Resolute Forest Products — a major North American logger— wants to sue Greenpeace out of existence. The reason? Greenpeace, as a part of a “criminal enterprise”, is damaging company’s reputation in order to raise more donations from the public.

Resolute vs Greenpeace is an ongoing battle. Back in May 2013 Greenpeace published a report Resolute’s False Promises: The (Un)sustainability Report 2013 revealing the logger’s unsustainable practices. According to Greenpeace official website,“Resolute Forest Products is responsible for the destruction of vast areas of Canada’s magnificent Boreal forest, damaging critical woodland caribou habitat and logging without the consent of impacted First Nations.” Following the publication the logging company filed a $7 million lawsuit in Canada against Greenpeace Canada and a $300 million dollar (CAD) lawsuit in the United States (against GPUS and GPI).

Resolute's false promises: the [un]sustainability report 2013

Who is Resolute and what is their problem?

Let’s take a quick look at what Greenpeace is dealing with.

  • Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec
  • Incorporated: Delaware, USA
  • CEO: Richard Garneau (since January 1, 2011)
  • CEO Salary: $3,958,019 (2014)
  • No. of mills and locations: 30 in Canada, 8 in the United States and 1 in South Korea
  • Products include: (direct to market) pulp, newsprint, lumber, paper (end products) books, magazines, tissue papers, catalogues and flyers
  • Countries sold in: 80 including United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, India, Korea
  • 2014 sales: $4.5 billion
  • 2015 sales: $3.6 billion

Basically, what Resolute does is convert forest into pulp that is used to produce paper. More companies including Resolute’s customers are demanding “that sustainable practices be followed by extractive industries such as logging.” The lumber giant blames its decline in customers on the Greenpeace campaign, accusing the environmentalists of deliberately damaging company’s reputation.”

 

SLAPP

Corporations are suing businesses and nonprofits all the time, so what’s so special about Resolute vs Greenpeace case? The thing is, this is more that just a lawsuit — it is a SLAPP lawsuit.

SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech. According to science blog, “It is generally believed by observers that Resolute intends to use this legal action to end Greenpeace. Other environmental organizations are concerned that this type of suit may end their efforts as well.”

SLAPP cases are:

  • time-consuming
  • not just costly but for amount of money impossible to pay, unless you are a multi-billion dollar corporation
  • used by corporations not to win, but to make the plaintiff abandon criticism and finally give in

According to Greenpeace official website …“if a precedent is set that RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) laws can be used in this way, the door will be open for more scenarios like this. It happens quietly at first, and then when we see how powerful the corporations have become, it’s too late.”

“These SLAPP lawsuits from Resolute are absolutely part of a larger problem,” says Joanna Kerr, executive director of Greenpeace Canada. “There has been a rise of SLAPP suits around the world, designed to intimidate through expensive and time-consuming litigation that has the effect of silencing free speech.”

It is worth mentioning that Greenpeace only relies on the support of its members and foundation grants. Unfortunately, the amount of monetary damages sought by Resolute is way beyond what the nonprofit organization is able to pay. If the environmentalists lose the case, that very well may be the end of Greenpeace.

Just one more interesting detail here: Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman — the law firm that represents Resolute— also happens to represent Donald Trump. The law firm threatened a lawsuit against New York Times for publishing three pages of Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

 

Your right to speak out

#OurVoicesAreVital activists

Photo by Jordan Makow

Corporate lawsuits are cracking down on free speech. For some, this is absolutely unacceptable. Activists from all over the world are displaying the sign “#OurVoicesAreVital“ to show solidarity with Greenpeace Canada, Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace International.

#OurVoicesAreVital is more then just a movement. It is also an immensely empowering film created in collaboration with Greenpeace and a number of artists, activists and journalists. The script, created by Steve Street at Brooklyn-based creative agency Big Spaceship, is focused on the power of combined actions.

#OurVoicesAreVital film

 

Protect your freeze peach. Get engaged

protect freeze peach

 

Speech is power. It is the greatest force for change in the world, the tool each one of us has to build the future that we deserve.
Greenpeace

 

You can’t intimidate or sue the facts away, they will remain.
Stand.earth

#OurVoicesAreVital movement stands for democracy. Is stands for free speech and protection of the planet. Intimidation will not work, eroding free speech will not work either. If you think that deforestation in Canada only affects those who live in North America, think twice. Air, just like water, is a shared resource and this is a shared planet.

Still not convinced this is a big deal? Take a look at what we have already done to the environment. Deforestation in Canada impacts everyone, and it will only get worse if companies like Resolute keep shutting down public participation. That sucks if you, like me, still have plans for this planet.

If you want to engage, consider taking action by signing the letter to Richard Garneau, the CEO of Resolute. You can also Ask Book Publishers to Stand Up For Free Speech and Forests. And remember: every voice counts.

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