Very much what user4012 said, but there are other ways to convince and coerce people and corporations to do the right environmental thing.
The Inside Story Of How Greenpeace Built A Corporate Spanking Machine To Turn The Fortune 500 Into Climate Heroes
[They] unfurled a pair of 60-foot-tall banners on the front of each tower. The banners denounced Head & Shoulders, the antidandruff shampoo, for "putting tiger survival on the line" and "wip[ing] out dandruff & rainforests."
The problem is the aggressive manner in which the world's biggest palm-oil producers, based in Indonesia, have gone about meeting demand: burning and clear-cutting the nation's priceless tropical peat forests to the ground, then draining the underlying wetlands to make way for massive oil-palm plantations. As Greenpeace's banners made clear, that deforestation is destroying the habitat of the Sumatran tiger.
But truth be told, the animals are really beside the point. Greenpeace's tigers are a kind of decoy
"It's easy to say, 'If you're destroying forests, you're destroying tiger habitats,'" says Phil Radford, director of Greenpeace USA "It's harder to say, 'Do you know that forests store carbon and if we save the peat bogs we will trap all this carbon and methane in the soil?' We say both, but we start with the place that people are, the thing they care about the most first."
What seems to happen, inevitably, is the multinational company, eager to remove the stigma from its signature brand, promises to ensure that its products are sustainable and begins cancelling contracts with any third-party suppliers who fail to guarantee compliance.
Meanwhile, unlike several other environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Audubon Society, Conservation International, and the Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace does not accept corporate or government funds. "We don't have anything for sale," says Rolf Skar, Greenpeace's forests campaign director. "What we learned from that is it was unrealistic to expect government to take the lead," Skar says. "In order for government to reform land use, generally they need some sort of consensus.
Giving Up On Government
Greenpeace's energetic crusade to turn corporate transgressors into eco-champions came about in response to a sudden realization that the traditional approach, pushing for government regulation, had become a spectacular failure.
"A lot of NGOs working on deforestation had a bit of a pipe dream that some sort of U.N. climate treaty or U.S. law, cap and trade or something, would save the day," says Rolf Skar. "The disappointment that was Copenhagen" — the 2009 U.N. climate summit widely regarded as a bust — "left a lot of us scratching our heads about what to we could go next."
In many of the key countries where Greenpeace operates, authoritarian regimes and rampant corruption can create further difficulties.
"What we've come to learn from Indonesia and other countries that are incredibly corrupt, is if you can flip enough companies, then civil societies and the companies together can get laws passed," Radford says.
Dealing with multinational corporations is a walk in the park. "Companies tend not to show up with automatic rifles and start shooting inches above your head," Skar observers, referring to the aggressive tactics employed by the Russian military in the arctic standoff.
They also worked to address the problem in your question about CFCs.
A Greenpeace staffer in Germany had worked with a scientist to pioneer a clean new refrigeration technology, dubbed Greenfreeze, which had since been widely adopted throughout Europe and Asia, resulting in a massive decline in the release of hydrofluorocarbons.
For an example with water and rivers (not air), Markets Not Capitalism, pg. 415 (PDF pg. 427)
The Clean Water Act versus Clean Water
For a perfect illustration of how legislative environmentalism is actively hurting environmental action,
check out this short item in the Dispatches section of the May 2010 Atlantic.
The story is about toxic mine runoff in Colorado, and describes how
statist anti-pollution laws are stopping small, local environmental groups
from actually taking direct, simple steps toward containing the lethal pollution
that is constantly running into their communities’ rivers. Also, how
big national environmental groups are lobbying hard to make sure that the
smaller, grassroots environmental groups keep getting blocked by the Feds.
Near Silverton, the problem became bad enough to galvanize
landowners, miners, environmentalists, and local officials into
a volunteer effort to address the drainage… With a few relatively
simple and inexpensive fixes, such as concrete plugs for
mine portals and artificial wetlands that absorb mine waste,
the Silverton volunteers say they could further reduce the
amount of acid mine drainage flowing into local rivers. “In
some cases, it would be simple enough just to go up there with
a shovel and redirect the water,” says William Simon, a former
Berkeley ecology professor who has spent much of the past 15
years leading cleanup projects.
But as these volunteers prepare to tackle the main source of
the pollution, the mines themselves, they face an unexpected
obstacle – the Clean Water Act. Under federal law, anyone
wanting to clean up water flowing from a hard rock mine
must bring it up to the act’s stringent water-quality standards
and take responsibility for containing the pollution – forever.
Would-be do-gooders become the legal “operators” of abandoned
mines like those near Silverton, and therefore liable for
Under anything resembling principles of justice, people ought to be held
responsible for the damage they cause, not for the problems that remain after
they try to repair damage caused by somebody else, now long gone.