2016 seen through the eyes of the planet. LifeGate’s year in review

Some of the most significant news stories of the year. From the Paris Agreement to the Colombian peace deal, here’s our 2016 in review: the last 12 months seen through the lens of sustainability.

By Lorenzo Brenna, Rudi Bressa and Mara Budgen

“A difficult year”, “A horrible year”, “Worst. Year. Ever”. These are just some of the words used by the international press to describe 2016. “It was tempting to view the year as a freak surge of ahistorical exceptionalism,” writes Decca Aitkenhead on the Guardian, yet, “There was nothing magical or inexplicable about 2016”. Yes, during its course the conflicts in Syria and Iraq as well as the refugee crisis didn’t come to an end, the world was hit by terrorist attacks like the one in Brussels, and millions voted in favour of Brexit and Trump’s election. However, these aren’t anomalous facts but the consequences of choices we as a global community have made over the course of history.

The world is in our hands. If we really think 2016 was an annus horribilis (a horrible year), this should encourage us to commit to, demand and fight for a better 2017. Starting from the environment. The protection of nature and the health of our planet is at the heart of our mission – as is safeguarding human lives and rights, inextricably linked to environmental issues. Here are some of the news items that most characterised 2016 from the point of view of our commitments and values. Some positive, some negative, others open to interpretation. Stories we’ve told tirelessly bringing you news from the world of sustainability.


A huge win for the Sioux: the Dakota Access Pipeline has been blocked

dakota access pipeline

Brazil does a U-turn on fracking. Indigenous lands protected from oil and gas exploration


China, two disabled friends plant 10,000 trees to sow the seeds of a better future

china trees

The ozone hole is shrinking. The planet’s biggest wound is on the road to recovery

ozone shrinks


Colombia, the peace deal between the FARC and government explained

peace in Colombia

Juan Manuel Santos wins the Nobel Peace Prize 2016

Juan Manuel Santos

Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

Bob Dylan

Bayer acquires Monsanto for 66 billion dollars

Bayer Monsanto

Australia. 52,000 hectares of land returned to Larrakia Aboriginals



The Paris Agreement enters into force

paris agreement

What it means to live in a world with CO2 concentrations above 400 ppm

400 ppm

August 2016 was the hottest month recorded in the last 136 years

record temperatures

The first mammal has become extinct due to climate change



Costa Rica has used 100% renewable energy for 150 days in a row, so far

pannelli solari

Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for four consecutive days

offshore wind energy

Solar Impulse 2 completes round-the-world trip thanks to the sole power of the sun

Solar Impulse



The Earth has lost 58% of its wildlife in the past 40 years

biodiversity orangutan

Global wild tiger populations are on the rise for the first time in 100 years


Australia, one third of the Great Barrier Reef has died

great barrier reef 2016

The giant panda is no longer endangered

giant panda

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