Down to Earth

Was 2017 the worst year for the environment?

Floods, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires: 2017 stood out for both the number and intensity of extreme weather events. But were the last twelve months more catastrophic for the environment than previous years?


For many, the election of Donald Trump as US president was the ultimate environmental bombshell. In his first year in office, he eliminated or started the rollback of more than 50 environmental rules, including the decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

This year also saw a rise in the amount of fossil fuels being burned, despite global efforts to turn away from coal and oil.

And while the number of extreme weather events can't necessarily be blamed specifically on climate change, the consequences were made more devastating because of it.

There are some reasons to be hopeful, though, including a movement of American states, cities and businesses which remain committed to action on climate change. France and the UK have also pledged to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, with China considering a similar move.

French climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte tells FRANCE 24 she doesn't believe ''in a single point of no return'' but warns that as each year gets warmer, humanity moves into an unknown world for which ''there are no lessons learned from the past''.

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