‘Working for Greenpeace, you get to be a part of some really exciting experiences’

Tom works in London for Greenpeace International on a global campaign to protect the world’s oceans. He talks about starting out in Australia with a quick win against BP for the oceans campaign, and how it took some time to find out what he wanted to do in the world.

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I’m a senior campaign strategist on the Greenpeace International oceans team, running an international campaign that’s led from UK office. The campaign focuses on whales and whaling, the Arctic and Antarctic poles, and creating ocean sanctuaries.

I’m also part of a group within Greenpeace looking at decolonising environmentalism to make a more diverse, inclusive and powerful environmental movement. We are conscientiously and humbly learning from groups in other organisations and grassroots movements who have in- depth and lengthy experience in the area.

Working for Greenpeace, you get to contribute to something that is imperative for the future of the world and you get to be a part of some really exciting experiences.

When I started in this role I was based in Australia. The first campaign I worked on was to stop BP from exploring for oil in the Great Australian Bight – that’s the bit at the bottom of Australia where it actually looks like someone has taken a bite out of it. It’s a beautiful and astonishingly biodiverse part of Australia, as well as being a whale sanctuary, so oil exploration in the region could have been devastating.

We made a few different plans, such as launching a legal challenge to their drilling application, and directly challenged their operations by physically obstructing their oil rig. We worked closely with a broad group of organisations that had been working on the issue for a while before Greenpeace and that had delivered some great campaigns – particularly with some of the traditional owners of the land in coastal South Australia.

Barely two weeks after launching the campaign, BP announced they were no longer going to explore for oil there. This really was such an incredible feat and one that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the other groups who were – and still are – working to protect the Bight from other threats.

There are many things that I love about Greenpeace and which made me keen to work here. One crucial aspect for me is that it’s an organisation grounded in science, research and investigations which expose wrongdoing. Also, Greenpeace doesn’t take money from governments or companies, unlike politicians and many other organisations, so it can actually challenge those that already hold power. In our current society, it’s a rare position to be in and I find the potential for change really exciting.

I grew up in a small village in Norfolk quite unaware of the world of politics and the environment. It took years to figure out what I ‘should’ be doing in the world. I tried my hand at everything from web design to furniture delivery to academia to IT project management, but none of them felt right. Then one day I went to the park to play frisbee with some friends of friends, and found many of them were activists and campaigners.

I stayed in touch and soon discovered a whole world of enthusiastic political change-makers working to improve the world. I never looked back. Over the following years I worked on a number of campaigns in the UK and all over the world. The fact that a game of ultimate frisbee led me to where I am today made me realise that you never really know what will happen in life.

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