This is the first in a series of six articles  

COVID-19 update to Earth Day 2020: Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, Earth Day Network announces a shift to global digital mobilization for Earth Day 2020. Although some individuals and communities may decide to hold in-person events, Earth Day Network urges everyone to follow recommendations from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local authorities from your city and country. 

Earth Day Network will provide live coverage of the global digital mobilizations from its social media accounts (@earthdaynetwork). Plans are underway to develop a global event across digital platforms to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22. Other digital events will include virtual protests, social media campaigns, and online teach-ins.

A full scope of digital actions will be available at


April 22 will mark 50 years since the day that 10 percent of the U.S. population took to the streets to protest environmental degradation, thus launching Earth Day, and with it, the modern environmental movement. Earth Day Network is trying to duplicate that groundbreaking moment on Earth Day 2020 with EARTHRISE, a global call to action that they hope will mobilize a billion people on and around April 22.

“At the first Earth Day, there was a big focus on local pollution problems. The call to action at that time was to bring into force regulations to control pollution. Now, 50 years later, we have a similar crisis. But this time it’s global in scale — the climate crisis,” said Will Callaway, national campaign director for the Earth Day Network.

“EARTHRISE is a global call to demand action by our leaders to address not only greenhouse gases but societal changes that contribute to climate change,” said Callaway.

EARTHWISE for Earth Day

Peaceful Protest

EARTHRISE is rooted in the environmental movement’s history of using peaceful protest to successfully stimulate political action. But they are abandoning the old technique of focusing on one large event, like a march on Washington. Instead, this campaign aims to coordinate protests around the world. Earth Day Network has reached out to climate groups, forming hundreds of partnerships around the world to encourage individuals and groups to join in nonpartisan civic actions on Earth Day.

“If everyone acts on that day, our cumulative voices will be greater than the sum of the parts,” said Callaway.

But if you can’t strike on April 22, the window for action is actually a bit wider than one day. EARTHRISE is planned as three full days of action.

April 22: Strike

Thousands of general climate strikes are scheduled all around the world on Wednesday, the 50th Earth Day. The Earth Day Network particularly welcomes indigenous people and people of color, who are disproportionately impacted by climate change, to join in and make their voices heard.

April 23: Divest

Thursday’s actions focus on financing a greener world. Students are mobilizing to demand their colleges and universities divest from fossil fuels. Adults are targeting their financial institutions with the same basic demand — quit profiting off the destruction of the planet.

April 24: Vote

On Friday, public protests continue, often organized through the youth-led Fridays for Future. Activists will contact their elected officials directly to demand that they take positive action against climate change. There is also an emphasis on voter registration. EARTHRISE encourages all eligible citizens to register and commit to voting. It’s especially important in the current presidential election, but also for all elections in which you can have a voice.

“We need an informed, engaged, and excited electorate who want the U.S. to take a leadership role against climate change,” said Kathleen Rogers, Earth Day Network President. Individuals can search the Network’s interactive map of events to find one at a time and place they can participate.

Climate change march in Germany
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Organizing an Action

If you search the map, you can even find a few events scheduled beyond the official timeline. Lunchtime protests are planned in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, on Tuesday, April 21, and in Far North Russia on Saturday, April 25.

Why schedule some actions outside the campaign dates? Because thousands of environmentalists, working with hundreds of Earth Day Network partner organizations, are planning these events under the EARTHRISE umbrella. You, too, can be one of those partners. If you are organizing an Earth Day strike or protest, you can register the event with Earth Day Network to have it show up on the map. (Do so as soon as possible so that more people can discover it in time to participate!)

“We’re trying to populate the map with every event taking place in April,” said Callaway.

In addition to promoting their event via the map, event organizers can download a digital toolkit with graphics and messaging for use on social media.

Start Somewhere

You might be a seasoned activist, well-versed in the practices of peaceful protest and mobilization. Or you might simply be a parent tired of living in a country that prioritizes dirty fuel industries over the health of children with asthma. Either way, Earth Day 2020 is a chance to speak up and make your leaders listen.

And even if you aren’t quite ready to take to the streets, you can make Earth Day meaningful.

“Earth Day is an excellent opportunity to educate yourself and learn how to make your life and your family’s life more sustainable,” said Callaway.

Read part two of this six-part series: The Great Global Cleanup — Earth Day 2020.

By Gemma Alexander

Gemma Alexander has an M.S. in urban horticulture and a backyard filled with native plants. After working in a genetics laboratory and at a landfill, she now writes about the environment, the arts and family. See more of her writing here.