2020: the year in pictures

12 iconic photos from a year of disruptions - and the struggle to protect our future

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In 2020, Covid 19 changed daily realities in every corner of the world. The crisis has exposed a system of inequality putting the health of the people and planet at risk.

And although the main priority is to save lives, the world also needs a green and just recovery from the pandemic. The broken food system needs fixing. The climate crisis needs tackling. And our forests need protecting.

With your help, Greenpeace has been able to continue building the movement for a green and peaceful future. And reflecting on this year, here are some highlights which were only possible thanks to your support.

January – investigating the climate crisis in Antarctica

A colony of chinstrap penguins gathers on a rock. A Greenpeace ship is visible in the background.

© Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

In January, Greenpeace returned to the Antarctic on the last stage of the Protect the Oceans Expedition, a year long pole to pole voyage. We teamed up with a group of scientists to investigate and document the impacts the climate crisis is already having in this area.

February – calling for ocean protection

Two penguin ice sculptures are half submerged by the rising tide in the River Thames in London. The iconic dome of St Paul's cathedral is visible in the background

© David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists installed a two-metre high penguin ice sculpture on the shore of the River Thames opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was part of a campaign to highlight the threats to marine life as part of a global call by Greenpeace for greater action on ocean protection.

March – demanding an end to Barclays’ investment in fossil fuels

Members of the public look at photos of destruction caused by climate change, displayed in a temporary container placed in front of the entrance of a Barclays Bank branch

© Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace

Pop-up exhibitions placed by Greenpeace activists blocked the access to major Barclays bank branches in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. The exhibitions displayed photographs of some of the worst climate emergency disasters in the four years since the Paris Climate agreement was signed. Pictured here is Belfast.

April – movement for a green future

A holographic projection of people marching with a banner reading 'Our future', on a city street at night.

© Tim Dirven / Greenpeace

As Covid-19 protective measures were limiting public protest, a virtual march in front of the EU council building in Brussels sent the vital signal to European decision makers to invest in people and the planet, not polluters.

May – asking BP to keep it in the ground and go renewable

Two activists wearing masks and red sashes stand in front of BP's headquarters holding a large banner reading "BP: time to go renewable"

© Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

Greenpeace UK activists staged a socially distanced protest outside BP’s Annual General Meeting, which was broadcast from their London headquarters, asking the company to stop drilling for new oil and gas and switch to renewables.

Just a few months later, BP announced that it would cut its oil and gas production by 40% in the next decade, and massively increase its renewable energy investment. This is the first time ever that a major oil company has committed to keeping oil and gas in the ground.

June – studying the impacts of climate change on sea life

A red starfish clings to the side of a mound on the seabed. A diver is visible in the background.

© Lorenzo Moscia / Greenpeace

As part of the Defending Our Oceans Tour, Greenpeace placed a temperature monitoring station at Elba island, Italy, in the area of the Pelagos Sanctuary. Working with the University of Genova first project results’ indicated that rising temperatures are killing iconic underwater creatures.

July – calling for a green recovery and investment in public transport

Greenpeace volunteers in fluorescent jackets apply stencils to a road surface, with a beautiful dawn sky in the background.

© Greenpeace

Greenpeace volunteers sprayed the messages ‘less cars, more bikes‘, ‘more space for people‘ and ‘more walking‘ in chalk on roads across the UK to call for a green recovery from the health crisis, including investment in local public transport, walking and cycling. Pictured here is Eastbourne.

August – monitoring fires and deforestation in the Amazon

Rainforest trees are silhouetted against an orange backdrop of smoke from an ongoing forest fire.

© Christian Braga / Greenpeace

Every year, Greenpeace Brazil flies over the Amazon to monitor deforestation build up and forest fires. In August, 2020, the team found enormous destruction from fires in the states of Amazonas, Rondônia, Mato Grosso and Pará.

September – documenting the impact of climate change in the Arctic

Youth activist Mya-Rose Craig stands on an ice floe holding a hand-painted sign reading "Youth strike for climate"

© Daniella Zalcman / Greenpeace

18-year-old environmental activist and campaigner Mya-Rose Craig visited the Arctic as part of the most northerly climate strike at 82.2° North. A Greenpeace team was in the region to document the impact of the climate crisis and investigate marine life in the region.

October – preventing destructive bottom trawling

A Greenpeace crew member looks on as a boulder is lifted on board the ship. A row of giant port cranes are visible in the background
An activist paints stencilled coordinates onto a large boulder on the deck of a ship

The crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza created a seabed ‘boulder barrier’ to stop harmful bottom-trawling in a 47 square mile area of the North Sea. Activists placed heavy granite boulders on the sea bed in the Dogger Bank region, making it impossible for industrial fishing ships to drag their nets along the bottom.

A boulder splashes into the water as crewmembers look on.

© Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

Dogger Bank is officially designated as a Marine Protected Area, but the government still allows destructive fishing in this and other supposedly protected areas.

November –  raising  awareness about Tesco’s part in forest destruction

A member of the public takes a photo of a realistic animatronic jaguar sitting on top of a van branded with satirical tesco Graphics and slogans like 'Every little harms'.

© Luca Marino / Greenpeace

A life-size animatronic jaguar roared from the roof of what appeared to be a Tesco delivery van. Luna the jaguar greeted staff and customers at Tesco stores across the UK to highlight the environmental destruction caused by industrial meat sold by the supermarket chain. Pictured here is Tunbridge Wells.

December – demanding climate action on the anniversary of the Paris agreement

Greenpeace climbers in masks and helmets hang from a dark latticed metal structure, displaying a large yellow banner that reads "No more fake promises. Give us the real deal."

© Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Spain activists scaled the replica of the Eiffel Tower in Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) on the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, reminding political leaders that more needs to be done to address the climate emergency.

From the whole Greenpeace crew – thank you

The crew of a Greenpeace ship wave at the camera while holding a bright yellow banner reading "Thank you". A snowy Antarctic landscape is visible in the background.

© Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace

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