The world celebrates its first digital Earth Day

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road-landscape-people-street / Markus Spiske / pexels / CC 0

Lizbeth Ibarra, a youth climate activist, expresses her frustration with policymakers: "We won't stop until they divest, because we know how powerful our voices are. I want policymakers to stop passing policies that prevent us from having a livable and sustainable future."

April 22, 2020, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, was supposed to be the largest gathering of protestors chanting for climate justice in history. 

But due to the COVID-19 induced shelter-in-place, environmental and climate justice organizations have had to shift their plans from taking to the streets to something that encompasses social distancing. 

For instance, the organization Youth vs. Apocalypse (Y.v.A.) has a three-day, digital climate strike planned, starting April 22.

According to their website, Y.v.A. is “a diverse group of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular, youth of color, and fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world.”

The theme of the strike is that no one is disposable. Each day, they have a different set of targets and hashtags to accompany them. They plan to share these hashtags as widely as possible and encourage others to participate by sharing posts, including selfies, art, posters, or dances that follow the daily themes.

“It’s so important to participate in the movement and emphasize that #NoOneIsDisposable because it’s true […] I’m also hoping that this online movement can make everyone feel like their voice matters and that change will come from them speaking up,” said Lizbeth Ibarra, a youth climate activist.

On Wednesday, Y.v.A. plans to target the Trump administration, using the hashtags #ResistTrumpocalypse, and #PeoplesBailout. On Thursday, they will target financial institutions that profit from unsustainable practices or investments. For this day, they have a few hashtags: #DivestFromDestruction, #InvestInFrontlineCommunities, and #StopTheMoneyPipeline. Lastly, for Friday, the first day of Ramadan, they have reserved a day for solidarity with the hashtag #SolidarityForSurvival.

“Climate change is not just making sure you use a reusable water bottle; climate justice is looking at the root of climate change and seeing who’s affected the most. It’s fighting against systems that are put in place that allow corporations to put refineries in low-income communities, primarily communities of color. It’s fighting for those who are most vulnerable and who are stuck in an unjust system,” Ibarra said.

The strike aims to connect people, to demand a just transition from fossil fuels, and a Green New Deal.

“#NoOneIsDisposable is ultimately about not throwing anyone away and uniting everyone across all different lives and divisions,” said Coco Peila, a senior organizer and climate justice coordinator at Y.v.A.

In addition to the digital strike, there will also be a three-day livestream in honor of Earth Day, Earth Day Live, which invites people to join activists, artists, and performers to an empowering live stream mobilization. The livestream will feature Al Gore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lil Dicky, and many more. The aim of Earth Day Live is to “drive donations to benefit the COVID-19 relief effort, call on world leaders to take emergency action to build a more sustainable and just world, and inspire millions to pledge to vote for our future.”

“Climate justice is essential, just as our earth and our people. These systems of injustice are unsustainable. We can no longer live like this,” said Carrie Ramirez, lead circle member at Y.v.A.

Many other environmental justice organizations have planned activities and digital events for Earth Day, but they all share something in common: all are demanding systemic change for a sustainable future.

“Young people are what policymakers fear the most. We need to push against policies that allow wealthy people to put our futures up for profit,” said Ibarra.


earth Day by Katerina Gaines