Between the pandemic and the post-election chaos, both of which are still going strong, maybe the single most important issue in our lifetime, and the lifetimes of all future generations, has been largely ignored. Yes, I’m talking about climate change, human’s destruction of the environment to satisfy their craving for more toys and conveniences. There are, however, a few good things that have happened this year in respect to the environment, and an email I received today from Greenpeace highlights the most significant of them. I thought it worth sharing, to show that despite Donald Trump and his love affair with the fossil fuel industry, others have been working to protect and repair the planet we call home.
From the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to continuing the long fight for racial equality in the U.S. to the most important presidential race in memory, it’s been quite a year for the history books. In the face of all this hardship, our planet continues to suffer and the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies and big polluters everywhere haven’t missed a beat.
While there were many difficult setbacks, from the melting Arctic to the Amazon and West Coast engulfed in flames, the fact is we did make great strides in 2020 to help heal our planet and our future. Here’s a brief recap of how your support for Greenpeace made a difference this past year:
- A court defeat for Trump is a win for the Arctic. Just weeks ago, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration violated environmental requirements when it approved an oil drilling project in the Arctic Ocean. This ruling is a vindication of your hard-fought activism to protect the Arctic and roll back the expansion of the oil industry. Not only did we win this lawsuit, courts also blocked offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean, cementing your people-power to Save the Arctic!
- Greenpeace counters the plastic industry’s attempts to exploit the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, the EPA decided it was the perfect time to roll back restrictions on pollution controls, and the plastics industry jumped in to exploit the pandemic by scaring people about the safety risk of reusable bags in transmitting disease. When trillions in taxpayer dollars became available, the fossil fuel industry scrambled to try to get a piece of the pie.
We’ve been fighting back against the plastic industry for decades, and Greenpeacers like you were ready to take on this new challenge. We investigated the polluters and the politicians who enable them, exposed the corporate and political elites who hope their profiteering goes unnoticed, and we mobilized to stop them. And we had to do it online and on the phones — not in person. You responded, making thousands of phone calls and sending hundreds of thousands of messages to Congress.
- One year of Fire Drill Fridays are in the books. Championed by our friend and fellow activist Jane Fonda, these weekly rallies included different speakers — celebrities, youth, Indigenous leaders, representatives from impacted and underrepresented communities, as well as movement and thought leaders — all demanding our leaders end fossil fuel expansion, pass a Green New Deal, and implement a plan for a responsible just transition to renewable energy as rapidly as possible. Hundreds of activists joined Jane in the courageous act of civil disobedience — even when our rallies had to go digital.
- On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we committed to a plastic-free future. Plastic pollution is destroying our planet. As the fossil fuel industry doubles down on plastic as the new frontier for petrochemical production, we must do everything in our power to shape a new future that isn’t crafted by these powerful multi-billion dollar industries. That is why, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this past April, Greenpeace mobilized supporters to push for passage of the Break Free from Plastic Protection Act in Congress.
- Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump to be elected the 46th President of the United States. With Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, we can start the hard work of making up for lost time, addressing the climate crisis, and protecting the planet. Vital protections for the environment and democracy are now within reach. The Biden administration has the power to enact the changes needed in our political system to make bold climate action a reality. Greenpeace and our movement pushed Biden to adopt bolder climate positions in his campaign, are winning pro-environment cabinet nominees, and we will continue to demand the Biden administration fight back against the status quo and work with us to fight for a resilient, fossil-free future where all people have what they need to thrive.
As you can see, it’s been a busy year for Greenpeace, with much to look forward to in the New Year.
Executive Director, Greenpeace