2015’s Biggest Environmental Moments, as Told by Social Media

by Ryan Schleeter

December 18, 2015

2015 gave the environmental movement much to be proud of. Relive (and retweet) your favorite moments and recharge for the next year of environmental hashtivism.

#ShellNo At Night

Activists light up the night with a #ShellNo sign in Portland Harbor. Photo by Backbone Campaign.

This was an incredible year for the environmental movement. But don’t take it from me, take it from the Twitterverse (or Annie Leonard).

The Year Fossil Fuels Lost

It’s not a great time to be a fossil fuel baron — which makes it a good time to be just about anyone else.

On one hand, there’s the mounting evidence that the world is ready to move away from fossil fuels. On the other, there’s the increase in availability and affordability of renewable energy sources and radical advances in the technologies behind them.

Here are a few reasons we’re going with team renewables.

It’s breaking records left and right:

U.S. cities are basically in a race to see who can get to 100 percent renewable energy first:

Even big tech companies like Google are getting in on the fun:

Recognizing the Ties Between Social and Environmental Justice

Whether we’re standing up to corporations polluting our environment or to the systems perpetuating racism and violence in our country, fighting injustices across the spectrum is key to creating the sustainable future we all deserve.

This year, environmentalists were privileged to stand with allies in some powerful moments of social progress.

We rejoiced with LGBTQ allies when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality:

We marched with civil rights allies and called on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act:

We commemorated the ten years since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast:

And we stood with the Black Lives Matter movement to demand racial justice:

Remarkable Acts of Courage

Activists went to new heights this year to fight for the environment — literally. From a wave of global actions to save the Arctic through to innovative mobilizations on the doorstep of the Paris climate talks, people power delivered message after powerful message in 2015.

There was time that six brave activists mounted Shell’s massive Arctic drilling rig in the middle of the Pacific …

… and the times that activists formed formidable blockades — in air and on the water — in Seattle and Portland.

This generated momentum that carried into President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline

… and came to a head during massive demonstrations in Paris this month.

We Did a Few Nice Things for Nature

OK, given that we’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction, this might not be the year to celebrate all we’ve done to protect nature and wildlife. Mark that down as a New Year’s resolution: save more animals in 2016.

Still, we managed to do some good deeds for nature this year, like when the U.K. established the world’s largest marine reserve …

… or when Texas banned the shark fin trade.

Animals, in turn, continued to amaze us. Like these heroic conservation dogs …

… and these stupidly adorable sloths.

And if you haven’t yet, head over to our friends at Racing Extinction to learn more about the role we all play in saving threatened species.

People Stood Up to Corporate Power

The people spoke up big time this year, and companies listened. Here are just a few of the companies taking critical steps on sustainability because of your action this year.

Post-It Note maker 3M is making good on its promise to protect the world’s forests

… and major Indonesian pulp and paper company APRIL committed to zero deforestation.

The spotlight has never been brighter on the seafood industry than it is right now. From destructive fishing methods that harm our oceans to multiple investigations revealing human rights abuses, consumers are rightfully concerned about the seafood on their plates.

While some grocery stores and seafood companies have taken action, others have yet to answer the call. Until they do, we’ll be here to put the pressure on.

What Will the Story of 2016 Be?

2015 gave us plenty of reason to be inspired. But of course, there’s more work ahead of us.

So we’re asking — what will 2016’s environmental victories look like? And how will you be a part of them?

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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