2021: the year in pictures

2021 has been another tough year, full of uncertainties. But a green and peaceful future is possible, and together we kept up the fight for a better world. As always, these powerful campaigns produced some incredible images. Here’s a selection of the best, month-by-month.


January – documenting the climate crisis and Covid solidarity

As a new president was inaugurated in the US, parts of Indonesia were hit by serious flooding.  Seasonal heavy rainfall and massive land clearing for palm oil and coal mining resulted in water levels rising up to two meters in South Kalimantan, inundating hundreds of houses and forced thousands residents to flee their homes and find shelter on higher ground.

Two men carry small children through chest-deep flood water.

Volunteers evacuate children affected by the floods in Sungai Raya Village, Banjar Regency, South Kalimantan. © Putra / Greenpeace


The sun sets behind a small propellor plane, as a person pushes a trolley loaded with large cardboard boxes towards the open side door.

Greenpeace crews deliver emergency medical supplies to remote communities in the Amazon. Using boats, trucks and a small plane, the Wings of Emergency project supplied masks, oxygen tanks, syringes and other essentials to Indigenous communities who were especially hard-hit by Covid-19. © Valentina Ricardo / Greenpeace

February – protecting our oceans

Greenpeace built a new underwater ‘boulder barrier’ about 30 miles off the coast of Sussex. The barrier is designed to stop destructive fishing in what’s supposed to be a protected part of the ocean, and expose the government’s failure to look after its so-called Marine Protected Areas all around the UK.

A boulder is silhouetted against a bright blue sky as it's lifted off the deck of a ship by a crane. Crew members surround the boulder, using ropes to control its movement.

The crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza manoeuvre a boulder into position, ready to place on the seabed. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

Working from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, activists placed granite boulders across 55 square miles of seabed in the Offshore Brighton Marine Protected Area. These boulders will deter destructive industrial ‘bottom trawlers’ from fishing in that area, because they risk damaging their fishing gear if it comes into contact with the boulders. 

A boulder throws up a plume of rainbow spray as it's released from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza into the sea.

A boulder throws up a plume of rainbow spray as it’s placed in the sea by the crew of the Esperanza. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

Meanwhile, Greenpeace crews monitored underdocumented fishing fleets in the Indian Ocean.

Photographed from below, the prow of a giant fishing boat looms out of the darkness, surrounded by a halo of mist. Bright lights used to attract squid make the surrounding water appear bright green.

Greenpeace monitors a Chinese flagged squid boat in the Northern Indian Ocean. Under documented fishing fleets like this kill an estimated 80-100,000 whales and dolphins per year as accidental ‘bycatch’. © Abbie Trayler-Smith / Greenpeace

March – investigating waste dumps in Turkey and fighting for the climate

Greenpeace investigators found plastic packaging from UK, German and global food and drinks brands and supermarkets in a waste dump in Turkey.

A masked investigator in a Greenpeace tshirt stands in a desolate-looking waste dump. Smoke rises from the piles of smouldering plastic in the background. She holds up a yellow piece of plastic packaging with English writing visible on the front.

A Greenpeace investigator finds plastic waste from the UK at a waste dump at Karahan Kuyumcular, a village in Adana, Turkey. © Caner Ozkan / Greenpeace


Suspended in a clear blue ocean, an activist in a snorkel, fins, rash vest and shorts holds up a sign reading 'Youth strike for climate'.

Climate advocate and scientist Shaama Sandooyea holds the world’s first underwater climate strike in the Saya de Malha bank, an important habitat in the Indian Ocean. © Tommy Trenchard / Greenpeace


Activists in hi-vis jackets paste a large poster onto a window in a city street. A cathedral is visible in the background. Slogans on the poster say 'Stop new oil licenses. Retraining for workers. Invest in renewables'.

Greenpeace activists placed posters and placards opposite the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in London. The campaign is demanding an end to new oil and gas drilling, and a ‘just transition’ to allow fossil fuel workers to leave the declining industry and secure jobs in renewable energy and clean technology. © Luca Marino / Greenpeace

April – fighting deep sea mining and Amazon deforestation

Greenpeace UK volunteers across the UK took part in a nationwide protest calling for the UK government to ban deep sea mining, while the campaign against Amazon destruction stepped up a gear.

Two activists in green masks stand behind a large banner reading 'Dorset is deeply against deep sea mining'. The activist on the right carries a baby in a front-mounted carrier, and in the background a Victorian pier reaches into a calm blue sea.

Greenpeace UK volunteers in Bournemouth take part in a nationwide protest calling for the UK Government to ban deep sea mining. © Greenpeace


Aerial view shows a dense forest in the upper half of the image, which gives way to bare, scorched earth in the lower half.

Deforestation recorded by Greenpeace Brazil during a flight over the state of Roraima, in the Amazon. © Christian Braga / Greenpeace


View over the shoulder of a member of the public taking a photo of a mural showing a burning supermarket trolley pouring with black smoke.

Street art in Liverpool highlights Tesco’s role in driving the destruction of the Amazon. Huge areas of forest are slashed and burned and replaced with soya plantations to feed livestock sold in Tesco’s meat aisles. © Fionn Guilfoyle / Greenpeace

May – continuing the fight to protect our oceans and highlighting the plastics crisis

Realistic computer rendering shows an aerial view of ornate municipal buildings dwarfed by a gigantic pile of plastic waste. A red London bus drives down the road in the foreground.

A still from the Greenpeace film Wasteminster. The animation helps viewers visualise how much plastic the UK is dumping on other countries by showing what it would look like piled up on Boris Johnson’s doorstep. © Greenpeace / Park Village, Studio Birthplace

A rigid-hulled inflatable boat speeds through the water with activists in yellow survival suits on board. Tall white chalk cliffs are visible in the background.

Greenpeace launched Operation Ocean Witness, a major new project to monitor and document destructive fishing in the UK’s Marine Protected Areas. © Fionn Guilfoyle / Greenpeace


Overhead image of a huge fish close to the surface of the ocean. The ripples on the water cast intricate patterns on its back.

Thousands of miles away, a Greenpeace crew spotted this common dolphinfish hunting at night, while confronting the deep sea mining industry in the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. © Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace

June – highlighting forest crime, supporting indigenous people and sending a message at the G7 summit

Hundreds of illuminated drones forming the shape of animals spread across the night sky. On a cliff below, the words 'Stop extinction' are projected in bold yellow lettering.

300 drones send a powerful message to world leaders attending the G7 summit in Cornwall. © Greenpeace


An Indigenous person in a traditional feather headdress and face paint holds a red-painted open palm up close to the camera.

Over 850 people, from 45 Indigenous groups, gathered in Brasilia for the Stand Up For The Earth camp. They demanded vaccines, food safety and respect for their rights, as well as denouncing the Bolsonaro government’s anti environmental agenda. © Adriano Machado / Greenpeace


Activists stand behind three-dimensional white block letters, each one the size of a person, spelling out 'Forest crime'. Each letter is covered in messages (not readable in this image) written in black pen. Behind them a glass-fronted building with a large Tesco logo is visible.

Activists welcomed shareholders to Tesco’s AGM in Welwyn Garden City with a 10 metre wide installation highlighting Tesco’s role in driving deforestation. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

July – fighting the plastic crisis and pushing for a just transition

A suited figure in a caricatured Boris Johnson mask stands in front of a huge pile of transparent bin bags filled with plastic waste. In the background, the railings and buildings of Downing Street are visible.

Greenpeace activists dumped 625kg of plastic waste at the Prime Minister’s gate, the same volume that the UK exports every 30 seconds, calling for a ban on plastic waste exports. © Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace


A large group of children stand in front of the railings of Downing Street holding colourful hand-drawn signs calling for an end to plastic waste exports.

Soon after, a group of Year 4 schoolchildren from Thomas’s Clapham school in Wandsworth, together with their MP, Marsha de Cordova gathered in the same spot to deliver their letters on the issue to the Prime Minister. © David Mirzoeff / Greenpeace

Members of the public write messages on a wind turbine blade printed with the message 'Just transition for oil workers'

Members of the public in Dundee signed a wind turbine blade with messages calling for a just transition for oil workers to renewable energy and clean technology. © Robert Ormerod / Greenpeace

August – campaigning against the Cambo oil field and standing in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

A vast crowd of people, many wearing traditional Brazilian Indigenous People's clothing, gather for a protest under a bright cloudy sky

Over five thousand Indigenous Peoples from all over Brazil gathered in Brasília for the Struggle for Life camp, for a week of activities, mobilizations, actions and meetings. © Tuane Fernandes / Greenpeace


A group of protestors at a march, smiling. They hold banners, which read "Struggle [for] life", "Defend Indigenous rights", "protect indigenous peoples". One sign in Portugese, reads "Sangue Indigena Nunhuma Gota a mais"

In London, people joined a demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy in London, in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples’ struggle for rights and justice. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

Two people in kayaks hold up a sign reading "Boris: Stop Cambo". Behind them is a massive ship with large equipment for an off-shore rig.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace activists in kayaks confronted a ship loading drilling infrastructure for the Cambo oil field outside Stavanger, Norway. The troubled Cambo project is now ‘on pause’ after Shell pulled out of its partnership with Siccar Energy to exploit the field. © Espen Mills / Greenpeace

September – confronting supertrawlers and supporting small scale fishermen

Two people on a speed boat, with "Greenpeace" on the side, sail past a huge industrial fishing ship. One person in the speedboat holds a banner saying "Get Ocean Protection Done".

Activists confront the supertrawler Maartje Theadora fishing inside a Marine Protected Area in the English Channel. As part of Operation Ocean Witness, the Greenpeace team patrolled protected waters around the UK’s south coast to do what the government should have been doing all along – protecting these crucial habitats from destructive fishing. © Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace


A fisherman leans over the rail of his small boat, smiling at the camera. Banners hang from the side of the boat, reading "Protect oceans, protect jobs" and "Ban Supertrawlers".

Further inland, a flotilla of small-scale fishing boats, accompanied by Greenpeace UK activists, sailed up the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament. Their message to the UK government: without urgent action to stop industrial fishing, fishing communities and sea life will suffer irreparable harm. © Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace

October – fighting for the climate, sailing to COP26 and protesting against the Cambo oil field

Greenpeace activists staged a protest at Downing Street with a 12 foot statue of Boris Johnson soaked in oil. Signs and banners called on the Prime Minister to block the Cambo oil field. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace


Aerial view of Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, on the water at sunset. Between the sails is a large banner reading "Stop Failing Us". Hills can be seen in the background.

Then, at the end of the month, youth activists from some of the countries and communities most affected by climate change sailed to COP26 on board the iconic Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

The four youth climate activists – Jakapita from Namibia, Farzana from Bangladesh, Maria from Mexico and Edwin from Uganda – braved Covid restrictions, border bureaucracy and the UK’s hostile immigration system to bring their message to world leaders in Glasgow. © Suzanne Plunkett / Greenpeace

November – demanding climate justice at COP26

Wide view of the central concourse at COP26. People are gathered underneath a giant globe that hangs overhead. Lifted by green balloons, a banner floats in front of the globe reading 'Not for sale'.

Greenpeace activists raised a banner reading “NOT FOR SALE” against the iconic giant globe at the centre of the COP26 conference hall in Glasgow, as talks entered their final hours. © Emily Macinnes / Greenpeace


A group of masked young activists gathered round the camera. They're energetic and animated, with hands raised or cupped to their mouths as they chant slogans.

Fridays For Future activists staged a protest outside the plenary room at COP26. Activists shouting “Keep it in the text!”, referring to the first mention of Fossil Fuels in the agreement, which some countries were trying to remove. © Marie Jacquemin / Greenpeace


Climate marcher holds a sign saying 'Gays for Greta'

One of many creative signs that appeared during climate marches during COP26. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace

December – campaigning against deep sea mining and forest destruction

Two climbers hang on the side of a tall tower made of steel beams. Between the climbers is a yellow banner reading "No Deep Sea Mining!". Port infrastructure and open water can be seen in the background.

Greenpeace activists from Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland unfolded a banner on the Mining Vessel Hidden Gem in the Waalhaven port of Rotterdam. The Swiss-owned drilling ship was in port for renovations which will allow it to mine metals and rare earth materials in the deep sea. © Greenpeace

a life-size poster of a man, Tesco's CEO, glued onto a bus stop. The man is holding a Chicken with a speech bubble, the chicken says "Ken, can we rethink my diet"? A Tesco store can be seen in the background.
A volunteer putting up a life-size poster depicting Tesco's CEO holding a chicken onto a graffitied wall.

Volunteers across the UK put up lifesize satirical posters of Tesco CEO Ken Murphy. The campaign calls on Tesco to halve the amount of meat and dairy they sell by 2025, replacing it with plant-based food and drop all forest destroyers from their supply chains. Pictured above are Portsmouth and Newcastle.

A huge thank you from the whole Greenpeace team for all you’ve done in 2021!

Two people standing on a speedboat in the ocean, holding a sign saying "Thank You". A green ship with "Greenpeace" painted across can be seen behind them.

Greenpeace campaigners Dan Jones and Mariajo Caballero send a message to Greenpeace supporters from the Indian ocean. © Tommy Trenchard / Greenpeace

What's next?