Greenpeace celebrates 50 years of fearless defence of the planet

SYDNEY, Sept 15 2021 - The iconic global environmental organisation Greenpeace today celebrates its fiftieth year of fighting for a greener, fairer and more peaceful world.

From the founding voyage in 1971 of a group of activists in a rickety boat to stop nuclear testing in Alaska, to the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, sending boats to block Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters, and the gaoling of the ‘Arctic 30’ in Russia following a peaceful protest against oil giant Gazprom, Greenpeace is synonymous with fearless, courageous defence of the environment against all odds.

“I’ve loved Greenpeace since I was a kid, admiring the courage, creativity and determination of people from all over the world, working together to stop nuclear testing, and to take on the biggest polluters and environmental destroyers on the planet,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Chief Executive, David Ritter said.

“From the preservation of Antarctica for nature and science, to the end of nuclear testing, the banning of drift-net fishing and the phasing out of ozone-destroying CFCs, there’s no denying the massive impact of Greenpeace.

“Today, we’ve got more than a million people as part of the Greenpeace network in Australia Pacific alone. Along with our proud independence – we don’t accept funds from any government or business anywhere in the world – this is what gives us the strength to take on the greatest threats to our climate and environment.”

Globally, Greenpeace is active in 28 countries with 3.3 million supporters. Greenpeace Australia Pacific is one of the world’s longest running Greenpeace offices, emerging from a successful campaign in 1977 to close Australia’s last whaling stations in Albany, Western Australia.

The organisation has more than 1.2 million Australian supporters, leading the fight against climate change and supporting our Pacific neighbours on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 


Selected Greenpeace Australia Pacific Highlights


1977 – Successfully campaigned to close the last Australia whaling station in Albany.

1985 – Evacuated 200 adults and children aboard the Rainbow Warrior from Rongelap Island, which was suffering from nuclear fallout from 1954 US nuclear tests

1987 – Established the World Park Base in the Antarctic in order to allow Greenpeace to have a place in the Antarctic Treaty Nations, which it used to push for adoption of an Environmental Protocol including a 50 year minimum prohibition on mineral exploitation. 

1994 – Greenpeace Australia brings the world’s first climate change court case.

2001 – Greenpeace captures the first images of Japanese whalers hunting in the Antarctic.

2004 – Greenpeace successfully campaigns to end shale oil mining in Queensland.

2012 – Supertrawlers are banned from Australian waters.

2017 – Australia becomes only the second country after the UK to have eliminated less sustainable tuna fishing from the retail market.  

2020 – Norwegian oil giant Equinor abandons plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.  

2021 Greenpeace Australia Pacific defeats a Federal Court challenge by Australia’s biggest climate polluter, electricity giant AGL and helps secure the right to freedom of expression.



IMAGE LIBRARY: A collection of the most iconic Greenpeace photographs over five decades

MEDIA BRIEFING – background and stories from Greenpeace’s 50 year history


Martin Zavan, 0424 295 422, [email protected]