder, greener and more resilient. 

Those charged with designing green recovery measures need to be imaginative and brave enough to build a better world – for everyone on the planet, not just a lucky few.

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Categories: Activist News

Tesco urged to cut links with forest destroyers as the Amazon burns

Tue, 2020-08-04 23:26

Today, Greenpeace UK launches a campaign against Tesco, calling on the UK’s largest supermarket to stop buying meat and dairy from companies involved in destroying the Amazon and to halve the amount of meat it sells by 2025 to protect people, wildlife and the climate.

Tesco is buying meat from two UK companies, Moy Park and Tulip, which are controlled by one of the world’s most notorious forest destroyers, JBS, the world’s largest meat-packing company [1]. JBS has been exposed time and time again for its part in deforesting the Amazon by Greenpeace – see new Still Slaughtering the Amazon report, published today – and has been fined billions of dollars by Brazilian regulators

A new investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Reporter Brasil, published this week, has also revealed for the first time that JBS is not just turning a blind eye to its suppliers’ violations but has been directly implicated in transporting deforestation-linked cattle to one of its own direct suppliers.

Industrial scale meat production, which includes clearing land for beef production and to grow crops like soya for animal feed, is the biggest driver of deforestation globally but a recent YouGov poll conducted for Greenpeace revealed that only 15% of Britons are aware of this. It also revealed that over half of Britons would consider rejecting meat products linked to deforestation and that one in four think supermarkets should sell less meat. [2]

Tesco sells more meat than any other UK supermarket [3] making its soya footprint the largest in the UK. Of the 3.2 million tonnes of soya the UK imports each year, the vast majority (68%) is from South America and most is for animal feed [4]. Tesco told Greenpeace it uses one sixth of that (516,000 tonnes), and 99 percent of it is used as feed to produce meat and dairy. 

Tesco promised to end its part in deforestation for commodities like soya by 2020 but in 2018 it quietly changed that goal to 2025 and still has not published a credible plan to show how it will be achieved. Instead of tracing soya back to the farm, it buys credits to offset. If Tesco is really serious about ending its part in the triple climate, nature and health emergencies we are facing, reducing meat and dairy sales in favour of more plant based options is the only way forward. [5]

In a year where Covid-19 has brought the rest of the world to a standstill, forest destruction has continued apace in Brazil and the country’s environment minister was even caught on video saying that the pandemic “offers a distraction during which the government can ‘run the cattle herd’ through the Amazon, ‘changing all the rules and simplifying standards’.”

Right now, fires are raging in the Amazon and other forests in South America, set deliberately to clear them for agriculture. Last month, the Amazon saw the largest number of fires for the month of June since 2007, while deforestation in the region is also increasing compared to last year. [6]

The fires are releasing millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change. They also kill wildlife, cause breathing difficulties and long term health issues for millions of Brazilians and threaten the very existence of Indigenous Peoples. On top of all that, the more forest that’s lost, the greater the risk of future pandemics. This is because wildlife is forced from deep in the forest into greater contact with people, raising the chance of deadly viruses passing from animals to humans. [6]

Anna Jones, head of forests, Greenpeace UK, said:
“The Amazon is perilously close to tipping point. Scientists warn that in fewer than 20 years it could collapse with catastrophic consequences for Indigenous groups, forest wildlife, our health and the climate. 

Tesco’s CEO knows we need to eat less meat and dairy to protect forests and stop climate breakdown. And yet the supermarket sells more of it than any other UK company and continues to buy from suppliers owned by Amazon destroyers.

“Tesco has completely failed to meet its 2020 zero-deforestation pledge and has kicked the can a further five years down the road. Claims that any of the soy in its meat supply chain is ‘deforestation free’ are also hugely misleading, since Tesco merely buys credits to offset soya use without tracing which farms it actually comes from. Unless Tesco commits to significantly reducing meat and dairy sales and drops forest destroyers immediately, vitally important forests will continue to be slashed and burned, and climate change and the risk of future pandemics will only get worse. 

“Our future depends on us eating less meat and dairy and more plant based food. This way, we could feed more people with all the calories and nutrition needed for a healthy diet without destroying forests.”

Other UK supermarkets and fast food companies are also guilty of churning out the industrial meat that’s fuelling deforestation including Sainsbury’s, Asda, Burger King, KFC and McDonald’s. But as the biggest by far, Tesco must lead the way. 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

Download footage and images of Amazon fires and Tesco meat products: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MDHUOP8_Q

[1] The world’s biggest meat packer JBS controls UK companies Tulip and Moy Park that churn out masses of soya-reared pork and chicken to supply big food retail brands. One of their biggest customers is Tesco. See still Slaughtering the Amazon report:
https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/44522/how-jbs-is-still-slaughtering-amazon 

[2] YouGov survey results:

https://docs.cdn.yougov.com/2zzlf3cmt4/Greenpeace_GlobalDeforestation_200715_W.pdf

https://docs.cdn.yougov.com/t11n3zqi3b/Greenpeace_Supermarkets_200711_W.pdf

  • 55% of those surveyed “would not consider buying meat from companies that buy meat from farms in areas that were recently Amazon rainforest”
  • 26% of those surveyed think supermarkets should sell less meat overall 
  • 10% chose cattle farming as the main contributor to global deforestation and 5% chose crop production for animal feed.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,658 adults for fieldwork undertaken between 10th – 12th July 2020. Total sample size was 1,671 adults for fieldwork undertaken between 14th – 15th July 2020. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[3] Tesco sells 362,486 tonnes of meat per year. See page 15 of Greenpeace Winging It report, published January 2020, for details on other retailers: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Greenpeace_WingingIt.pdf

[4] In total the UK annually imports approximately 3.2 million tonnes of soya bean equivalents directly in the form of soya beans, meal and oil. Of this figure, most soya is sourced from South America either directly (68%) or through the Netherlands, and from the USA: https://www.efeca.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/UK-RT-on-Sustainable-Soya-APR-2019-final.pdf

[5] Through global initiatives such as the New York Declaration on Forests or as members of the Consumer Goods Forum or Tropical Forest Alliance, companies and governments have pledged to end deforestation for agricultural commodities such as soya by 2020. 

Yet Tesco, which has repeatedly stressed its commitment to this goal, stated in 2018 that it will not ‘transition to sourcing [soya] from verified zero deforestation areas’ until 2025 – a significant and unacceptable delay. Worse, the company has consistently failed to explain how this will be achieved.
https://www.tescoplc.com/blog/uk-zero-deforestation-soy-transition-plan

[6] In June 2020, 2,248 fires were recorded in the Amazon, a 20 percent increase compared to June 2019 (1,800) and the largest recorded number for the month since 2007. All analysis based on data from INPE.

[7] A growing body of research suggests that, rather than deadly pathogens lying in wait for an opportune encounter with humans, the spillover of zoonotic viruses – like Nipah, Swine ‘Flu, Ebola and, now, Covid-19, amongst many others – are often triggered by human destruction and exploitation of wildlife-rich habitats:
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/04/24/deforestation-amazon-next-pandemic-covid-coronavirus/

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Categories: Activist News

BP to cut oil and gas production by 40% by 2030

Tue, 2020-08-04 07:16

In response to BP’s net zero announcement that it will cut oil and gas production by 40% by 2030, Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:

“BP has woken up to the immediate need to cut carbon emissions this decade. Slashing oil and gas production and investing in renewable energy is what Shell and the rest of the oil industry needs to do for the world to stand a chance of meeting our global climate targets. BP must go further, and needs to account for or ditch its share in Russian oil company, Rosneft. But this is a necessary and encouraging start.”

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Categories: Activist News

7 reasons why meat is bad for the environment

Mon, 2020-08-03 12:14

Meat – or more specifically, ‘industrial meat’ – is bad for the planet.

The vast majority of meat bought in the UK is produced in intensive factory farms. These farms are part of a destructive global system of industrial meat: mass-produced chicken, eggs, pork, fish, dairy, beef and lamb.

This system is driven by supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda; as well as fast food chains like KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s. Many of these household names buy industrial meat from companies owned by JBS – the largest meat processing company in the world. Through its meat production, JBS produces around half the carbon emissions of fossil fuel giants such as Shell or BP, and is driving deforestation in the Amazon.

The industrial meat system requires a huge amount of land to sustain itself. Forests, particularly in South America, are deliberately slashed and burned every year to graze cattle and grow enough crops to feed billions of farmed animals

Here’s why industrial meat is so bad for people and the planet:

It causes deforestation and forest fires

Industrial meat is the single biggest cause of deforestation globally. In Brazil, farmers are deliberately setting forest fires – like the Amazon rainforest fires you may have seen in the news – to clear space for cattle ranching and to grow industrial animal feed, like soya, for farms back in the UK.

It causes climate change

The climate impact of meat is enormous – roughly equivalent to all the driving and flying of every car, truck and plane in the world.

When forests are destroyed to produce industrial meat, billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming. The fallen trees are often left to rot on the forest floor or are burned, creating further emissions.

Healthy trees are essential for absorbing carbon from the atmosphere – if we cut them down, they can no longer help us in the fight against climate change.

It’s pushing the Amazon rainforest closer to a tipping point

Trees in the Amazon rainforest produce their own rainfall, which keeps the whole forest alive and healthy. If deforestation (for things like industrial meat) continues at the current rate, the Amazon could reach a ‘tipping point’, where it can no longer sustain itself as a rainforest.

This would have a devastating impact on the people and animals who live in, or depend on, the forest directly. It could also lead to less rainfall, affecting drinking water and irrigation across large parts of South America; and changes to climate patterns in other parts of the world too.

It’s responsible for human rights abuses and land-grabbing

Indigenous People and traditional communities – like the geraizeira communities in Brazil –  are at the frontline in the fight to protect forests. An investigation by Greenpeace Brazil showed that security forces working for soya producer Agronegócio Estrondo harassed, detained, abducted and shot members of the traditional geraizeira communities.

Meanwhile, President Bolsonaro and his government tacitly encourages illegal loggers, miners and farmers to occupy Indigenous lands, by rolling back historic regulations and trying to legalise land-grabbing. Land invasions often become violent and loggers have killed Indigenous People in these conflicts. Mass meat producer, JBS, has been repeatedly linked to suppliers who operate illegally on protected Indigenous lands.

Cattle ranches and soya producers in Brazil have a history of profiting from modern day slavery. That includes suppliers to JBS (the meat processing giant). JBS’ abattoirs have been linked to terrible working conditions, mass outbreaks of Covid-19 and salmonella-ridden chicken exports.

It’s killing wildlife

By clearing forests, destroying habitats and using toxic pesticides to grow animal food, the industrial meat industry is contributing to the extinction of thousands of species, many of which haven’t even been discovered yet.

We depend on a healthy environment for our own survival. The huge abundance and variety of the natural world (sometimes called biodiversity) is essential for food, clean water and medicines. The rapid loss of biodiversity, largely driven by industrial farming, could be as big a threat to our existence as climate change.

It’s increasing the risk of future pandemics like coronavirus

Destroying forests and other wild areas for animal agriculture is a major cause of new infectious diseases. Three quarters of the new diseases affecting humans come from animals. Cutting down and burning forests brings wildlife into closer contact with people, enabling deadly viruses to pass from animals to humans. The more forest that is destroyed, the greater the risk of a new pandemic.

But that’s not the only disease risk from industrial meat. Factory farms can also increase the spread of disease, both between animals and from animals to humans. The risk is higher for industrial meat farms because huge numbers of animals are crammed into small spaces, and the animals themselves have weaker immune systems. This means that viruses can develop more rapidly and have the potential to pass to humans.

It’s an inefficient way to eat

Companies sometimes argue that industrial meat is an efficient way to produce food, but this ignores its true costs. Over a quarter of the world’s entire land area is used to graze or grow food for farm animals – food that could have been eaten by people in the first place. Just 1kg of chicken meat takes 3.2kg of crops to produce.

If everyone ate a plant-based diet, we’d need 75% less farmland than we use today. That’s an area equivalent to the US, China, Europe and Australia combined. That’s because it takes less land to grow food directly for humans, than to grow crops to feed animals, which are then eaten by humans.

In countries like the UK, we need to be eating 70% less meat and dairy by 2030 to prevent climate breakdown. By eating mostly plant-based food, we could feed more people – with all the calories and nutrition needed for a healthy diet – without destroying forests.

 

But this isn’t just about people’s individual choices. Supermarkets, like Tesco, play a huge role in shaping customer demand through advertising, price cuts and special promotions. Tesco sells more meat and uses more soya for animal feed than any other supermarket in the UK. And despite committing to stop supporting forest destruction by 2020, they are still buying meat from suppliers linked to deforestation.

We can’t wait another 10 years for action. That’s why Greenpeace is calling on Tesco and other companies to start playing their part by halving the amount of meat they sell by 2025, and ultimately phasing out industrial meat entirely. They must replace that meat with more plant-based food options, and immediately stop buying from companies owned by forest-destroyers, JBS.

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Categories: Activist News

World Conservation Day: 6 conservation success stories from the battle to protect nature

Tue, 2020-07-28 13:35

The 28th of July is World Conservation Day. It’s a day to reflect on our efforts in protecting and preserving the planet’s wildlife and habitats. 

History shows that if we move fast and act with courage, humanity can protect and restore our most important places, and bring amazing creatures back from the edge of extinction. 

Although there’s still so much more to do, let’s take a moment to celebrate some conservation success stories, and let them inspire us to keep standing up for our beautiful home.

Red kites come back from the brink

The reintroduction of the red kite to Britain is one of the greatest conservation success stories of the 20th century. After decades of persecution from egg collectors and illegal poisoning, red kites were practically extinct in the UK by the late 1980s. However, in 1989, conservationists started re-introducing red kites from Sweden, and their numbers steadily grew.

Today, gliding red kites are a common sight over large parts of the countryside. According to the RSPB, they’ve been so successful it’s no longer possible to count them in an annual survey!

Red kites descend on a feeding station at the Gigrin Farm Red Kite Feeding Centre in Rhayader, Wales. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Protecting the Great Bear Rainforest

In 2009, the government of British Columbia announced a conservation plan for the Great Bear Rainforest – the most comprehensive of its kind in North America. This victory followed a ten-year campaign – one of the longest in Greenpeace history.

The Great Bear Rainforest stretches along the mainland coast of British Columbia to the Alaska border, and makes up a quarter of all the coastal temperate rainforest left in the world. © Oliver Salge / Greenpeace

The White Spirit Bear appears for just a few weeks each year in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada – the only place on earth they exist. The bear is actually a black bear which carries a recessive gene which gives it a pale gold colour. Mark Carwardine / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

Beavers return to Britain

More than 400 years after it was hunted to extinction in the UK, the beaver is back! Initially illegally released in Tayside, Scotland a few years ago, there are now over 400 beavers in 100 territories. Beavers are now a protected species in Scotland.

The UK’s beaver population is steadily increasing. Steve Raubenstine / Pixabay

Saving the Mauritius kestrel

This bird of prey was close to extinction in the mid 1970’s, with only five individuals left. Today over 400 birds fly in the forests of Mauritius, thanks to successful conservation efforts and breeding programmes. 

A Mauritius kestrel in its natural habitat John Mauremoootoo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Defusing the ‘carbon bomb’ under the Congo Basin rainforest

Scientists recently discovered a vast ‘carbon bomb’ in the swamps of the Congo Basin rainforest. If the carbon stored in these swamps was released (if the trees were cut down and the water drained away, for example) the climate impact would be equivalent to three years’ worth of total global fossil fuels.

Following the discovery of the peatlands in 2018, governments signed the Brazzaville Declaration to protect this rich habitat, and keep its giant carbon stores locked safely underground. 

Protected peatland forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

 

The protected swamplands are an important habitat for the red-tailed monkey. © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

Reviving the Blue Iguana

In 2001 there were fewer than 30 Blue Iguanas left in the wild. By 2018, there were more than 1000, thanks to a heroic recovery programme run by the National Trust in the Cayman Islands. The Blue Iguana can only be found in the dry forests of Grand Cayman, usually eating fruits and flowers, and sunning itself in open clearings.

A blue iguana in Grand Cayman Joshua Stoner / Pixabay

 

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Categories: Activist News