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  • Lauren Russell

How the world is celebrating Earth Day in 2021

Earth Day has been celebrated annually on April 22nd since the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

But for yet another year celebrations will be ‘unusual’ taking place online instead of in person, due to the continued restrictions COVID-19 puts in our way.

However this has not stopped organisers and many others across the globe preparing a whole host of events in order to mark this important yearly event.

Here is a whistle-stop tour of how the world is celebrating Earth Day in 2021.

First and foremost official organisers are hosting three days of climate action, streaming from April 20th-22nd.

Focusing on this year's apt theme of #RestoreOurEarth, there have been multiple summits already including the global youth climate led by Earth Uprising, and ‘We Shall Breathe’ digital event. Both which featured speeches and panels examining how climate and environmental justice connects to the younger generation and other hugely important humanitarian struggles such as poverty, police brutality and racial justice.

On April 22nd, there will be more exclusive events beginning at 12PM eastern time. Touching on topics such as: climate and environmental literacy, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture and citizen science.

The message seems clear throughout all of events. On their website they state: “the leaders of tomorrow will come to push us towards a better world.” They are striving to educate and to initiate discussion concerning a wide variety of topics beyond just that of environmental protection.

After four years of inaction under former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden is hosting a two-day virtual climate summit ahead of the next major UN talks later this year. With up to 40 world leaders in attendance, this is arguably one of the biggest events to take place commemorating Earth Day this year.

The aim of the summit is to encourage countries to make stronger commitments to The Paris Agreement and each country's nationally determined contributions (NDC). In layman's terms, an NDC is a country's plan of action on how they will reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions, in order to reach the goal of a global warming level below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

Importantly the list of invited world leaders includes Chinese leader Xi Jinping. With China and America the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, this newly discovered common interest in battling climate change will be welcomed around the world.

Boris Johnson will also be virtually attending and speaking at the summit alongside world leaders from but not limited to, Spain, Denmark, Colombia and India.

Whilst the virtual summit takes place inside, outside of Congress climate activist Greta Thunberg is planning to testify.

Tactfully planned for the same time as the world leader summit, Thunberg will be speaking on a Housing Oversight Committee panel entitled ‘The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis’.

Coupled with this, she has called for world leaders to stop setting targets that are full of loopholes. In an exclusive letter for Vogue she added that target-setting allowed for “creative climate accounting” meaning that governments can essentially cheat their way past environmental goals.

Another notable event taking place is being run by NASA. From Wednesday 21st April through to Saturday 24th April #ConnectedByEarth will feature live presentations by NASA scientists as well as interactive chats with Earth scientists and downloadable educational resources.

The piester resistance I hear you ask? A live Q+A with Shawn Mendes and 5 people living and working in space, concentrating on how the astronauts study Earth from space. Taking place on 22nd April at 11:00am EDT.

Alongside these worldwide recognised events, local action is still hugely important. There is the opportunity to sign up and volunteer with a clean-up group, or even try your hand at ‘plogging’- mixing the art of jogging with picking up litter.

A few registered events occurring across Britain include:

Feature image credit: Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

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