Lights went out in cities across the world as Earth Hour 2009 began - a global movement to raise awareness about climate change. Buildings and houses turned down their lights for an hour.
Reuters - Lights went out at Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge on Saturday for Earth Hour 2009, a global event in which landmarks and homes go dark for an hour to highlight the threat from climate change.
In Asia, lights at landmarks in China, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines also dimmed as people celebrated with candle-lit picnics and concerts.
“It’s been a great success. I wasn’t expecting so many people to come down and witness the blackout of the CBD,” Carine Seror, Singapore Earth Hour campaign manager for global environment group WWF, told Reuters.
Buildings in Singapore’s business district went dark along with major landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer, or giant observation wheel.
Australia first held Earth Hour in 2007 and it went global in 2008, attracting the involvement of 50 million people, organisers say. WWF, which started the event, is hoping one billion people will take part this year.
“The primary reason we do it is because we want people to think, even if it is for an hour, what they can do to lower their carbon footprint, and ideally take that beyond the hour,” Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley told reporters at Sydney’s Bondi Beach.
Nearly 90 countries are taking part this year, some for the first time, including China, which has overtaken the United States as the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter.
Organisers said several new countries signed up in the hours before the event, which aims to encourage people to cut their energy use and curb greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.
In the Vatican, the dome of St Peter’s Basilica will go dark, as will Egypt’s Great Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and New York’s Empire State Building. Other global landmarks that will switch off the lights include the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the London Eye and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.
Organisers said the remote Chatham Islands was the first place where supporters turned the lights off for an hour at 8.30 p.m., followed by New Zealand and Fiji.
Lights at Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge were switched off at 8.30 p.m. (0930 GMT) to the sound of horns on the harbour, with supporters holding candle-lit dinners to watch the event.
“We are sitting here near the harbour. There are about 60 or 70 people here having a picnic,” an Earth Hour spokesman said.
In Melbourne, supporters organised a bicycle-powered concert.
Organisers are calling Earth Hour a ‘global election’, with switching off the lights a vote for the Earth and failure to do so a vote for global warming.
Nearly 20 Chinese cities were participating, involving hundreds of buildings including Olypmic venues the Bird’s Nest Stadium and Water Cube, the official Xinhua news agency said.
In the Thai capital, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva switched off the lights at Khao San Road, Bangkok’s bustling, “backpackers’ ghetto”. Lights were also due to go out at Bangkok landmarks such as the Grand Palace and Temple of the Dawn.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration expects electricity usage in the city of 8 million people to drop by 30 percent during the hour, or 1,384 megawatts.
In Manila, shopping malls, apartment towers and offices turned off their lights, joining cities and towns across the country, organisers said.
Lights will also be dimmed at landmarks in India, including the Reserve Bank in Mumbai and scores of other buildings in the city.
WWF says it will present the results at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen later this year, where governments will try to seal a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Date created : 2009-03-28