Greenpeace in no mood for champagne for its 50th anniversary

“There isn’t much to celebrate right now. We are in a climate emergency situation ”, insists Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International,“ deeply worried ”that the response of the governors is insufficient during the Cop26, which will take place from October 31 to November 12, in Glasgow.

The situation has worsened since that famous September 15, 1971, when a ship called Greenpeace, which left the Canadian port of Vancouver, attempted to stop an American nuclear test off the coast of Alaska.

I think in 50 years Greenpeace has achieved some truly miraculous things

In her premises in a modest building on the outskirts of Amsterdam filled with memorabilia, including colorful campaign posters, Jennifer Morgan says the idealism that presided over the founding of Greenpeace 50 years earlier is more needed than ever. . “Greenpeace started with the idea that people could change the world with an idea and a little hope … I think that in 50 years, Greenpeace has achieved really miraculous things”, insists the one who took the head of the group in 2016.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, says she is “deeply concerned”. (John Thys / AFP)

Stop commercial whaling, fight against toxic spills, protect Antarctica… The NGO’s fields of struggle are numerous.

The drama of the Rainbow Warrior still in the minds

The organization remains deeply marked by the drama of the Rainbow Warrior. In 1985, the French secret services had sunk the flagship ship of Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, moored in Auckland, New Zealand, without knowing that was on board the Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, killed in the explosion.

Greenpeace activists, “in shock at what governments are prepared to do”, “mark this date every year” since, recalls Jennifer Morgan.

Adept at media operations, the group still has powerful enemies and Greenpeace is today “very cautious”, its activists in countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and China being particularly exposed, in a world where people are regularly killed. environmental activists.

Made famous for its punchy actions against whalers and oil rigs, Greenpeace has since adopted other strategies, including legal action against governments and polluters. “You will see Greenpeace intensify its legal cases around the world,” warns Jennifer Morgan.

Always “radical”

For her, Greenpeace is not a tidy old lady, she is still “radical”, despite the emergence of a new generation of militant groups, such as Extinction Rebellion. And, unlike its maverick beginnings, Greenpeace is now cooperating more and more with other environmental groups, insists the official, citing the common front of NGOs to put pressure on world leaders on occasion. of Cop26, a “fundamental moment for the planet”. “I’m deeply concerned: what I’m seeing right now are governments acting almost like we’re back in the 80s,” she criticizes.

Greenpeace is one of the organizations that called for the summit to be postponed if representatives of developing countries were unable to attend because they could not get vaccinated in time. Objection rejected by the United Nations.

This Thursday, Greenpeace plans to celebrate its half-century in a discreet way, in its offices around the world, preferring to stay focused on the Cop26.

And, how does the group see its future? “I suppose the goal would be for Greenpeace to no longer exist”, if the environmental problems denounced by the NGO were finally resolved, jokes Jennifer Morgan.

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