Building on the success of last September’s worldwide climate strikes, which saw 8 million people take to the streets to demand action, climate activists hoped to make a big splash this April for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But then came the coronavirus, which has put a dent into those plans (along with emissions).
The good thing about climate activists—if you haven’t noticed—is that they’re incredibly resilient, finding ways to continue spreading awareness and invoking action while staying at home. For instance, many climate activists see this moment as a way to educate more people about the climate crisis through targeted online campaigns, distributing educational material and encouraging virtual training and webinars. They also point out that this public health crisis should also be a further push for people to act quickly and urgently on the climate crisis because large-scale social and economic disruptions are likely to be increasingly frequent as the consequences of the climate crisis become more severe.
Climate action events aren’t stopping either, with digital events popping up left and right. Earth Day Network, along with climate initiative Exponential Roadmap and the social network We Don’t Have Time is hosting the third annual #WeDontHaveTime online climate conference during Earth Day Week, April 20–25, with more than 20 hours of live talks and events.
Meanwhile, the global organizer of Earth Day has called for the first Digital Earth Day, which includes virtual protests, social media campaigns, online teach-ins and more. A full scope of Earth Day’s digital actions will be available at earthday.org. Beyond moving strikes online, many organizations are seeing the forced downtime as an opportunity to get more people involved — and to regroup. Increased social isolation means they have the opportunity to strengthen and educate many of the new and existing members who were inspired by the protests last year.
For 350.org, an organization against fossil fuels that really took off last year, quarantine has been a moment to take a breather and strengthen the climate front online. “The fact that we’re all going to be sitting at home online actually means we could build more of a global community.”