What is Earth Day about?
The idea to choose a specific day to honour the Earth together with the concept of peace was advanced for the first time at a UNESCO conference in 1969 by peace activist John McConnel. It was then officially sanctioned by a proclamation signed by the United Nations Secretary-General.
In 1970 the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, together with activist Denis Hayes, renamed the event “Earth Day” and decided for it to be on April 22. The first Earth Day remains the largest single-day protest in human history. While the first Earth Day had been focused on the United States, in 1990 Hayes, the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international and organized events in 141 nations.
The main goal of this day is to demonstrate support and commitment to the protection of the environment with a specific focus on climate action, pollution, science and education, people and communities, conservation and restoration.
This event is about reinforcing our harmony with nature by educating ourselves on how to live a better quality of life while minimizing the use of toxic materials and preserving natural resources. This year the theme will be Restore Our Earth featuring five primary programs:
– The Canopy Project
– Food and Environment
– Climate Literacy
– The Global Earth Challenge
– The Great Global Clean Up
During Earth week, many events will be taking place in different parts of the world, including group and individual clean-ups and ‘ploggings’ (litter-picking and jogging) in main urban cities such as London, Paris, Madrid and New York.
Other types of event will include a global youth climate summit led by Earth Uprising and the “We Shall Breathe” virtual summit which will examine climate and environmental justice, connecting the climate crisis to issues of pollution, poverty, police brutality and the pandemic. The Biden Administration has also decided to convene a global climate summit on Earth Day.
In November, the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will also take place in Glasgow to try to get leaders from all around the world to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It will also be a reflection on a possible green recovery from coronavirus, which will create sustainable jobs, address the urgent and linked challenges of public health. In the run up to COP26, Earth Day 2021 can be a great occasion to foster awareness, unity and dialogue regarding the climate emergency which will be tackled at the international meeting.
The Earth Day movement is also promoting a letter to be sent to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to demand compulsory, assessed climate education with a civic engagement component from world leaders at COP26.
BHESCo's 'Brighton & Hove Earth Day 2021'
For Earth Day 2021, BHESCo is bringing together experienced specialists to discuss ways to heat and power our lives that safeguard our planet, giving hope for our future.
We will address how technological innovation is empowering communities to adopt change, delivering clean, affordable, locally-owned energy for everyone. We believe that if the transition to net-zero emissions is to be successful it must be shaped by the communities that will be directly affected.
We are playing a major role in empowering them to do just that. Over the course of our panel we will explore the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, with a particular focus on what community leaders can do at the local level to accelerate the energy transition.
Our panel discussion will be chaired by Filmmaker/Producer for Flicks Flicks, Video Content Provider for Picturehouse and Head of Green Steering Group, Picturehouse.
Our Earth Day panel of experts:
Lynne McDonald is a graduate in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde. In October 2011, she was appointed to the leading role of Low Carbon Project Manager within UK Power Networks. This position sees her undertaking the role of Technical Communications Workstream Manager for the £10m flagship project – Flexible Plug and Play (FPP) Low Carbon Networks.
She is an active London Young Professional member in the IET London Local Network through which she also wants to encourage UK’s youth to consider a STEM career. She is committed to supporting UK Power Networks’ strategic aspiration to be a low carbon leader and contribute to the achievement of national and international CO2 and Renewable Targets through her technical expertise and by demonstrating leadership in innovative technical and commercial projects. She has been named Engineer of the Year – Mechanical/Electrical in the Women in Construction Awards 2016.
Russell Smith is a chartered civil engineer, founder and Managing Director of RetrofitWorks, an organisation that supports an inclusive strategy to ensure businesses, individuals and community groups wishing to improve UK homes can have a meaningful impact, whatever their motive is reducing bills, making adaptations, improving comfort and health, or reducing impact on the planet.
He has run many large scale programmes such as the £4.5m Warmer Homes programme on behalf of the Mayor of London and is now involved in a 250 heat pump roll-out for OVO energy. In 2005 he founded Parity Projects, a member of RetrofitWorks and an award-winning Home Energy Masterplan service. The organisation works with local authorities and landlords to develop cost-effective retroﬁt programmes that meet their cost, comfort and carbon goals.
Russell is also a commissioner of the Croydon Climate Crisis Commission, launched in March 2020 as part of the wider Place-Based Climate Action Network (PCAN).
Alastair Deighton is the director of the Rural, Energy & Projects Division in Petworth. He joined Savills, a global real estate services provider, in 2015 following the merger with Smiths Gore where he started his career in 2005 as a rural surveyor after graduating from the Royal Agricultural University. Savills provides consulting services and advice such as valuation, project management, building and environmental consultancy, strategic projects and research.
Currently, an estate manager of Firle Estate in East Sussex, Alastair’s skills include team and personnel development, rural estate and residential property management. His experience has comprised the full spectrum of rural estates, from providing consultancy on smaller estates to full management of large, complex institutional and private holdings.
Kayla Ente is the founder and chief executive of Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCo). Kayla is a qualified accountant with an MBA in Environmental Management from the TIAS Business School in the Netherlands.
She became a financial manager at Greenpeace International in 1993, where she understood that campaigning on its own does not work. In 1999, as a business and project development consultant, her client portfolio included Nuon, a Dutch utility, and Ecofys (European pioneers in renewable energy). She advised the IEA on the feasibility of a very large scale PV project in the Sahara Desert for DESERTEC.
In 2004, she moved to London, to start a consultancy service providing business development and advisory services to utilities and SME’s in the Cleantech industry. Kayla founded BHESCo to allow people to come together believing in their participation in a collective social movement taking real action to solve the climate crisis and to bring more care to our society.
Kayla is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturing, was recently profiled as a judge for the annual Sussex Life Awards and was also featured in Women In Leadership magazine.
We believe it is important to start tackling climate change from a local level with initiatives such as community energy groups. These are currently helping to decarbonise our energy system and meet increasing electricity demand while being more connected to clients.
Our event this year hopes to bring together leaders from villages and councils across Sussex in particular to discuss the best way to decarbonise rural villages. This is crucial because these areas usually rely on fossil fuels as a source of heat. The most effective solutions will typically involve a combination of technologies, such as heat networks, heat pumps, shared ground loops or solar power.
Details of our Earth Day Event
The free event will take place remotely on 22 April 2021 from 6pm to 7:30pm. To join just click on the button below and fill in the form with your details. In this way, we will be able to stay in touch and send you a Microsoft Teams link to join the event on the morning of 22 April 2021.
If you are curious and cannot wait or you just want to know more, check out this short documentary film we made or Earth Day 2020.