Rainforest Action Network
|Rainforest Action Network|
|Motto||Environmentalism with teeth.|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California|
|Executive Director||Lindsey Allen|
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is an environmental organization based in San Francisco, California, USA. The organization was founded by Randy "Hurricane" Hayes and Mike Roselle in 1985, and first gained national prominence with a grassroots organizing campaign that in 1987 succeeded in convincing Burger King to cancel $35 million worth of destructive Central American rainforest beef contracts. Protecting forests and challenging corporate power has remained a key focus of RAN’s campaigns since, and has led RAN into campaigns that have led to transformative policy changes across home building, wood purchasing and supplying, automobile, fashion, paper and banking industries.
RAN campaigns for forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through grassroots organizing, consumer education and non-violent direct action.
Activities and structure
RAN helped pioneer market campaigns against large multinational corporations in the 1990s, using grassroots activism and savvy media work to advocate for changes in environmental policies. Since then, RAN has had numerous successes in its campaigns against logging companies, banks, and vehicle manufacturers.
RAN drives change through grassroots organizing, media stunts, the use of non-violent civil disobedience, and inside-the-boardroom negotiations to confront and positively influence industry-leading corporations to publicly adopt environmental policies that address issues ranging from deforestation to global warming. Their corporate campaigning strategies have prompted a number of academic case studies reflecting on the relationship between activists and businesses.
RAN works in close alliance with an increasingly well coordinated movement of NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Along with Global Exchange and the Ruckus Society, RAN played a central role in organizing the 1999 mass actions against the WTO (World Trade Organization) summit in Seattle. Although the organization once had RAGS (Rainforest Action Groups) around the country, today its operations are centralized in San Francisco.
RAN's executive director, Rebecca Tarbotton, drowned on December 26, 2012, at age 39, while swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Lindsey Allen was subsequently named executive director on August 21, 2013.
The organization's board of directors includes André Carothers; Anna Hawken McKay; Anna Lappé of the Small Planet Institute; James Gollin, board president and a founding member of the Social Venture Network; and Jodie Evans, a founder of Code Pink Women for Peace. Honorary members of RAN's board include Ali MacGraw, Bob Weir, Bonnie Raitt, Chris Noth, John Densmore and Woody Harrelson.
Tropical Forests Program
RAN’s Tropical Forests Program focuses on stopping rainforest deforestation and degradation and the oppression of forest peoples in Indonesia. As a result of deforestation and the destruction of peatland for the agribusiness and pulp and paper industries, Indonesia is now the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
Rainforest Agribusiness: Palm Oil
RAN's Rainforest Agribusiness campaign, The Problem With Palm Oil, centers around the social and environmental impact of palm oil plantations in the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil plantations in these areas result in the clearcutting of tropical hardwoods, the killing of local wildlife, the displacement of local communities and a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign’s main target has been Cargill, a privately owned agribusiness company and the largest supplier of palm oil to the United States. While still applying pressure to Cargill, in 2010 RAN began campaigning for responsible use of palm oil by food production giant General Mills through direct action tactics, negotiation and membership engagement; eight months later General Mills issued a strong palm oil policy and committed to getting all of its palm oil from responsible sources by 2015.  The campaign simultaneously collaborated with teenagers Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen to help them in their campaign to make Girl Scout Cookies palm-oil free. The two young women were awarded the prestigious Brower Youth Award for their work.
Energy and Finance Program
The Energy and Finance campaign targets financial institutions involved in the financing of destructive forestry and fossil fuels projects. Historically, the campaign has succeeded in obtaining strong environmental policies from banks such as Citi, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and others. Currently, the campaign focuses on discouraging banks' financing of coal projects, and especially mountaintop removal mining (MTR), principally within the United States. This form of surface mining uses millions of tons of explosives to blow apart mountain peaks in order to access the coal seam below. According to Rainforest Action Network, eight of nine banks that previously funded MTR have now established policies and criteria to restrict their funding of this devastating form of coal mining. Beginning in the Fall of 2011, the Energy and Finance Program has been campaigning to move Bank of America, whom they name as the leading US financier of the coal industry, to divest from their coal investments and invest in renewable energy sources.
We Can Change Chevron: Toxic Waste Oil
Launched in December 2009, the We Can Change Chevron campaign targets the California-based oil corporation for their subsidiary Texaco's dumping of 18 billion US gallons (68,000,000 m3) of waste oil into the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. We Can Change Chevron aims to pressure Chevron into paying for the cleanup of the waste oil pits abandoned by their subsidiary, and to develop an environmental and human rights policy that will prevent future scenarios like this from occurring in the future. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001, and asserts that Texaco completed its agreement to clean up its share of the waste generated by the joint venture between Texaco and Petroecuador, the state run oil company. The company claims it cleaned up one third of the waste, more than its share of the agreement with Petroecuador, and the rest of the responsibility lies with the state who has had sole ownership of the oil fields since 1992. The case resulted in a historic ruling against the oil giant, who was ordered to pay $18 billion in damages to the plaintiffs. After an appeal by Chevron, the judgement was upheld by an Ecuadorian court in January 2012.
In 2003, the organization was subpoenaed by the House Ways and Means Committee to hand over every document and piece of footage relating to all protests the organization participated in since 1993, in order to investigate whether they should be entitled to the tax-exempt status. The organization’s then-Executive Director Michael Brune labeled this investigation "the latest attempt to intimidate RAN's supporters, and a part of a larger and more disturbing effort by corporate interests to stifle dissent and control free speech."
The organization has come under fire from environmentalists opposed to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for its membership in that group, though RAN maintains that their engagement is necessary to push for stronger protection of forests and the rights of forest communities by the FSC.
- Amazon Rainforest
- Conservation ethic
- Conservation movement
- Environmental movement
- Environmental movement in the United States
- Glenn Switkes
- Rainforest Foundation Fund
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- Baron, David P.; Barlow, David S.; Barlow, Ann M.; Yurday, Erin (Jun 01, 2004), "Anatomy of a Corporate Campaign: Rainforest Action Network and Citigroup (B)", Stanford Graduate School of Business Baron, David P.; Barlow, David S.; Barlow, Ann M.; Yurday, Erin (Jun 01, 2004), "Anatomy of a Corporate Campaign: Rainforest Action Network and Citigroup (C)", Stanford Graduate School of Business
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- World Bank (2007), "Indonesia and Climate Change: Current Status and Policies", retrieved 2012-04-12
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- Richardson, Jill. "Worst Food Additive Ever? It's in Half of All Foods We Eat and Its Production Destroys Rainforests and Enslaves Children". Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- Jan Willem van Gelder, Greasy Palms: European Buyers of Indonesian Palm Oil, Friends of the Earth, 2004.
- "Statement on responsible palm oil sourcing". General Mills. September 22, 2010. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- Koch, Wendy (2010-09-24). "General Mills boycotts palm oil that destroys rain forests".
- Walsh, Bryan (May 31, 2011). "Making Girl Scout Cookies Better for the Planet". Time. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "2011 Award Winners". Brower Youth Awards. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "Mountaintop Removal Mining Environmental Due Diligence Process". Citigroup.com. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "Credit Policies". Bank of America. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "Environmental Sustainability at JPMorgan Chase". JPMorgan Chase. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- Cooper, Dave (2009-09-09). "Boulder from Mountaintop Coal Mine Smashes Into Kentucky Home". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- "Success Stories". Rainforest Action Network. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "BofA must come clean on coal". Charlotte Business Journal. February 24, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- Llana, Sara Miller. "Chevron fights massive lawsuit in Ecuador". Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- "History of Texaco and Chevron in Ecuador". Retrieved 2010-12-13.
- Gomez, Victor (January 3, 2012). "Ecuador court upholds $18 billion ruling against Chevron". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "Action Alert". Rainforest Action Network. Winter 2004. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- Barry, Glen. "Old-Growth Carbon Findings Cause Forest Protection Schism". Retrieved 2008-09-13.
- Rainforest Action Network. "Rainforest Action Network Statement on the FSC". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
- Rainforest Action Network
- Rainforest Action Network blog
- RAN's Tar Sands Campaign
- RAN's work to protect Grassy Narrows First Nation, in Kenora, Ontario
- RAN's activism to prevent deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations
- Rainforest web - World Rainforest Information Portal
- The Disappearing Rainforests from Raintree Nutrition
- Conservatives target the Rainforest Action Network at SourceWatch
- Guide to the Rainforest Action Network Records at The Bancroft Library