Earth Day, which is celebrated on 22 April, aims to support environmental protection, conservation, and awareness globally – with the theme this year being “climate action”.

History of Earth Day:

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 as 20 million Americans took to protest environmental issues and pave a new way forward. The first Earth Day, amongst other things, created the passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States. As the millennium approached, global warming became a larger, more daunting global issue. In 1990, Earth Day went global – assembling 200 million people in 141 countries. The day helped improve recycling efforts and paved the way to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

However, by 2000, global warming became even greater, marking the theme “global warming and a push for clean energy”. With the principal national coordinator, Denis Hayes, spearheading the events, Earth Day sent world leaders a loud and clear message as citizens around the globe wanted quick and decisive action. From then on, every Earth Day strived to be greater than the last, reach more people, and achieve more milestones. After the first Earth Day, a wave of action was launched, and the day continues to hold major international significance.

whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down. Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action.

Earth Day Today:

With climate change posing the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make the world habitable, at the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change. This agreement focuses on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and urges every country in the world to step up with urgency and ambition.

Earth Day 2020 is expected to be more than solely a day, it is expected to be a historic moment where citizens of the world will rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that is needed to meet the climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future. Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year. It is used as a day of action to change human behaviour and provoke policy changes globally – as the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency. Earth Day intends to be the steppingstone to bettering everyone’s lifestyle and, overall, help the environment.

…at the end of 2020, nations will be expected to increase their national commitments to the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change.

2020 Earth Day’s Goals and Events:

As 2020 signifies the 50th anniversary for Earth Day, a set of “ambitious” goals were set to shape the future of the 21st century with regards to environmentalism. Earth Day’s 2020 campaign aims to reach at least a billion people worldwide.

However, these campaigns cannot be done physically due to COVID-19. Earth Day has therefore planned events to take place online. A “digital strike” for global warming will take place on 22 April. People can participate in this strike by sharing the hashtags #EarthDay2020, #EARTHRISE, and by following @earthdaynetwork, Earth Day’s official twitter page that will provide live coverage on the day. More events will be noted on Earth Day’s website, https://www.earthday.org/. A person can also help Earth Day by volunteering.

Earth Day’s 2020 campaign aims to reach at least a billion people worldwide.

By signing up, a regular flow of resources will be provided, including ways to plan an event, chances to participate in citizen science, opportunities to engage with friends, and a platform to make voices heard. Tips on how to live greener will also be provided. Follow this link to become a volunteer: https://www.earthday.org/actions/volunteer.President of the Earth Day Network, Kathleen Rogers, urged that, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tools and urgency used to react should also be applied to the world’s response to climate change. She further said that “whether it be coronavirus or our global climate crisis, we cannot shut down. Instead, we must shift our energies and efforts to new ways to mobilize the world to action.”

Take part in Earth Day 2020 by taking to Twitter, and use your digital footprint to lessen your carbon footprint.

Image: Giovanna Janos, Marren McKay and the PDBY Editorial 2020

TSHEPANG RIHLAMPFU AND MARREN MCKAY