All aboard the Arctic Sunrise in Brazil

Posted by jamie — 20 February 2009 at 12:42pm - Comments

One of the great things about working for an international organisation is that my inbox is constantly filling with emails from around the globe detailing what other Greenpeace offices are working on. A thread I've been following particularly closely is the stream of messages coming from the Arctic Sunrise which is currently back in Brazil on a two-and-a-half month tour of the country.

The purpose of the tour - which goes under the name of 'Save The Planet Now... Or Now!' - is to highlight the important role Brazil (as the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet) can play in fighting it in the lead-up to the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

I've already mentioned some of the work that's been done, including the launch of our work on the links between cattle ranching and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. This was done during the World Social Forum held last month in Belém, and Brazilian environment secretary Carlos Minc visited the Sunrise to discuss the issue of deforestation with the campaign team.

During their stay in Belém, the crew also took the opportunity to hold a couple of open boat days to show members of the public around the ship. If you visited the Rainbow Warrior while she was in the UK last year, you'll know how popular these open boat days are and over six days more than 7,000 people queued to see the Sunrise. (Get a taste of what they saw in the video above.)

Brazilian environment secretary Carolos Minc and Greenpeace campaigner Paolo Adario

Paolo Adario (right) talks with Carlos Minc on board the Arctic Sunrise © Greenpeace/Baleia

It's been three years since the Arctic Sunrise was last in Brazil when she visited the port of Santarém several hundred miles upriver as part of our Amazon soya campaign. On that occasion activists protesting about Cargill's illegal port facility were met with violence and intimidation from soya farmers; this time, the reception was quite different and I think Paolo, the head of our forest team in Brazil, summed it up nicely in an email he sent from Belém:

"I never could imagine that we would be able to walk around without being attacked, and have an open-ship full of enthusiastic local visitors who frequently end the visit by really applauding Greenpeace and our volunteers. We are really being the success of this Forum. And having the ship here is making a big difference."

And that's the beauty of having our own modest but essential fleet of ships. As well as being mobile campaign units, enabling us to reach far-flung parts of the globe, they also become a focal point wherever they go - for Greenpeace supporters, for the local (and often international) media, and for people who want to discuss policy and politics, such as Carlos Minc in Brazil.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Arctic Sunrise will be carrying on their work in Brazil until the end of March and if you're able to read Portuguese, you can follow their adventures on the ship's blog.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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