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United States

Global spotlight on clean energy -- Earth Day special focus

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Wind power will be centre stage -- literally -- at the headline event of Earth Day 2000 in Washington DC. As many as 500 million people are expected to celebrate April 20, a day that marks international environmental action and education. That would be more than twice the participation of Earth Day a decade ago, in 1990. This year it is the 30th anniversary of the first Earth Day, in the United States in 1970, and the first of the millennium. The theme, Clean Energy Now!, is because of global warming.

Renewables, energy efficiency and the dangers of fossil fuels and nuclear power are key in Earth Day 2000 and there will also be attention-grabbing anti-nuclear events. It is the first time in its 30 year history that Earth Day has focused on a particular environmental issue. Much of the campaigning will be at a local level -- in schools, campuses, faith-based communities, businesses and government. The earth day movement is also concentrating on trying to get "clean energy" results in fast-growing economic regions of the world, namely the Third World.

Renewable energy and efficiency technology will be showcased at special events. The organisers of Earth Day 2000, Earth Day Network in Seattle, say they are working with more than 4000 organisations in 170 countries worldwide, from Burkina Faso, China and India to Denmark, Japan and the United States.

Honoured star

Much of the hoopla will inevitably be in the big cities, especially Washington, Los Angeles and London. In Washington, on the Mall, a flagship concert powered by wind and solar power will be hosted by teen idol and actor Leonardo diCaprio, one of the stars of the hit movie Titanic. "As far back as I can remember, environmental issues have always been of the utmost importance to me," said DiCaprio, when his involvement was announced. "I'm honoured to be a part of Earth Day 2000. It's a great way for all of us to focus the most important environmental issue for the new millennium -- global warming."

Also there will be actors Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Ted Danson, Mary Steenbergen. Singers and musicians will include James Taylor, Carole King, and Kenny Loggins, all whom have long been associated with green issues. Loggins' music has been a major part of the marketing campaign of the leading American seller of clean electricity, GreenMountain.com. Wind power is prominent in the company's premium products in California.

Along with the concert in Washington, Earth Day will put on an Earth Fair on the Mall -- hundreds of exhibits displaying elements of a sustainable society. Other events in the US include a major concert in Los Angeles, expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people. Wind and solar will be among the technologies featured in a Clean Energy Fair, with at least 100 exhibitors from around California. A concert in Boston, powered by renewable energy, is expected to draw 200,000. And in Iowa, one of the fastest-growing areas in the US wind industry, the governor has declared the year 2000 earth year. Some 900 towns are expected to have some sort of celebration on or around April 22. The flagship Earth Day event in the United Kingdom will be held in the Millennium Dome near London, it has just been announced.

"Earth Day 2000 will be a truly global event voicing a collective call for clean energy and a healthier environment," said Denis Hayes, organiser of the first Earth Day and chair of Earth Day Network.

Renewables agenda

The Earth Day 2000 network has issued a US clean energy agenda with a goal of increasing fourfold the amount of energy obtained from non-hydro renewables resources such as wind and the sun. By 2020, at least one-third of the nations' energy should come from renewables.

"If you think renewable energy technology is fringe science only tinkered with by eccentrics in geodesic domes, think again," says the campaign's US clean energy agenda. The campaign encourages people to buy green energy, if it is available in their community.

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