Living as people of hope for the 50th Earth Day

‘Floella’s Future’ flower display by Birmingham City Council, gold medallist at the Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Wednesday 22 April 2020 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day – the worldwide day of action which, in 1970, saw 20 million Americans protesting against the destruction of the environment.

The 1970 action, involving 10 percent of all Americans, kick-started a raft of legislation and is credited with launching the modern environmental movement. 22 April has been celebrated ever since; on Earth Day 2016, 170 countries signed the historic Paris Agreement, committing to legally binding global warming targets.

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action, and while the world is gripped by the COVID-19 crisis, the Earth Day team is inviting 24 hours of ‘global digital mobilisation’ using #EarthDay2020 to flood the Internet with voices for change. Each hour on 22 April, there will be a new action suggested on and @earthdaynetwork for global participants to drive change. Individuals are also invited to write to elected leaders and pledge to vote for the environment, and to join and host teach-ins to spread information about the environmental emergency. A citizens’ science project, Earth Challenge 2020, allows participants to gather data on local environmental conditions on their smartphones.

Meanwhile, over 100 speakers from five continents will provide a week of online talks from 20-25 April, hosted by the Earth Day Network’s partner We Don’t Have Time.

Faith for the Climate’s partner and stakeholder, GreenFaith, will be participating in an online multi-faith Earth Day Service, hosted by Washington National Cathedral and Interfaith Light & Power on Sunday 19 April at 7-8pm BST (2-3pm EDT). Also participating in the service are the Bhumi Project, our network member, and EcoSikh (the global movement that includes network member EcoSikh UK).

In the UK, The Climate Coalition is urging locked-down members of the public to display their commitment to the Earth on 22 April with green hearts in their windows, as used in the February Show the Love Campaign. Other local organisations will be hosting events online. Footsteps (Faiths for a Low Carbon Future) in Birmingham, one of our network partners, is offering a free Zoom conference, Our Cities & Climate, around themes of Strengthening our Spirit and Cities Taking the Lead. Participants can register online to join the rolling two-hour programme at 10am, 2pm or 7pm to tap into faith and creative contributions, and debates on how cities can tackle challenges such as climate change and COVID-19.

Footsteps draws strength from a recent statement from Birmingham Faith Leaders’ group on the pandemic:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who suffer through the impact of the Coronavirus… and our responsibility towards the vulnerable in society… Above all, we call on all people, during these difficult times, to live as people of hope; that the threat we all face can be overcome, and that we will emerge stronger, more resilient and wiser from the experience.”

With Ramadan expected to start on 24 April, our partner The Bahu Trust is holding a free Green Ramadan webinar from 2-3pm on Earth Day. The event will explore how to prepare for Ramadan in the face of the pressing emergencies facing us, and how the holy month can help us build a sustainable future, with a focus on Islamic environmental stewardship. The inspirational line up will feature Sarah Joseph OBE, editor of emel magazine; Hafiz Dr Ather Hussain, Imam and Researcher from Leicester; Safiyah/Alessandra Palange from @XRmuslims; and Kamran Shezad of The Bahu Trust and FFTC.

We wish a happy Earth Day 2020 to all our network members, and pray that this year will see us all living as people of hope, to drive the changes we all need. Please let us know on Twitter or via email about your activities and we’ll do our best to promote them.