The Indigenous and environmental rights movement was stronger than ever…

132982_235021

A water protector holds up an eagle feather in front a line of police at a camp near the Standing Rock Reservation.

This year proved that when real life David and Goliath battles happen, word spreads, people listen, the truth eventually comes out, and the movement becomes bigger and stronger.

– A mega-dam planned for construction in the heart of the Amazon, had its license cancelled – a massive victory for the Munduruku people and more than 1.2 million people around the world who supported the campaign.

– The people of Clyde River – an Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic –  went to the Supreme Court of Canada for the government’s failure to properly consult the community before handing permits to fossil fuel companies for oil exploration in the area.

– And after a rough, threatening, and tense battle, dedication and perseverance paid off for the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies when the Dakota access pipeline was finally halted.

…and so is the fight to hold the Big Polluters accountable.

This year, a wave of people-powered legal cases – including in the Philippines, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland and USA – gained momentum to keep fossil fuels in the ground and demand a stable climate and healthy environment.

From disaster survivors, frontline communities, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, youth, grandmothers, and more, these people are pushing back because fossil fuel companies and governments are failing to protect and respect human rights.

Renewables kept winning…

There’s no stopping the power of the sun…or the wind! Renewables has kept growing with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) report showing declining coal use and significant renewable energy uptake, providing renewed hope for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

…and it kicked coal’s butt.

China’s long running campaign to reduce coal consumption continues to reverberate globally:

– Vietnam committed to coal free development, ending plans for 70 new coal fired plants

– Obama placed a moratorium on new coal new leases in the U.S.

– Mines were closed or lost permits in Poland, Romania, Belgium, and Israel; with huge influence swayed in the Netherlands, France, Brazil and India to place pressure on governments to close their plants.

Coal plant in Yulin, Shaanxi province

Coal plant in Yulin, Shaanxi province

Oil drilling was given the big heave-ho…

BP was about to bring its “Deep Water Horizon version 2.0” to Australia’s southern coast, but constant campaigning pressured BP to pull out from its oil drilling plans.

Statoil also pulled out of plans to drill off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island (though is planning to drill elsewhere).

And best of all, Obama and Trudeau banned offshore drilling in parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. Hurray for whales!

…and forests were saved.

85% of the forested areas of the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada were protected from logging – a size larger than Belgium! 

The Amazon rainforest was protected from being cleared for soybean farming and a soy moratorium has been put in place – big news for the Amazon, for Indigenous Peoples, farmers, business and for all of us around the world fighting to end deforestation.

Best of all, pandas were saved from illegal logging in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – after Greenpeace China uncovered that a shocking 3,200 acres had been clear cut to make way for plantations of profitable timber.

Following this exposé, the Sichuan Forestry Bureau took action and launched their own investigation, saving the pandas’ home from reckless destruction

A Grizzly Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada

A Grizzly Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada

All this means lots of animals were protected.

Actions by Greenpeace and other environmental, local and indigenous organisations resulted in the cancellation of Iceland’s fin whale hunt.  

Seismic testing was banned in parts of Canada

And lots of marine animals were given the long-awaited sanctuary they deserve in Antarctica’s Ross Sea and Hawaii!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgreenpeace.international%2Fvideos%2F10154287075203300%2F&width=600&show_text=false&height=438&appId

Other bans kept on coming…

National plastic bans and restrictions happened in France, England, Morocco, Netherlands, India, and Indonesia.

German supermarket Aldi Sud banned bee harming pesticides from their domestic fruit and vegetable production.

The fishing industry adopted a self imposed moratorium on fishing in the previously frozen North Barents Sea, an area twice the size of France. 

About 0.5mm or smaller in size, these tiny beads really pack a punch, running scot-free into our oceans and impacting marine life.About 0.5mm or smaller in size, these tiny beads really pack a punch, running scot-free into our oceans and impacting marine life.

…And most of all the world finally reached a global climate agreement.

In the face of a climate change denier coming to power in the US, ratification of the Paris Agreement by 118 countries by the year end was a sign of hope and unity, that we WILL overcome climate change for a green and peaceful planet. 

2016 is just the start of some great environmental wins, against some formidable odds. Bring it on, 2017. Let’s keep the movement building!

*AUTHOR: Shuk-Wah Chung is a Writer and Content Editor for the Communications Hub at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter here.