Major environmental events worldwide in 2018
Wang Yushen

It is two sessions season and topics over environmental protection and ecological civilization again became the center of discussions. Before this year's environmental procedures flesh out, let's go through some of the major environmental events that happened around the world in 2018. 

On March 11, 2018, China officially wrote Ecological civilization into its constitution, a sign of determination to fill in the long-standing gap between economic developments and ecological protection. 

Two days later, a new administrative branch, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, was set up in China. Besides compiling and implementing related policies and standards, it highlighted efforts on regulating pollution control and nuclear and radiation safety, while organizing inspections of central authorities on environmental protection, all hot topics.

Since then, China's splashiest ecological moves have developed much sooner than expected. For a decade and a half, the fruitful results of rural revitalization have become highly visible. 

On September 26, in New York, the United Nations' top environmental honor, the "Champions of the Earth Award" went to Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program, for the transformation of a once-heavily polluted area of rivers and streams. The UN's website refers to this program as "An exceptionally successful eco-restoration" example. 

Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program, before and after. /CGTN Photo

Zhejiang's Green Rural Revival Program, before and after. /CGTN Photo

All-around ecological environmental protection is expanding to more fields. 

On October 8, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to U.S. environmental economists William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. They are credited with "integrating climate change and technological innovation" into the long-run macroeconomic analysis. 

However, there were also sad stories.

In early November, one of California's massive seasonal wildfires attracted global attention. With 249 people missing, 86 deaths, and 14,000 homes burned, discussions resurfaced over extreme weather caused by natural disasters and climate change. 

At the same time in South America, destruction of the Amazon rain forest reached its highest level in a decade. In just 12 months, Brazil saw a 14% increase in deforestation, with almost 8,000 square kilometers of forest flattened, and all due to illegal logging and agricultural erosion of the jungle. 

Finally, 2018 ended with a chilling announcement. 

Japanese Chief Cabnit Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced late December that the country would “resume commercial whaling starting in July of 2019 and to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission."

The decision prompted criticism from conservationists and other nations including New Zealand, Australia whose tourism industries rely heavily on the migration of whales and the UK whose environment secretary, Michael Gove, said he was "extremely disappointed" by Japan's move.