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10th annual Earth Hour celebrated

20 March, 2016

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SYDNEY Cities on Australia’s east coast were among the first in the world to turn lights out on Saturday for the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global lights out event designed to highlight the threat from climate change.

The Sydney Opera House, normally brightly lit, switched off its lights at 8:30 pm along with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and dozens more buildings across the city and Australia. More than 350 landmark buildings across the world including the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and Taipei 101 followed suit. This year’s theme is a celebration of ‘Places We Love’, such as beaches, forests, reefs, snow-capped mountains and rivers which could be at risk from climate change. Organisers hope this year’s Earth Hour can tap a ‘new momentum’ in climate action following world leaders’ Paris agreement in December. That agreement set a course for global carbon emissions reduction to a net zero by 2100, shifting from fossil fuels in favor of greener energies such as solar and wind power.

Average global temperatures last month were 1.35 degree Celsius (2.4 Fahrenheit) above normal for February, the biggest temperature excess recorded for any month against a baseline of 1951-80, according to NASA data released last weekend.

Earth Hour Global executive director Siddarth Das, said in a statement that the world is at a ‘climate crossroads’.

“From living rooms to classrooms and conference rooms, people are demanding climate action,” he said.

“Earth Hour reminds us that while people are on the frontline of climate change, they are also our first line of defense. Our actions today, as individuals and the global community, have the power to transform what the world will look like for generations to come.”

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 as an initiative of conservation group WWF and went global in 2008, attracting 50 million people, organisers say.

This year organisers say events will be held in 178 countries and territories.

In Seoul, the glass-covered City Hall was among several public buildings where officials switched off the lights inside and out. Lights illuminating landmarks such as the massive COEX shopping mall, the city’s main railway station and several bridges on the Han River were all either turned off or dimmed. In Beijing, Chinese actress Li Bingbing showed up at the iconic Temple of Confucius, which was shut dark for an hour while municipal government officials announced that the city’s energy conservation slogan would be ‘Consume less, consume wisely’.

Philippine officials in metropolitan Manila led hundreds of environmental activists, students and movie and TV celebrities in switching off lights at the Quezon Memorial Circle in suburban Quezon city. Amid the darkness, some participants pedaled bamboo bikes attached to small energy generators to power LED lights and illuminate a giant Philippine map to symbolize the country’s yearning to shift to renewable energy sources, organizers said.

Other cities across Asia were also turning off the lights for the hourlong event, held at 8:30-9:30 pm local time. In Pakistan, the Earth Hour was observed across country to advocate for greater environmental action by switching off unnecessary lights from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm. Lights remained switched off at National Assembly of Pakistan, all provincial assemblies and other significant buildings across the country as part of a symbolic gesture to be part of a global moment of solidarity for climate action. Earth Hour is not about switching off lights for an hour, but it is a commitment to play a role in conservation of planet by conserving energy and combating climate change. Last year, more than 1.8 billion people in over 172 countries and territories and 7,000 cities worldwide celebrated Earth Hour. In Pakistan, more than 500 landmarks celebrated earth hour by switching off their lights. WWF-Pakistan celebrated Earth Hour across the country and organised main events at Lahore and Karachi. The events were attended by hundreds of people. On the occasion, Director General WWF-Pakistan said Pakistan is among the top 10 countries affected by climate change and this environmental challenge is already severely impacting our economy.

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