2016 was a challenging year for people and the planet. It brought many challenges that will continue in the year ahead – a changing climate, greedy corporations and politicians whose policies spell trouble for the planet.

As we look back on 2016, it's clear there's a lot of work still to be done. It's difficult to pick just a few images among the over 20,000 images our photographers have made while covering the struggle for a green and peaceful future all around the world. Here are some of this year’s highlights, and a reminder of why we need to continue the good fight. We couldn’t have done this work without all of you, thank you, and on to 2017!

Greenpeace activists in London climbed Nelson’s Column, putting an emergency face mask on the statue to demand action on air pollution. A separate Greenpeace team eluded security and climbed over the fence around the Houses of Parliament to put another mask on Oliver Cromwell’s statue.Greenpeace UK activists in London climbed Nelson’s Column, putting an emergency face mask on the statue to demand action on air pollution. 

 

As part of the 5-year Fukushima and 30-year Chernobyl anniversaries, Greenpeace commissioned Greg McNevin for a Lightmapping project. Using long exposure photography and a custom made geiger counter-enabled LED light painting tool, these images make the invisible visible: measuring and displaying radiation levels in real-time, in the environments in which it exists.As part of the 5-year Fukushima and 30-year Chernobyl anniversaries, Greenpeace commissioned Greg McNevin for a Lightmapping project. Using long exposure photography and a custom made geiger counter-enabled LED light painting tool, these images make the invisible visible: measuring and displaying radiation levels in real-time, in the environments in which it exists.

 

Aerial view of a FAD (fish aggregating device) at night. Greenpeace was in the Indian Ocean in April to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices.Aerial view of a FAD (fish aggregating device) at night. The Esperanza was in the Indian Ocean in April to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices.

 

A Greenpeace investigator in Indonesia documents the devastation of a company-identified 'No Go' area of peatland in the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. This area of the concession suffered extensive fires in 2015.A Greenpeace Indonesia investigator documents the devastation of a company-identified 'No Go' area of peatland in the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. This area of the concession suffered extensive fires in 2015.

 

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer water temperatures. Bleaching is caused by the warmer temperature of the waters brought about by the El Nino system. This current event gives a window into the impacts of climate change.The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer water temperatures. This gives a window into the impacts of climate change.

 

Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs one of his own compositions on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway).  The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by eight million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi, the grand piano and eight million voices to Svalbard.

Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs one of his own compositions on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway).

The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by eight million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi, the grand piano and eight million voices to Svalbard.

 

In August 2016, Greenpeace flew over the Brazilian Amazon to search for and record forest fires.This shows the level of deforestation, in Rondônia state, next to the capital Porto Velho. This year's forest fire season is already being considered one of the worst ever.In August 2016, Greenpeace Brazil flew over the Amazon to search for and record forest fires.This shows the level of deforestation, in Rondônia state, next to the capital Porto Velho. This year's forest fire season is already being considered one of the worst ever.

 

Water Protectors engineered a makeshift wooden pedestrian bridge over the Cantapeta Creek. They were trying to access ancestral burial grounds they believe are being damaged by the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Heavily armed law enforcement officials were deployed. As they pulled the bridge apart with boats, the Water Protectors swam and used their own boats to cross the water. Standing unarmed in the cold water, the protectors were forcibly repelled by the enforcers with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Standoffs between the Water Protectors and law enforcement over the Dakota Access Pipeline continue in the area that has become ground zero for opposition to a $3.7 billion project that would move domestic crude oil across four states and destroy tribal lands.Water Protectors engineered a makeshift wooden pedestrian bridge over the Cantapeta Creek. They were trying to access ancestral burial grounds they believe are being damaged by the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Heavily armed law enforcement officials were deployed. As they pulled the bridge apart with boats, the Water Protectors swam and used their own boats to cross the water. Standing unarmed in the cold water, the protectors were forcibly repelled by the enforcers with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Standoffs between the Water Protectors and law enforcement over the Dakota Access Pipeline continue in the area that has become ground zero for opposition to a $3.7 billion project that would move domestic crude oil across four states and destroy tribal lands.

 

The landscape north of Clyde River, near Sam Ford Fjord. This region is at risk from seismic blasting and potential future Arctic oil drilling. Greenpeace was invited to the Clyde River community to support their fight against seismic blasting, assist with solar panel installation, and to participate in a series of knowledge-sharing events.The landscape north of Clyde River, near Sam Ford Fjord. This region is at risk from seismic blasting and potential future Arctic oil drilling. Greenpeace Canada was invited to the Clyde River community to support their fight against seismic blasting, assist with solar panel installation, and to participate in a series of knowledge-sharing events.

 

Greenpeace volunteers help suppress a wildfire near the Cossack village Berezanovskaya, Russia. The team was on its way back home when they witnessed the wildfire.Greenpeace Russia volunteers help suppress a wildfire near the Cossack village Berezanovskaya, Russia. The team was on its way back home when they witnessed the wildfire.

 

Aerial view over two walruses on an ice floe in front of Kvitøya (White Island) in the Svalbard Archipelago. The decline of sea ice in the northern latitudes signals not only climate change, but a direct threat to the habitat of many wildlife species, who depend on it for resting, breeding and hunting.Aerial view over two walruses on an ice floe in front of Kvitøya (White Island) in the Svalbard Archipelago. The decline of sea ice in the northern latitudes signals not only climate change, but a direct threat to the habitat of many wildlife species, who depend on it for resting, breeding and hunting.

 

Dakar, Senegal. Two ships leave the harbour at the same time. The Senegalese sailors look at the Chinese crew on the other ship. The depletion of China’s domestic fishery resources, which resulted from irresponsible fishing activities in China’s coastal water and poor fishery management, has forced Chinese fishing vessels to travel over tens of thousands miles to find fish in other fishing grounds like the one near West Africa. Two ships leave the harbour at the same time in Dakar, Senegal. The Senegalese sailors look at the Chinese crew on the other ship. The depletion of China’s domestic fishery resources, which resulted from irresponsible fishing activities in China’s coastal water and poor fishery management, has forced Chinese fishing vessels to travel over tens of thousands miles to find fish in other fishing grounds like the one near West Africa.

 

Two Munduruku boys walk along a river while holding spears. The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. The Brazilian government plans to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life. Two Munduruku boys walk along a river while holding spears. The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. The Brazilian government plans to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life.

 

Greenpeace activists closed off access to all importing and exporting by palm oil trader IOI in the  Netherlands’ Rotterdam harbour, palm oil’s gateway into Europe. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza was moored to the dock at the back of the refinery, preventing palm oil from being unloaded from incoming oil tankers.Greenpeace Netherlands activists closed off access to all importing and exporting by palm oil trader IOI in the  Netherlands’ Rotterdam harbour, palm oil’s gateway into Europe. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza was moored to the dock at the back of the refinery, preventing palm oil from being unloaded from incoming oil tankers.

 

Maïa Booker is a Multimedia Editor for the Americas.