This year has brought home the impacts of the climate crisis for many people.
Copyright  AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

From droughts to soup-splashed paintings: Here are the most striking environmental photos of 2022

By Euronews

In 2022, the devastating impact of climate change became increasingly visible. 

Droughts and wildfires consumed entire continents, crops failed, and millions of people were forced to move as their homes became uninhabitable. 

But people also fought back, as we recognised the urgency with which action is needed to slow the growing impact of the climate crisis. 

Here are some of the biggest climate stories of 2022 in photos. 

Lithium mining increased to fuel the electric car boom

Tom Hegen
'Lithium Fields' in the Salar de Atacama salt flats in northern Chile.Tom Hegen

Lithium represents one way out of our global reliance on fossil fuels. But, as photographer Tom Hegen captured in South America, there is a dark side to our swiftly electrifying world.

Mining this chemical can be deeply harmful to the environment. Hegen's aerial photos document the 'Lithium Triangle' located where the borders of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia meet. 

Europe sweltered through the worst drought in 500 years - and lakes dried up

This summer saw Europe's worst drought in 500 years. Record-breaking temperatures and low rainfall led to wildfires, rivers running dry and crops failing.

At one point, nearly two-thirds of the EU was under some kind of drought warning. 

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
A police officer gives water to a British soldier wearing a traditional bearskin hat on guard duty outside Buckingham Palace, during a heat wave in London in July.AP Photo/Matt Dunham

As water levels in reservoirs sank to their lowest levels in decades, all sorts of structures started to emerge. Parts of the old village of Aceredo in northwestern Spain reemerged as drought hit the Lindoso reservoir. 

It was submerged three decades ago when a hydropower dam flooded the valley. 

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File
The old village of Aceredo which was submerged three decades ago when a hydropower dam flooded the valley.AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File

Wildfires blazed around the world

There were significant wildfires in Portugal, Greece, France and the US, to name a few. Blazes chewed through homes and forests with photos acting as an intense reminder of the damage these fires can unleash.

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Firefighters and police evacuate an elderly woman from her house amid wildfires in Penteli, Greece.AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Pakistan was hit by extreme flooding

Extreme weather conditions driven by climate change also saw Pakistan hit by historic rains and flooding in September. At least 1,700 people were killed and over €40 billion in damages were done across the country. 

At one point, a third of the country was submerged, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to move to safer places. The waters washed away or damaged 2 million homes. 

AP Photo/Fareed Khan, File
Women carry belongings salvaged from their flooded home after monsoon rains, in the Qambar Shahdadkot district of Sindh Province, of Pakistan.AP Photo/Fareed Khan, File

Some areas were still underwater more than a month after the torrential rainfall. But the South Asian nation is responsible for less than 1 per cent of global emissions - a stark reminder of the realities of climate injustice. 

Pakistan is among the 10 countries worst affected by climate change and led a push at COP27 for rich countries to recognise the vulnerability of the developing world

AP Photo/Fareed Khan
Flood victims from monsoon rain use a makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province in September.AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Climate activists took to the streets - and to the insides of art galleries

In October, protest group Just Stop Oil kicked off a month of action by throwing soup over Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery in London. 

They also defaced luxury car showrooms, the headquarters of a climate sceptic think tank and blocked roads and bridges. Earlier this year, we spoke to some of the activists behind the art protests to find out more about why they were doing it. 

Just Stop Oil/Handout via REUTERS
Activists of "Just Stop Oil" glue their hands to the wall after throwing soup at van Gogh's painting "Sunflowers" at the National Gallery in London in October.Just Stop Oil/Handout via REUTERS

The Brazilian election brought hope for the Amazon

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was met at COP27 in November by huge crowds. After his election victory in October, he promised bolder environmental action in the next for years, including fighting for zero deforestation in the Amazon

He faces a stiff challenge but told the UN climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt that "Brazil is back".  

AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty
Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, centre, leaves after speaking at COP27.AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

Extreme weather events are likely to continue getting worse as climate change pushed global temperatures higher. 

Four years of drought and deforestation caused by people cutting down trees for farming and fuel have turned the Androy region of Madagascar into a dust bowl. 

REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo
Sand begins to surround houses close to the town of Ambovombe, Androy region, Madagascar.REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

This year, millions in the country faced famine. Food shortages were compounded by three cyclones and one tropical storm that ravaged the country back in January. 

At COP27 in November, developing nations pushed for the formation of a Loss and Damage fund to compensate developing nations on the front lines of the climate crisis.