1971: The first campaign
Our first action was to return thousands of empty bottles to the London HQ of Cadbury Schweppes, to promote re-use and better use of the planet's resources. It set the tone for a peaceful and effective style of campaigning.
Friends of the Earth's first public meeting was held in the back room of a department store. Here, administrator Anfel Potter (centre) displays some of our first campaigning materials.
Glow home Nirex
Demonstrators blockade a drilling team that plans to investigate whether Fulbeck airfield in Lincolnshire could be used for the shallow burial of nuclear waste in 1987. The plans were abandoned before the June General Election later that year.
Local group vs pollution
Our grassroots groups fight planet-wrecking projects and protect their local environment in many ways. Here, members of Halton Friends of the Earth take samples of river water from the Mersey for pollution testing in 1991.
The right to protest
Roadbuilding through Twyford Down sparked a struggle over the right to protest. Tony Juniper, here at the Twyford Mass Trespass in 1993, went on to become Friends of the Earth's director from 2002-2008.
In 1994, we used a series of billboards to highlight the problem of acid rain. Leading the UK's first campaign on acid rain, we persuaded the government to accept the need to cut the emissions responsible.
Mahogany is Murder
In the early 90s, we led an international campaign to expose the damage caused by extracting mahogany from rainforests. Support from local groups and comedian Alexei Sayle and a demo outside Harrods helped attract attention.
Brazil's exports of the hardwood to the UK fell to 40% by 1995.
Local communities campaigned together in 1996 to oppose the construction of the Newbury Bypass, a road that cut through five nationally important wild habitats. The campaign helped force a major rethink of government roadbuilding plans.
Comedian Ben Elton (centre) joins a 1997 rally to tackle the impacts of increased traffic. Drafted and promoted by Friends of the Earth, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, the Road Traffic Reduction Act became law in 1997.
Our 25th anniversary
To mark our 25th year we helped launch "Art on the Buses", a moving exhibition aimed at raising awareness of the climate crisis. Poet Lemn Sissay (pictured) was one of the participating artists.
In the late 90s we worked with Age Concern and others to press for an end to poorly insulated homes. The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act was passed in 2000.
Earth Summit 2002
In 2002 we worked with community groups across South Africa to create an installation outside the Johannesburg Earth Summit. The mixed-media sculpture highlighted the need to prioritise a healthy environment ahead of business profit.
Together with our incredible grassroots groups, we led the campaign to bring doorstep recycling to every home. MP Joan Ruddock introduced our House Waste and Recycling Bill to parliament, and it became law in 2003.
In 2003, we joined Kurdish human rights organisations to protest the use of UK taxpayers' money to fund a proposed pipeline from the Caspian Sea. The pipeline threatened to reignite conflicts, threaten pollution and accelerate global warming.
GM-free food and farming
In the early 2000s we joined others in calling for GM-free food and farming. Our campaigning helped halt commercial planting of GM crops, keep GM foods off supermarket shelves and prompt local authorities to declare themselves GM free.
Make poverty history
A lot of our work centres on highlighting global injustice and ensuring a safer, fairer world for all. In 2005, we united with thousands at the Make Poverty History rally where our calls for debt cancellation and more aid were met with global action.
The Big Ask
The Big Ask campaign proved people power can change the world. Lasting three years, it involved our entire grassroots network and attracted the support of hundreds of thousands of people through campaigning and events like the Big Ask Live benefit gig with Radiohead.
Thanks to campaigners and people like you, the UK government brought in the historic Climate Change Act in 2008, tying government to achieving at least 80% cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050.
Stand up for South Downs
Our grassroots network has helped protect multiple green spaces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. After nearly two decades of campaigning, the South Downs was designated a National Park in 2009.
Campaigning tactics like the "commoote" in 2010 helped us highlight the link between rainforest destruction in South America and livestock feeds in the UK. Within months, the government acknowledged the need for action to make livestock farming more sustainable.
Court victory 2012
In 2012 we won our legal challenge against the government’s plans to close down most of the hugely successful feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes. Their plans threatened Britain’s booming new solar industry and put 30,000 recently-created jobs at risk.
Action Plan for Bees
In June 2013 we parked a billboard in David Cameron's constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire in June 2013. It displayed the names of 10,000 people calling on the then-PM to save British bees by drawing up a National Bee Action Plan.
Save Devon's Beavers
Exclusive footage of a mother and a baby beaver in 2014 helped us ramp up support to keep England's first wild beavers in centuries in the wild.
Solar competition 2015
Stoneydown Park Primary School took gold in our national competition to win free solar panels with a video of solar-powered inventions by children. It was a message to ministers that every school should be given the resources to run on sun.
Paris Climate Talks
In December 2015, we joined thousands of people in small groups all over Paris to spell out a giant message to world leaders from the streets of Paris.
Press play and get inspired by global action.
Clean Air campaign
Our Clean Air Kits sold out in hours as hundreds took part in our national air pollution investigation. The kits, launched in September 2016, helped people all over the country research air pollution where they live.
Energy Bill 2018
After seven years of campaigning alongside groups and MPs like Glenda Jackson, new legislation was introduced making it illegal to rent out properties that don't meet a minimum energy efficiency standard – a win for people and planet.
Bee-harming pesticides ban
In 2018, years of campaigning and public pressure was greeted by a permanent EU-wide ban (including the UK) on three neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide that harms bees and other wildlife.
No coal in Nant Llesg
The campaign to prevent a new coal mine in Nant Llesg ended in victory for the local community after the Planning Inspectorate ruled the mining company hadn't responded to appeal requests in time, paving the way for a fossil-free future for Wales.
In 2018, Oxford Friends of Earth worked with local group Save Otmoor to successfully protect Otmoor wetlands in Oxfordshire from a proposed expressway. It was the second time in 40 years the wetland had been saved from destruction.
Road rejection 2019
After 30 years of campaigning by Friends of the Earth Cymru and local groups, the M4 relief road was finally rejected. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford ruled against the new road on cost and environmental grounds.
In November 2019, the government announced a moratorium on fracking in England.
The announcement followed 8 years of protests, arrests, demonstrations, remonstrations, letters, emails, tears, rightful fears, and incredibly community organising by the grassroots network.
Press play and meet some of the local campaigners.
Heathrow Court victory
In 2020 with your support, we scored a huge victory for the planet alongside West London local groups when the Court of Appeal agreed that plans to build a third runway at Heathrow were illegal. But it's not over yet... read more.
Coal campaigners and Save Druridge local group secured a hard-fought win in 2020 after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick refused planning permission for a controversial opencast coal mine, deeming it "environmentally unacceptable".