Earth Day 2021: Restoring the earth with passive cooling


The theme for this year’s Earth Day is ‘Restore our Earth’. Among other things, this means reversing the negative effects of climate change like global warming.

In a warming world, we cannot rely on energy-intensive cooling solutions to protect us. Planting trees has tremendous power to cool the planet and protect people from heat risks.

Elizabeth Wathuti is the founder of the Green Generation Initiative and an advocate for nature-based solutions to tackling the climate crisis. For Earth Day, we asked her about why planting trees is a sustainable, passive cooling solution that is essential to restoring our planet.

Why should we, and the youth, care about cooling? 

Climate change is turning our planet into an oven especially in cities. We should care about cooling because the rising use of air conditioning only worsens the problem. We need to turn to passive cooling techniques like trees that will keep our carbon footprint low.

E. Wathuti - Green Generation Initiative


Why are you interested in planting trees to cool the earth?

Trees are essential for life on earth and growing trees as a nature-based solution is half the fight for life. I have felt heartbroken by the deforestation that I have witnessed first hand, and I know from my own lived experience that protecting and restoring nature can awaken that deep bond and remind us of who we are. 

What is the scale of solutions – how many trees do we need?

The scale of solutions should be equivalent to the scale of the problem. Nations should plant and protect massive numbers of trees to achieve the UN required minimum of 10 percent forest cover. Tree planting should however not be a sole strategy. We have to also massively protect all remaining natural ecosystems.

What impacts have you seen in your community and impact on people?

Trees have continued to provide unquantifiable benefits in peoples’ lives, such as improving the climate and regulating river flows. Tree planting initiatives also create livelihoods and economic independence especially for rural communities that are implementing agroforestry to boost incomes and the forest cover.

Is it an affordable way to take action, and can anyone do it?

Growing trees is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to take action and anyone can do it. Every bare patch of land can be regenerated quickly and every person can participate. Let’s invest in nature-based solutions.

Follow Elizabeth Wathuti, @lizwathuti, on Twitter.


Want to learn more about the importance of passive cooling measures like planting trees or covering buildings with light-coloured paint? Here’s a great summary of their benefits. The Cool Coalition and SEforALL also held a recent webinar on passive cooling that you can watch here.

Passive cooling is an essential strategy for delivering sustainable cooling for all. How to protect billions of people from rising temperatures and develop cold chains that will preserve food and medicines is the focus of SEforALL’s Chilling Prospects research.

The Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All 2021 report will be launched 5 May, and anyone is welcome to attend the virtual launch event. Register now.

This Is Cool event

Banner and feature image credits: Dmitry Dreyer/Unsplash