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The Year in Climate

THE YEAR IN CLIMATE

2020 was a crisis year: a pandemic, economic turmoil, social upheaval. And running through it all, climate change. Here’s some of the best reporting from The Times’s Climate Desk.

Disasters

At the turn of the new year, huge wildfires were burning the coast of Australia, which had just marked its hottest, driest year on record.


Half a world away, California recorded its own worst fire season this fall, driven in part by hot, dry conditions. Huge infernos scorched the landscape, devastating magnificent trees and wreaking havoc in the lives of millions of Americans.





In South America, a quarter of the world’s largest wetland was also consumed by flames.


Meanwhile, as fires raged, polar ice melted, temperatures soared and a record number of storms formed and made landfall in the United States — the most ever in one year.




Inequality

The impacts of climate change are not equally felt throughout the world — not within one country or even in a single city.





Coronavirus

The pandemic, in many ways, echoed the threat of climate change: It was global in scale, hit the vulnerable hardest and required collective action to avert the worst. But it moved more swiftly.




The virus also drove down emissions, but not in the way anyone would have wanted.


Big business

As the pandemic surged and the planet warmed, the oil and gas industry faced a crisis of its own.




Real estate felt the first gusts of its own coming storm as banks grew increasingly concerned about climate threats to the housing market.



Some industries, like beef, grappled with their climate footprints and their futures, too.


The Politics

President Trump’s administration continued to reverse and revise environmental protections, even on the way out of office.







Joseph R. Biden Jr. ran on the opposite promise: to refocus on climate change and environmental justice. Now that he’s won, what can he accomplish?


And ICYMI

The year wasn’t all news. We produced explainers and guides covering everything from your personal climate choices to how states make electricity.






A big thanks to all our readers.