Celebrating Earth Day 2021

Published by Georgia Crump on

With global CO2 emissions already back above pre-pandemic levels, Earth Day 2021 is as important as ever. On this day every year, we celebrate our planet and raise awareness of the need to fight climate change. Last year, over 1 billion people in 192 countries took part in Earth Day activities, making it the largest civic observance worldwide. 

Thanks to the pandemic, things will be a little different this year as people cannot gather for Earth Day events as we have in the past. But there are still plenty of ways that individuals and businesses can get involved with Earth Day activities this year. 

When is Earth Day 2021?

Earth Day 2021 will be celebrated on the 22nd of April every year, but events take place across the entire week and month. This year, organisers EARTHDAY.ORG are calling for three days of climate action. This starts on the 20th April and culminates on the 22nd.   

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day started in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference when peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honour the Earth and the concept of peace. The following year, the first official celebration took place in the United States. Attended by over 20 million people, the first Earth Day remains the largest single protest in human history. 

In 1990, Earth Day went international, with 200 million people marking the day across 141 countries. Since then, Earth Day activities have continued to grow in size and scale. Today, people take part in events throughout April to raise awareness around the protection of our planet.

Why is Earth Day 2021 important?

Historically, Earth Day holds international significance for leaders around the world. It’s no coincidence that in 2016 the UN chose Earth Day to sign the Paris Agreement. This remains the most significant climate accord in the history of the climate movement. The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 countries who all committed to taking action to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. 

Earth Day is an opportunity to challenge global leaders to take action against climate change and implement changes that work towards a more sustainable future for our planet. Over the past year, there has been a lot of talk about using the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink our behaviours. Yet already emissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels. With lockdown steadily easing, we’re going to need dramatic measures to keep global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees. 

“This Earth Day, we have an important opportunity to challenge our leaders to commit to climate action on a global scale,” says Kathleen Rogers, president of EARTHDAY.ORG. “We are at the edge of a cliff – if we don’t act now to reduce carbon emissions, there will be no way back.”

What is this year’s theme?

This year, the theme for Earth Day campaigns is RESTORE OUR EARTH. This focuses not just on the damage done by Covid-19, but also the destructive impact of human activity on the planet more generally. 

“At the heart of Earth Day’s 2021 theme, Restore Our Earth, is optimism, a critically needed sentiment in a world ravaged by both climate change and the pandemic. Restoring Our Earth is about solving climate change through the world’s natural systems, such as regenerative agriculture practices and reforestation, as well as through existing and safe technologies. Restoring our planet will also require the commitment of our world’s leaders to support climate literacy and civic skill building so that we can create a global engaged and active citizenry, a green consumer movement, and an economy that is just and equitable across all countries and across all demographics,” says Rogers. 

What events are going on this Earth Day?

Although in most countries around the world people are not able to gather in large numbers, there are thousands of events taking place both in person and online. You can see what’s going on near you with this handy map

The EARTHDAY.ORG team have also created a toolkit for anyone to get involved. With this, you can organise a teach-in to educate people about climate change, a cleanup to pick up litter in your local area, or get your event listed on the global map. 

You can also tune in to Earth Day Live with virtual summits across the 20th – 22nd April. On the final day there will be a virtual summit including workshops, panel discussions, and special performances from global leaders, activists, actors and musicians. 

How can individuals take climate action this Earth Day?

For everyday people, knowing where to start fighting climate change can be hard. Understanding how your daily habits and lifestyle choices impact the planet is an important first step. For Earth Day this year, Treepoints has teamed up with 6 sustainable brands to show people how simple switches in our routines can make a positive difference. For example, using Wild’s zero-waste compostable deodorant rather than a plastic tube, and buying ethical, biodegradable period products from Grace & Green. 

How can businesses celebrate Earth Day?

For businesses, even those working remotely, there are still lots of ways to mark Earth Day. You might want to use the day to educate your employees, such as by hosting a climate change book club or film screening. We recommend There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee and David Attenborough’s documentary A Life On Our Planet. 

You can also choose this month to offset your company carbon emissions and plant trees for your business. Offsetting the entirety of your emissions gets you to carbon neutral. And after this point you start accounting for your past emissions. Tree planting is one of the best climate solutions we have, providing homes for wildlife, preventing desertification, and rejuvenating barren soil. This is all in addition to removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Throughout this month, Treepoints is committed to matching the impact of all new members. So this means that your climate contribution is doubled for free. Head to our main site to find out more about our business subscriptions.    

What else can you do to help the planet?

As far as we’re concerned, every day should be an Earth Day, and needs to be if we’re going to meet our net zero targets. To have a meaningful impact, individuals and businesses can all offset their carbon emissions. This supports green technology initiatives and the transition to renewable energy, such as solar and wind power plants. When you’ve offset the entirety of your emissions, you’re carbon neutral. For just £3.25 per month, the average UK citizen can offset their entire annual footprint.

Treat every day like Earth Day.