The world celebrated its first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Since that day, unfortunately, the world has been left alone with more extensive problems with each passing year. In the last fifty years, with the rapid increase in countries' economies and the human population globally, the whole world has begun to experience resource shortages. In addition to these, while the world is experiencing a serious pollution problem, some living things have become extinct. What makes this Earth Day different from other days is that the war between Russia and Ukraine forces the world to decide on the energy future with each passing day collectively. Decisions made today will shape the conditions under which Earth Day will occur in years to come.
For Earth Day, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the renewal of the planet and the peaceful coexistence with nature. In this year's message, the Secretary-General of the United Nations underlined that the planet has reached the tipping point and that people still continue to harm the planet recklessly. The world does not have much time left without considering the sustainability of the world's resources, respecting wildlife and nature, and using the air, seas, and soil as if they were garbage dumps. Guterres, who likens the collapse of ecosystems and food chains to suicide, said that it is impossible to win this war against nature and said that they must put this war to an end. He also said a climate plan is needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and sharper action is required in order to preserve biodiversity. Stating that the steps to be taken will both protect the planet and provide new job opportunities for millions of people, Guterres called for more work for the world. On the other hand, climate activists in Berlin, Warsaw, Brussels, and elsewhere organized various protests for Earth Day, expressing demands for Europe to stop Russian oil and natural gas imports and no longer use fossil fuels. While some climate activists targeted German embassies in protest, they criticized the German government's policy of not embargoing Russian oil and gas not to harm the country's economy. About fifty activists gathered at Germany's European Union Representation in Brussels, wrapping themselves in Ukrainian flags and lying on the floor with their blood-dyed clothes visible, trying to make their voices heard with the slogan "Be brave like Ukraine." Nastya Pavlenko, one of the Ukrainian activists, said that natural gas and oil imported from Russia financed not only the war in Ukraine but also the climate crisis. He also said that it should be known that the lives that will be destroyed due to climate change, the generations that will be extinct, and the lives of children dying in Ukraine cannot be compared with any money. In the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, a dozen activists protested on Earth Day with banners that read "Embargo now!" similar to protests in other parts of the world.
There is a fact that since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, European Union countries have spent more than 41.2 billion dollars on fossil fuel imports from Russia. These countries still import 40% of their natural gas from Russia. 27 member states of the European Union have agreed to ban coal imports from Russia as of August as part of large-scale investments targeting both Russian banks and business people. However, countries with high dependence on Russia in the energy sector, such as Germany and Italy, prefer to announce that they can stop importing natural gas from Russia in the next few years rather than make a definitive decision. Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, some large companies have voluntarily stayed away from Russian natural gas and oil to protect their reputation and avoid legal problems. On the other hand, European countries still have not reached a consensus on whether to impose an embargo on Russian fuels. Countries such as Germany and Hungary stated that they would experience economic difficulties if they imposed an embargo. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has an opposing view on the embargo, said,'' If Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have begun this crazy war''. He also added that any natural gas embargo to be implemented by the European Union countries would not end the war between Russia and Ukraine.
The effects of climate change and the war on the world are becoming more evident day by day, and it is necessary to work more collectively for a sustainable world. Earth Day is defined as a day of action for a livable world to change the behavior of more than one billion people each year and create policies and laws in a local, national, and global context. Although a single day carries symbolic value for a livable world, this day has great importance in 2022, which is still the scene of war in the 21st century. Although people prefer to celebrate this day in various ways by participating in walks, collecting garbage, or planting trees, the essential point is to protect nature and the world as much as possible by not doing the opposite the next day. The actual celebration will be living in a sustainable world where climate goals are met.