Earth Day 2020 was a historic one, not only because we were practicing safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but because this year marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
EarthX – a huge environmental event in Dallas – typically celebrates Earth Day with a weeklong roster of conferences, film screenings, panels, and a three-day public expo. In April 2019 alone, the conference convened more than 177,000 visitors, 2,000 environmental leaders and exhibitors, and 400 speakers. Bolstered by a partnership with National Geographic, the planned 2020 EarthX event promised to be the biggest one yet.
This year, the Consulate General in Dallas planned to launch a multi-faceted, interactive booth featuring Canadian innovation across multiple sectors, including virtual reality sessions showcasing eco-tourism destinations across Canada, while also raising awareness of shared challenges through interactive stations.
When EarthX moved to a digital platform, the Consulate in Dallas had to switch gears to include Canada’s perspective. Because our environment and energy systems are so interconnected here in North America, the Consulate wanted to be sure to highlight Canada’s leadership and commitment to environmental stewardship at this important forum.
On the April 22 livestreamed 50th Anniversary Earth Day celebration, Dallas Consul General Dr. Rachel McCormick delivered a brief reflection on the importance of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day and Canada’s commitment to climate action.
In the new virtual format, Mayor of Montreal Valérie Plante was able to participate in two panels. On April 23, she appeared at the EarthX-National Geographic Cities Conference along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Marina Robles, Mexico City Secretary of Environment for discussion focusing on resilience solution in North American megacities. The following day, Mayor Plante joined Ceres Vice President Anne Kelly and Rear Admiral Steven G. Smith, U.S. Navy (Retired), Director Office of Disaster Planning and Risk Management, U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss planning for natural disasters.
On April 24, British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering CEO Steve Oldham discussed direct air capture of CO2 for renewable transportation fuel as part of the EarthX Renewables Conference. Carbon Engineering is an industry leader in the commercialization of groundbreaking Direct Air Capture technology. The same day, Consul General McCormick livestreamed a presentation entitled “Canadian Climate Action and Innovation: Clean Energy, Carbon Capture and Economic Prosperity” as a companion piece to the Renewables Conference. CG McCormick outlined the pillars of Canada’s climate action plan including, pricing carbon pollution, complementary mitigation actions across all sectors, adaptation and climate resilience, as well as clean technology, innovation and jobs.
As is true with the test of climate change itself, times of great challenge can also bring opportunities for innovation. EarthX was able to reach new audiences through the Earthx2020 virtual experience with more than 550,000 people in over 60 countries tuning in to watch. We hope audiences across the globe learned a little more about Canada’s actions to address climate change and transition to a clean-growth, net-zero economy by 2050.