Impact Report 2017

Our vision is a greener, more peaceful world.

Everything we do prioritises the natural systems that ensure the long-term health of our planet. This means defending our climate, oceans, forests, soils, atmosphere, and diverse plant and animal life.

What sets Greenpeace apart are our methods for bringing about positive change. We use peaceful, high-profile, real-world investigations and interventions to uncover problems, and to champion solutions. Our work is designed to transform government, industry and society.

By focusing on doing, rather than commentating, we inspire people to confront the governments and corporations driving environmental destruction, and empower them to bring about real, beneficial change. We’re not paid or swayed by any government or corporation. Individuals are our only source of financial support.

People are at the heart of everything we do, and our movement is made up of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. We’ve got courage, we’ve got facts, and we’ve got you. Together we show up, we stand up, and we get things done. And we’ll do it again tomorrow.


In 2017 our ships – the Rainbow Warrior, Arctic Sunrise and Esperanza – travelled a total of 72,898 nautical miles around the world, and welcomed 86,402 visitors on board during open boat days in ports of call. From exploring the recently discovered reef at the mouth of the Amazon river to protesting Arctic oil drilling in Norway, our three ships provide invaluable support to Greenpeace campaigns around the world.

Message from John Sauven

Executive Director Greenpeace UK

Looking back on the last 12 months, I’m struck by just how far we’ve come on environmental issues – progress that even in 2016 would have seemed inconceivable. Ocean plastic pollution is one example. What started as a trickle of campaign successes has turned into an avalanche. By the end of the year, announcements were coming thick and fast from companies keen to get behind plastic reduction, reuse and recycling. As Scotland moves ahead with its deposit return scheme, the UK Government needs to match their ambition.

There’s a similar story to tell when it comes to diesel. This time last year, the UK having a target for phasing out the internal combustion engine would have seemed impossible. But, in July, the Government announced a deadline of 2040. It’s cause for optimism, and one that shows our political lobbying is really taking root. But other countries are doing it much quicker – so, again, there’s room for more ambition.

Separately, there’s been great progress in offshore wind. Our coalition with offshore wind developers required us to build new, unusual alliances, and in doing so helped us get a clear message across to politicians and investors: investing in renewables really does pay off. The economy, the climate and of course ordinary people stand to benefit. Renewables really have become a more cost-effective, mainstream energy option for the UK.

Many of these campaign developments would not have been so successful if it wasn’t for our investigations work, which supports everything we do. This year, the launch of our new online platform, ‘Unearthed’, has helped build our credibility as an authoritative voice in the media. While many of the big battles we face involve our natural environment in farflung corners of the earth – oceans, rainforests, and the poles – we’re also facing major challenges closer to home. In 2017, our Unearthed investigations continued to hold the Government to account on the environment.

Critically, they’re also allowing us to reach more people in different ways. Together with our wider campaign work, investigations helped Greenpeace secure more supportive media coverage in 2017. And while that helps, it’s not the full story when it comes to winning campaigns. It’s only thanks to ordinary people deciding to do something from where they are – signing petitions, taking part in community events, donating and adding their voices to campaigns – that real change can take seed. Thank you for standing with us through another successful year.

Last year saw us make great progress in our campaign to stop plastic polluting our oceans. The tide is starting to turn. Will McCallum, oceans campaigner.
The Beluga II on its two month scientific expedition around Scotland to document ocean plastic pollution

Up to 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in our seas each year. It’s entering every level of the ocean food chain, and has even been found in the seafood that reaches our plates. In 2017, we worked hard to stop the plastic problem at its source.

We started by drawing attention to the plastic footprints of global soft drinks companies. Our research put consumer brands’ responsibility for their plastic packaging firmly on the media agenda, and kicked off intensive work to persuade the industry leader, Coca-Cola, to change. We installed a giant artwork outside their London HQ, featuring a beach scene polluted by plastic. The widespread press coverage drew public attention to the problem, and 32,000 of you contacted Coke Europe’s CEO about it in just one day.

By late 2017, we had Coca-Cola at the negotiating table. How did we get them there? A summer of campaigning followed that initial investigation and launch, and saw supporters send over 90,000 emails to Coke’s European CEO, asking the company to reduce their plastic footprint. As a result, Coke agreed to develop a new global strategy to address their plastic footprint, and to reduce ocean plastic pollution.

Thanks to your generosity, we were also able to take our ship, Beluga II, on a two-month scientific expedition to Scotland last summer. Our team of scientists, campaigners, journalists, photographers and videographers documented the impact plastic pollution is having on the country’s coasts and waterways. They collected evidence that supported our call for the introduction of a plastic bottle deposit return scheme in Scotland.

“Plastic pollution was on every beach we surveyed…From manufacturers to consumers, we all need to address this problem, and I’m glad to do my bit to be part of the solution.” John Paterson, volunteer with the Beluga II ship tour.

The ship tour ended with a petition hand-in to the Scottish Parliament. They listened: a few weeks later, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans. Meanwhile, our lobbying of English and Welsh politicians led to similar proposals being tabled – a fantastic result within such a short space of time, and a strong position to build from.

All of this meant our plastics campaign was headline news throughout 2017. And there’s little doubt that the constant press coverage put pressure on companies and politicians to act. Almost every week, we were approached by the media, retailers, high street chains and international corporations, all keen to use our standards as the benchmark for progress. Greenpeace has become the go-to organisation on ocean plastics – the best possible position from which to build this campaign.

Last year also saw a significant victory for sustainable tuna. In July, our negotiations with the world’s biggest tuna company, Thai Union, finally saw them announce major reforms, and commit to more sustainable, socially responsible seafood.

In the years leading up to this fantastic result, our campaign reached from the high seas to supermarkets, from industry conferences to company HQs. Almost 700,000 of you around the world called on Thai Union to change their practices, and our persistence paid off. We’ll meet them regularly to assess their progress, and to monitor how they are implementing these reforms.

Gannets on the Bass Rock in Scotland

What next?

In 2018, we’ll keep the pressure on companies like Coca-Cola to make sure they commit to ambitious plans on plastic reduction. And we’ll broaden our focus to retailers like supermarkets. We’ll also keep pushing for deposit return schemes across the UK, and keep a close eye on Scotland to make sure theirs is robust. We’ll also continue work on a new campaign for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which we launched in September 2017 and which will be a major focus in 2018.

It’s a constant challenge to make sure companies stick to their commitments on rainforest protection - and that’s what we focused on progressing in 2017. Daniela Montalto, forests campaigner.
Baby orangutans at the BOS Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Centre in Indonesia

2017 began with an investigation into HSBC, a bank that claims sustainability underpins its strategic priorities. When our research found that they were funding several companies involved in deforestation in Indonesia, we took action.

Within days of releasing our report, thousands of Greenpeace supporters and HSBC customers complained in local branches and direct to head office. More than 200,000 of you signed a petition, and HSBC’s Chief Executive, Stuart Gulliver, was even questioned about it during a live panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Just six weeks later, HSBC agreed a new ‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ policy – the first for any major bank – setting a precedent which several other banks have since followed. Five months on, HSBC began investigating a palm oil company over deforestation allegations – evidence that they’re taking their new policy seriously.

There’s more good news. In the summer, years of campaigning paid off when IOI, one of the world’s biggest palm oil traders at the time, finally agreed to a strong policy against deforestation. This breakthrough was only possible because of the enormous pressure supporters like you helped to pile on IOI, including persuading multinationals like Nestlé and Unilever to stop buying their palm oil, and banks like HSBC to stop financing them. We continue to monitor the whole industry closely. Towards the end of 2017, we published new analysis proving that, despite their commitments, the palm oil industry is still a leading cause of deforestation in Indonesia. Many of the largest traders still can’t guarantee their supply chains are deforestation free.

With their own deadline of zero-deforestation from palm oil by 2020 fast approaching, companies need to step up. Until they do, Indonesia’s rainforests – and the climate – remain under threat. Thanks to your support, it’s a challenge we’ll be taking on between now and 2020.

Image © Bjorn Vaugn/BOSF

“Palm oil supply chains are perhaps the clearest example of where investors have seen the environmental and social impacts translate into financial risks… Investors have seen share prices drop as producers fail to protect forests.” Allan Pearce, Trillium Asset Management.

What next?

Consumer companies like Unilever and Nestlé were among the first to make no-deforestation commitments, and they have the purchasing power to enforce them. In 2018, we’ll be calling for brands like these to take decisive action, and harnessing consumer pressure to push deforestation out of the palm oil supply chain for good.

The climate will remain under threat until we end our reliance on fossil fuels. In 2017 we tackled the world’s addiction to oil from every angle. Areeba Hamid, oil campaigner.
Image of the Amazon Reef taken from a submarine launched from the Esperanza

The year started with our ship the Esperanza undertaking a pioneering research mission to a coral reef close to the mouth of the Amazon river. The reef is at least 9,500 km² and has barely been explored, but it’s threatened by BP and Total’s plans to drill for oil nearby. We captured the first images ever taken of the reef, and used them to support the scientific case for its protection. And our supporters were with us: over a million people signed our petition calling for BP and Total to cancel their plans.

2017 was also the year we took the Norwegian Government to court. They had decided to grant new licences to drill for oil in the Arctic, despite their constitutional commitment to protect the environment for future generations. The court case set a landmark precedent that shows how new oil frontiers can be legally challenged. As part of it, more than 500,000 people submitted their names as evidence of the global opposition to Arctic oil drilling. We didn’t win the case – the Court decided not to cancel the licences – but the judgement did recognise the government’s constitutional duty to protect the environment. This recognition of rights and duties should have a significant impact on future climate lawsuits around the world. In the meantime, we plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Closer to home, we focused on diesel, putting pressure on the UK Government and car industry to speed up the switch to hybrid and electric vehicles. Our tactics included teaming up with headteachers to ask the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to tackle urban air pollution – and inspiring 40,000 supporters to ask the Chancellor to end incentives for diesel. We supported doctors to highlight health problems caused by diesel fumes. And we conducted several investigations into air pollution that got national media coverage. This helped push the issue up the political agenda, and supported Sadiq Khan’s initiative to introduce measures to phase out the most polluting vehicles from London.

Similar changes are taking place across the world, and diesel sales are decreasing. Thanks to your ongoing support, the transition away from fossil fuels is underway.

“I want to thank Greenpeace for running a fantastic campaign… You’ve spoken, I’ve listened, we’re acting.” Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, talking about our air pollution work at City Hall, 24 January 2017.

What next?

Companies like Volvo and Fiat Chrysler are beginning to ditch making diesel cars diesel cars, but some manufacturers aren’t moving, including the worst offender for emissions test cheating: Volkswagen. They still believe that diesel has a great future. In 2018 we’ll do everything we can to change that, as well as continue to fight against new oil frontiers opening up around the world.

As the UK government looked to develop its new industrial strategy in 2017, they faced a choice that would last down the decades. All our work this year focused on shifting them away from polluting fracked gas and nuclear, and towards wind and other clean renewables. Hannah Martin, energy campaigner.
Emma Thompson at the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm welcoming the news that new offshore wind contracts hit a record low price

In 2017, we hit a real watershed moment for offshore wind when new contracts became the cheapest form of large-scale low-carbon power in the UK! We took the opportunity to launch a campaign to raise political awareness of offshore wind, and encourage ministers and key decision-makers to feel proud of the industry’s successes to date.

How did we do it? First, we built a coalition of major offshore wind providers and developed a united marketing campaign. Actors Emma Thompson and Peter Capaldi stepped in to help us communicate that offshore wind is a great deal for the UK. We talked to hundreds of MPs in a high-level lobbying push, and even briefed Theresa May directly at the Conservative party conference.

Our message got through: in October, the UK Government renewed its commitment to substantial investment for the industry. This was clear evidence that working in a coalition, persistent and targeted lobbying, creative tactics and media engagement can all help shape a cleaner, more renewable energy mix.

During 2017 we also supported dozens of volunteers to slow down preparatory work at England’s first planned fracking sites. In May, ten activists peacefully blockaded a site at Preston New Road until they were arrested and charged. The trial in November attracted huge public support, and we were delighted when the judge returned a “not guilty” verdict – a big win for those peacefully opposing fracking across the country.

In October, the Scottish Government turned what was a moratorium on fracking into a permanent ban, because of “overwhelming public opposition”. Our Scotland-based supporters were instrumental in securing this. They provided five per cent of the total responses to the public consultation that led to this decision. The Westminster Government’s position on fracking has left it isolated, something we’ll capitalise on further in 2018.

“I like to think that on the day fracking is finally banned in this country, it will be the accumulation of many small actions like ours – and our case – that brought it to an end.” Hamish, mechanic and acquitted fracking activist.

What next?

We’ll bolster our argument for investment in renewables by showing weaknesses in plans for a suite of new nuclear power stations, as well as persisting with the fight against fracking. As coal and old nuclear power stations shut down, new energy solutions are needed to fill the gap. We need to make sure they are the right ones.

2017 was our strongest year yet for investigations, with more front pages, top-trending stories and impactful journalism than ever before. Damian Kahya, Head of Investigations.
“For the first time I’m beginning to think there is actually a groundswell, there is a change in the public view… Thirty years ago people concerned with atmospheric pollution were voices crying in the wilderness. We aren’t voices crying in the wilderness now.” Sir David Attenborough in his interview with Unearthed, 25 September 2017.

Thanks to your continued investment, in September 2017 we relaunched our investigations unit as ‘Unearthed’ – a new name, look and website for our investigative journalism platform. Our new name reflects our broader coverage of environmental issues – from China’s control of the West African fishing industry to the human impact of the global air pollution crisis. And our new home has helped us to tell stories in a more inventive, accessible and impactful way. So far, we have featured high-profile interviews with Sir David Attenborough, Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson and UN environment chief Erik Solheim, amongst others.

Throughout 2017, our investigations drew on unreported data to support Greenpeace’s wider campaign goals. In April, we revealed how thousands of nurseries and schools are exposed to illegal air pollution levels, catapulting the story to the top of the media and political agenda. Later, we revealed how car companies’ own emissions tests are still recording much lower levels than real world independent tests of cars on congested roads. This story was well received across the political spectrum, including by key members of the Government – and has certainly contributed to the pressure on politicians to take action on air pollution.

Our investigations team has also been working hard to hold the Government to account on environmental issues in the context of Brexit. In one series of reports, we uncovered flaws in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ahead of a re-think of the policy. This included an exposé of Rich List billionaires who are scooping up millions of pounds in farm subsidy payments. The story was covered across national news media, from the Sun to the Times. Our follow-up made it into Private Eye, and was shared by leading journalists from the Financial Times and the Guardian. Both stories contributed to Environment Secretary, Michael Gove’s subsequent speech in favour of reforming the CAP after Brexit, so that payments are linked to public benefit.

What next?

In 2018 we’ll continue to expand our investigations coverage, focusing on more hard-hitting and impactful global stories, and on holding politicians to account on environmental protection in Brexit and trade negotiations.


After a campaign spanning more than 20 years, the Russian government has agreed to create one of the largest protected areas in Europe: the 122,000-hectare Ladoga Skerries National Park. Greenpeace Russia has worked alongside local volunteers, NGOs and community groups to stave off threats including wildfires, illegal logging and construction plans by state-owned oil company Rosneft. The new national park will be a safe haven for a population of rare freshwater seals.


For three years, Greenpeace has collaborated with the Indigenous Inuit community of Clyde River in Canada to stop a seismic blasting project. This way of exploring for oil beneath the sea floor had been approved without any meaningful consultation with local people. But in July the country’s Supreme Court cancelled the seismic blasting permits – a decision with far-reaching significance for Indigenous rights, and other resource extraction projects including oil exploration, tar sands and pipelines.


In January 2017, following a prolonged campaign by Greenpeace Germany and other partners, the global supermarket chain LIDL became the first retailer to agree to our call for transparency about textile supply chains. The supermarket chain published a full list of its 650 textile and shoe suppliers and pledged to detox its clothing and footwear production processes, promising an end to the discharge of hazardous chemicals by no later than 2020.


An investigation by Greenpeace Africa exposed the fact that the DRC’s Environment Minister had breached a moratorium on logging licences and handed them out illegally. During the subsequent campaign, our team came up against direct threats of violence from many implicated parties. But persistence paid off – in February 2017 the government of the DRC agreed to cancel the licences. Since the discovery of massive peatlands in the Central Congo Basin, it is more critical than ever to protect this region.


October 2017 saw a major victory for freedom of speech. The US Federal Court dismissed all claims in a controversial case that the logging company, Resolute Forest Products, had filed against Greenpeace to silence our campaign for the protection of Canada’s ancient boreal forests. But scientific evidence shows that Resolute’s logging activities are placing the forest under threat. The court’s decision sends a clear message that attacking people’s right to peacefully speak out in defence of the environment is unacceptable.


Years of political lobbying paid off in December 2017 when an international agreement was made to protect the central Arctic Ocean. Countries including the US, Canada, Russia, Japan, China and the European Union signed a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in 2.8 million square kilometres, an area roughly the same size as the Mediterranean Sea. This will relieve pressure on a region where industrial fishing companies were taking advantage of melting sea ice.

Image © Joachim S. Mueller/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic added to products like toothpaste and body scrubs. They’re so small that they escape down the plug hole, into watercourses and out to sea. Thanks to Greenpeace East Asia and their local partners, the world’s largest health and beauty retail group, A S Watson – who own Superdrug – promised to stop selling products containing microplastics by the end of 2019.


There are fewer than 500 green peafowl left in the world. But, thanks to a Greenpeace East Asia investigation and campaign, the endangered birds’ future is looking brighter. During summer 2017, our satellite data and field research showed illegal mining and roads had cut through the green peafowls’ core habitat, an area that’s also threatened by the construction of a dam nearby. Faced with this evidence, Yunnan’s Environmental Protection Agency has now promised to do what it can to protect this rare bird.

Image © Zhinong Xi/WildChina

We’re not paid or swayed by anyone but you. Karen Rothwell, Director of Fundraising.
Sampling seawater for microplastics off the coast of Scotland.

Our campaigns don’t happen overnight. Slowly but surely, with a mix of investigations, lobbying, fact-finding, petitions, pressure – and some creative ways to get our message heard – we get there. We don’t give up and we don’t give in. That’s thanks to you. Our campaigns cost money, and all our money comes from you, our supporters. We don’t take money from governments or corporations. It means we stay independent, stay focused and stay the course until we get things done. And it means we’re more aware than ever that we need to spend our money wisely. Thanks for all your help.


These are the combined accounts of Greenpeace UK Ltd and Greenpeace Environmental Trust, which funds the promotion of sustainable development, scientific research, investigations and educational projects that further our understanding of the effects of human activity on the natural environment. If you would like to enquire about making a charitable gift to Greenpeace through a Foundation or Trust, please contact Louise Krzan on 020 7865 8175.


We are grateful to each and every supporter who made our work possible this year. Thank you for keeping us in action – there is still so much more work to do! We would especially like to acknowledge the following for their generous contributions towards our work in 2017:

Adlard Family Charitable Foundation

Alerce Trust

Julia Barfield

Elisabeth Barnes

Birthday House Trust

Rob Button

Richard Coates

Julia Davies

Lizzie Douglas

Tony Duburcq and The Green Trust

Michael & Emily Eavis

The John Ellerman Foundation

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Emily Feldberg and Elizabeth Atkinson

Roger de Freitas

Brian Gaze

Henocq Law Trust

Susie Hewson-Lowe

Martin & Åsa Hintze

Gideon Israel

The Laura Kinsella Foundation

Matthew & Audrey Lawfield

Robin Mischeff

Joseph Mishan

The Mitchell Trust

The Frederick Mulder Foundation

Greg and Sam Nasmyth

The Orp Foundation

Anthony Rae

The Raphael Trust

The Ridgeback Trust

Peter Rigg

Roger Ross & all at Lots Road

Rachel Rowlands

William Scragg

The SEM Charitable Trust

Peter Smith

Paul Strasburger

Robert Taberner

The Tinsley Foundation

The Underwood Trust

The Waterloo Foundation

Gifts in Wills

Every year we are honoured to receive gifts from those supporters who kindly undertook the generous and compassionate
act of including Greenpeace in their Will. For 2017 we would like to pay particular tribute to the following:

Rosemary Nelia Arnot

Sylvia Badcock

Jean Badham

Alan Balmforth

June Bean

Margaret Robertson Blair

Stanley Boulter

Georgina Pearl Bradford

Michael David Christopher Bratcher

Andrew Arthur Brodie

Stanley Brookman

Mavis Bunce

Pamela Helen Butts

Sylvia Mary Coles

Kathleen Ann Comer

Ursula Blanche Dawson

Ronald Devereux

Ann Margaret Dixon

Violet Emmins

Sarah Francesca Louise Eynstone

John Feeley

Sally Fletcher

Ann Good

Lewis Gorjanc

Bernard L Gosschalk

John Michael William Gould

Anthea Holman Gray

Gwendolyn Anne Hitchcock

Gerald John Hopper

Gloria Pearl Lazenby

Ashwin Gordon Makan

Theresa McCann

Margaret Helen McIntosh

Edward Ronald Morris

Jane Helen Osmond

John Anthony Platt

Nina Joy Roden

Gordon Ruddock

June Elizabeth Samuels

Robert Jack Selway

Audrey Cicely Sharples

Ina Strachan

N M Sutherland

Julia Margaret Swift

Shirley Marion Taylor

Gerald Taylor

Susan Anita Thomson

Margaret Joan Tottle

Asta Ruth Treliving

Annette La Touche Turner-Jones

Beatrice Ward

Susan Jennifer Wingate

Plus 65 others…

All photos – © Greenpeace unless stated otherwise


Image © Bjorn Vaugn/BOSF)

Greenpeace UK Limited is our campaigning organisation, and as such is unable to be a charity. Greenpeace Environmental Trust is a registered charity, number 284934. Our scientific research laboratories, managed by Greenpeace International, are based at Exeter University. There are various Greenpeace reports referenced in this publication. If you would like to receive a copy by post or email please contact Andrew Sturley on 020 7865 8116 or email

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