Earth Day 2020April 20, 2020
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Wednesday, 22 April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In honour of this milestone, CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain hub member Paul Allen will be joining online conversations on finance, the economy and the need for a new vision as we prepare to re-boot our world.
Half a century ago, on 22 April 1970, 20 million Americans, 10% of the U.S. population at that time, took to the streets, campuses and auditoriums in massive coast-to-coast rallies calling for a healthy, sustainable environment. The concept of Earth Day was initiated by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, after witnessing the devastation from a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
Senator Nelson recognised that if he could cross-fertilise the energy of anti-war protests with the growing public awareness around damage to the Earth, it could help drive protection of the environment much deeper into the cultural and political agenda. This first Earth Day sparked the passage in the U.S. of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, Earth Day is the largest secular event in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to shift both human behaviour and national and international policy. However, after years of platitudes and under-ambitious delivery, the social and cultural energies we saw in 1970 have been rising up again – over the past couple of years, massive numbers of people of all ages have joined in rebellion, taking to the streets by the millions to demand a new way forward.
Join the largest ever online climate conference
Earth Day 2020 is set against the new reality of COVID 19 — so taking to the streets is not currently an option. However digital and social media are stepping in, exploring new ways to bring together conversations, solutions, training and a sense of connection across a global audience, uniting concerned citizens as never before and enabling us to assemble the skills needed take on the greatest challenge that humankind has faced. Each year has a theme, this year it’s climate change.
From 22 April, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, to 24 April, activists, performers, thought leaders and artists will come together for an empowering, inspiring, and communal three-day livestream mobilisation. From Stockholm and Washington there will be the largest ever climate conference online broadcast with leading voices from business, governments, academia, scientific think tanks, artists and activists.
The pandemic emergency is large enough and immediate enough to make us stop, question and re-evaluate our entire way of living, but thankfully it is a crisis that we hope to resolve with our science, technology and creativity. But the climate challenge is different – unless we act fast enough to avert the global tipping points we may well not have the power to prevent serious ongoing impacts. If we re-boot the old fossil fuelled energy extreme normality we are set to drive our Earth-systems across crucial runaway warming points. The sheer scale and speed of the resulting climate feedbacks will mean there is very little we will be able to do to protect the safe niche nature currently offers us. So, as Earth Day 2020 approaches we must press and plan for a re-boot to a new normal.
Explore the transition to zero carbon
To support Earth Day 2020, CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Hub team member Paul Allen will be joining Andrew Simms and Professor Julia Steinberger on XR Reset TV to explore finance, the economy and the need for a new vision as humanity prepares to re-boot our world. From 18:15 (17:00 GMT) on 22 April, the panel’s role will be to open new solutions-focused conversations around zero-carbon and the transformation required to get there. Following initial presentations and discussions on the necessary transformation, the floor will be open to on-line questions from the audience. To register click here
As part of our CAT at home series, on 28 and 29 April CAT is offering a Zero Carbon Britain online course – providing an overview of the very latest developments in science and technology which show that the UK can reduce our emissions to net zero using only proven existing technology – to find out more visit https://www.cat.org.uk/events/zero-carbon-britain-live-online/
CAT Earth Day family activities
There’s much we can all do to help protect and restore our Earth, why not celebrate Earth Day 2020 by opening conversations in your own community own family groups. On Wednesday, CAT will be launching new family activities to help engage children in climate change and the natural world during the period of lock-down. The ‘Celebrate the Earth: Family Summit’ helps guide families to look inwards at their own lives and discuss ways of working towards a greener future. For Family Summit instructions and many more family activities, visit the #CATatHome web pages.