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Earth Day 2023

Join the billions of individual actions taking place all over the world on 22 April
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Teenage girl holding signs during on a demonstration for environmentalism

This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 22 April 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

As the world’s largest environmental movement, Earth Day is an opportunity for people of all backgrounds and geographies to come together – everyone, everywhere, all at once for a better world.

22 April is truly a global day of action, making it a source of inspiration to advance sustainability and climate progress.

The first Earth Day took place in the US in 1970, and was largely focused on pollution issues.

The outcomes of Earth Day 1970 reflected this focus with the establishment of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Environmental Protection Agency.

As the world and the environmental movement have evolved over the last half century, so too has Earth Day; it is now a global movement that advocates for the most pressing challenges facing the modern world.

‘We still stand strong in the fight against pollution – especially surrounding plastics’, says Evan Raskin, Earth Day’s national campaign manager. ‘But there is now a significant focus on addressing climate change; we want to help decision-makers of all stripes take meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One thing that has never changed is our advocacy for climate and environmental literacy – adaptation always begins with education.’

What’s new for Earth Day 2023?

Earth Day is about the billions of individual actions taken worldwide towards a greener, more equitable future.

This year, several programmes will serve as pillars of action in honour of the day’s overarching theme: Invest In Our Planet.

The Canopy Project empowers conservation and restoration efforts around the globe by offering individuals the opportunity to strengthen their communities and fight against climate change in hope for a greener future.

By addressing the public’s lack of understanding about the inner workings of the fashion industry, Fashion for the Earth calls on the youth of the world to take a proactive approach in addressing the industry’s environmental impacts.

Plastic pollution impacts every single organism on our planet. On Earth Day, and every other day, people can take action to tackle the problem.

The Great Global Cleanup calls on governments, institutions and individuals around the world to help fight the manmade environmental crisis while also working to improve habitats and prevent harm to wildlife and humans.

As we continue in the race against climate change, building a brighter future requires an urgent prioritisation of equitable climate education and environmental literacy.

The Climate Education and Environmental Literacy Campaign is igniting an educational revolution to ensure students receive high-quality education regardless of where they are in the world, empowering them to be engaged and informed environmental stewards.

‘We have the money, the ingenuity and the resources’, Evan tells us. ‘If governments, institutions, businesses and individuals each invest in our planet by allocating time, money, innovation and social commitment towards these areas of action, we would be able to mitigate the impacts of climate change.’

The power of collective action

Central to each Earth Day is the premise that everyone has a role to play in building a sustainable and prosperous future. But will small changes made by millions of people be enough to avoid catastrophic tipping points?

‘Yes and no’, Evan accepts. ‘We must never lose sight of who is emitting the majority of climate pollution and who has the greatest capacity to implement large-scale solutions. 71% of all carbon emissions stem from only 100 companies, and the richest 10% of the global population contribute as much climate pollution as the rest of the world combined. To avoid these tipping points, significant changes must occur within these populations, anchored by significant government action.’

Governments arguably have the greatest power to affect the air, land, water and climate upon which we all depend; in addition to their ability to legislate and advance climate-positive policies, they are also able to regulate and incentivise businesses to operate sustainably. Yet this power, at its root, is essentially in our hands.

‘In a democracy, governments are made up of public servants who are elected to represent their constituents’, Evan tells us. ‘For them to do their job properly, it’s up to citizens to make their voices heard and ensure that our elected leaders represent the will of the people.’

Evan cites research that suggests 65% of Americans believe the federal government isn’t doing enough to address climate, yet most nevertheless remain silent on the issue.

‘In fact, an estimated 13 million people who care about the environment do not regularly vote’, he says. ‘Imagine a world in which all of these citizens were vocal about the issues that matter to them, their families and their communities. We would certainly be on track for a brighter future!’

In addition to wielding political clout, individuals have incredible power to force businesses to support sustainable practices and climate action.

‘The environmental destruction caused by the meat and plastics industries, for example, are enabled by the public’s complacency’, Evan says. ‘When lots of individuals decide to make small changes to limit their consumption of goods and services that harm the planet, it adds up to a significantly positive impact.’

If we are to reach the goals we all share, everyone needs to feel empowered to do their bit. When we recognise our own agency it becomes easier to take that next step forward and participate in advocacy, volunteer opportunities and other high-impact actions.

‘We’re all in this together’, Evan says. ‘The barriers to making a difference are much lower than you’d expect, and the benefits are greater than most are aware.’

Invest in Our Planet

For 2023, Earth Day organisers are encouraging everyone to dedicate their time, resources and effort to sustainable solutions that would not only prevent climate catastrophes and ensure human survival, but also lead to a happier, healthier and wealthier future for communities everywhere.

This year’s theme, ’Invest In Our Planet’, is a continuation of the 2022 campaign that saw a surge in meaningful, large-scale environmental action.

Across the globe, countries began enacting policies to end single-us plastics, and in the USA the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law, marking the largest climate investment of any government policy in history.

The momentum continues for Earth Day 2023, and this year there is a focus on climate finance.

Globally, only about 16% of climate finance needs are currently being met; to meet the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, the global community needs to collectively commit to ‘Invest In Our Planet’ on a greater scale.

Individuals have also been considering their role in climate finance in the lead-up to Earth Day.

On March 21, thousands of protesters turned up to over 100 events across the US outside branches of JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America – banks that collectively finance a quarter of the total global fossil fuel industry.

Individuals invest their money to ensure a stable future for themselves; it’s no surprise that there’s a strong call for banks to stop using our money to endanger that future by bankrolling climate pollution.

The future of Earth Day

Evan would like to see Earth Day 2023 unfold with more events happening globally than ever before, with millions upon millions of people turning out in their communities to marches, rallies, protests, cleanups and other volunteer activities.

He’d like notable leaders from the public and private sectors to be inspired to announce new, tangible commitments to Invest In Our Planet.

When night falls on 22 April 2023, Evan hopes we will be closer to a trajectory that makes a 1.5ºC future a reality, and that the world will feel more energised than ever to take on the challenges that will define our era of human civilisation.

‘While all of us in the environmental industry hope to work ourselves out of a job, there will never be a day when Earth Day is no longer needed’, Evan reveals. ‘One day – hopefully by 2050 – we’ll no longer need Earth Day to help prevent ecological catastrophes, but it’s essential that as long as our civilisation remains, we always take time to remember that humanity’s existence is inseparable from the forces of nature.’

‘Earth Day will always be needed as a reminder that we are all part of the same whole’, Evan continued, ‘and that it is our responsibility to care for our one and only home and all who inhabit it.’

Click here to find an Earth Day event taking place near you.

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