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2011 Wot we did in our network

Posted by Burdie — 23 January 2012 at 5:52pm - Comments
Birmingham VW
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace
VW Birmingham

The year started with the continuation of the Go Beyond Oil campaign.  Easy to reach oil is fast running out and the dwindling supplies are forcing drilling companies to go further and deeper than ever before.  Activists were talking to the public about the campaign and asking them to sign postcards to local MP’s.  We managed to get a meeting with one local MP but the others received postcards in their parliamentary post boxes.  Every single MP in Nottinghamshire and some beyond received postcards from us, asking them to support energy reduction amendments to the forthcoming Energy Bill.  I really should have kept a tally of cards sent but it was several hundred by the end of the campaign

We then moved on to a new campaign about tuna fishing.  Much to my personal pleasure, Tesco was the target but as a result of the Hugh’s fish fight programme series, Tesco very quickly saw the light and agreed to only purchase tuna that had been line caught.  Shame for us as local activists, but a great campaign victory.  So we moved on to Princes as the largest tuna canning company around.  Activists visited supermarkets they normally didn’t shop at and tins of Princes tuna found themselves with sticky labels on.  This was associated with an action at the Princes factory in Liverpool with activists dressed up as sharks and such like which necessitated me making a hurried visit to a fancy dress shop in Nottingham and concocting a fanciful story about the need to hire a shark outfit!  It worked and Princes agreed to our demands so we turned our attention to other supermarkets.  Peter invented a fishing game to go with our campaign which we used at the Green Festival in May.  It didn’t rain but it was very windy but that didn’t stop us.  Last of the big 6 to fall was Morrison's but even they had to succumb eventually.  And then there was John West - who held out the longest and then there was none

As a group we then turned our attention to the fact that Greenpeace was 40 years old in September and we decided to hold a benefit gig to celebrate but also to raise money for the new Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior 3.  Those kind folks at the Maze allowed us to use their venue and the fantastic Wholesome Fish and Northern Quarter provided some excellent music and we raised over £500.

 Then we got news that we were going to campaign again on rainforest destruction, but the target was a secret.  Imagine our surprise when we were told it was Mattel, the people who make Barbie.  So we had a great time creating a Barbie treasure hunt where we hid Barbies and gave online clues to where they were.  As well as the Barbie hunt we also stickered Barbie dolls and the Disney ‘Princess’ range and Transformers and My Little Pony.  All these toys were shown to have pulp fibres from illegally logged rainforest timber in their packaging.  A Facebook campaign accompanied this with activists from all over the country asking Mattel, Disney and Hasbro to change their buying policy and not to buy pulp from Asia Pulp and Paper.  One funny story I can now tell is that Peter and I visited the Disney store in Nottingham to ‘measure it up’ and draw a plan of the store.  The idea was to get caught by the staff and when they asked us what we were doing to say we were from Greenpeace and had been asked to do this with the intention of Disney getting notice of this and getting concerned that we might visit their store in a more visual way.  Sadly the staff in the Nottingham branch were so accommodating that they asked us if they could help in any way and even allowed us to get a tape measure out and measure the main door!

Then the VW campaign started.  We started gently by asking local dealerships to write to VW HQ to ask them about their lobbying against carbon dioxide emission reduction targets in the EU and why they didn’t fit fuel efficiency engine management systems as standard.  What is so disappointing about VW is that they claim to be environmentally aware but companies that many of us would have thought to be a bit like green villains signed up to reduce their emissions.  Cath from our group took part in her first action, going to Brussels to the European Business Summit with activists from around Europe to challenge businesses to sign up to reduce their emissions.

 At the same time we were campaigning on the forthcoming Common Fisheries policy asking the public to sign and decorate letters asking him to support a strong and comprehensive change to the CFP where the environment and fish stocks were at the centre of the policy rather than political and corporate demands.  We had a great time at Brinsley Animal Centre on a sunny June day and a rotten time at the Gedling Show in September on a horrible windy and rainy day.

Then in July Richard took part in his first action as the campaign against VW moved up a gear.  Gone were the nice polite letters and visits to dealerships.  The Greenpeace stormtroopers visited Old Street, heart of the advertising industry in London and they also visited VW’s HQ in Milton Keynes.  We continued the stormtropper theme by visiting a VW dealership in Birmingham as part of a pan-European day of action where we visited over 40 dealerships across Europe with our stormtroopers.  This provided an ideal opportunity to highlight the issue on social network s.  Now we are communicating directly with the public about this issue, asking them to sing petition postcards to VW asking them to change their attitude to carbon emissions.

In September, we presented a  birthday cake to the Lord Mayor as a gesture of thanks to the people of Nottingham for their support over  the years.  The presentation was made as close to the date of the first sailing of the Phylis Cormack as we could make it.

Then finally to round off yet another busy year a group of us went down to London to visit the new Rainbow Warrior 3.  It was a very emotional visit for all concerned and re-invigorated our motivation to get active and do what we could to protect the environment.

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