Environmental Health

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Environmental Health

Environmental Health

Environmental Health

Pressure groups:


In September 1971 a small group of individuals - brave idealists who believed they could confront the odds - set sail to try to prevent a US nuclear test. The following year the first voyage to confront the whalers took place.

From these beginnings Greenpeace has grown to a global organisation. We now have over two and a half million supporters in 158 countries. From our North American roots we have spread to Europe, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Far East and most recently to China, India and South east Asia. Greenpeace India describes itself as an organisation for those who would be a voice, not a victim. When we talk about the threat posed by GM to agricultural development, or the need for clean energy for all the world's people, we do so not from the perspective of the North, but on behalf of our supporters everywhere.

Greenpeace takes pride in its achievements. The moratorium on commercial whaling, which has saved many species from extinction. The Antarctic Treaty, stopping mining in that last great wilderness on earth for at least fifty years. The ban on dumping radioactive waste and redundant oil installations at sea. And, earlier in 2001, the Stockholm treaty to ban the twelve most toxic Persistent Organic Pollutants - the culmination of a fifteen year Greenpeace campaign, and the agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest from logging.

Greenfreeze fridges and Juice energy

Over the last decade we have worked with manufacturers to produce and sell millions of Greenfreeze fridges worldwide; which do not damage the ozone layer and are climate-friendly. In August this year we launched Juice, a green electricity product marketed by Npower. Juice is linked to a proposed offshore wind farm at North Hoyle in Wales. By signing up, individuals demonstrate their support for offshore wind, so making it more likely that this wind farm, and others, will get planning permission.

Focus on Corporations

As the Greenfreeze fridges and Juice energy examples show, Greenpeace is focusing increasingly on corporations. The reason is obvious: as free market economics has come into vogue, as politicians have ceded ever more power and influence to the private sector, and as trade liberalisation has swept away traditional instruments of public policy; it is increasingly transnational corporations who wield the real power.

This is a familiar observation. What is less often noted is that this new-found freedom companies enjoy carries with it increased responsibilities, because the move to liberalisation and deregulation hasn't just happened. It hasn't been driven by politicians. It has been driven by corporations, spending millions of pounds on lobbying, relentlessly pushing the message that if only governments would get out of the way, the public interest will be safe in their hands.

Having helped create this neo-liberal world, companies cannot turn round and say - as they sometimes do - that social or environmental problems are nothing to do with them; that their role is simply to make money.

Business thinking is in some ways more developed and ...
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