Winners of the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 announced at Cop26

This year’s winning images aim to reflect the disastrous state of our planet, and humankind’s ability to adapt and innovate for the future.

9 November 2021

From flooded homes to a photobioreactor, this year’s environmental photographers demonstrate not only how we have pummelled the earth to its last legs, but that there is hope for the future through innovative and sustainable man-made technologies.

The awards are held in collaboration between independent charity Ciwem and WaterBear, the first streaming platform dedicated to climate issues. Spanish photographer Antonio Aragón Renuncio has won the top prize of Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 for his photo titled The rising tide sons, which shows a child sleeping inside his house destroyed by coastal erosion on Afiadenyigba beach in Ghana. The photo shines a spotlight on the rising sea levels in West African countries, which has forced thousands of people to leave their homes.

Antonio Aragón Renuncio’s winning image shows a child asleep inside a house destroyed by coastal erosion on a beach in Ghana, where the rising sea levels have forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Whilst Kevin Ochieng Onyango’s image The Last Breath is a striking depiction of a little boy breathing through a face mask and tube attached to a plant seedling, demonstrating our need for the oxygen that trees – our earth’s lungs – produce and the harmful Co2 they absorb.

Other images show algal blooms in West Bengal, which prevent oxygen absorption by the organisms underneath them and subsequently impact human health and habitats in the surrounding area, photographed by Sandipani Chattopadhyay. And Amaan Ali photographs one boy’s attempt at fighting a blazing bushfire in New Delhi, which was awarded the Young Environmental Photographer of the Year.

Although the official awards have been announced at this year’s Cop26 climate conference, the voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open to the public, accessible through social media. To vote, visit The Environmental Photographer of the Year on Instagram and vote before 1 December 2021.


Antonio Aragon Renuncio: The Rising Tide Sons, courtesy of Ciwem, 2021


Amaan Ali: Inferno, courtesy of Ciwem, 2021


Sandipani Chattopadhyay: Green Barrier, courtesy of Ciwem, 2021


Simone Tramonte: Net-zero transition, courtesy of Ciwem, 2021

Response & Responsibility – Cop26

During the next two weeks, over 120 world leaders are meeting in Glasgow to agree on the actions needed to pull the earth back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. The most important conference of our lifetime, in response, we are exploring creative responses to the climate crisis throughout the duration of Cop26. 

Read the full series

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Kevin Ochieng Onyango: The Last Breath, courtesy of Ciwem, 2021

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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