Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Countries go dark to shine a light on climate change

AFP, SYDNEY

The Sydney Opera House is pictured before, top, and during, bottom, the annual Earth Hour yesterday in Sydney, Australia.

Photo: AFP

One minute brightly lit, the next plunged into darkness — iconic landmarks around the world prepared to cut their lights yesterday for the Earth Hour campaign against climate change.

Organizers expected hundreds of millions of people across the globe to turn off their lights for 60 minutes yesterday night — at 8:30pm — in a symbolic show of support for the planet.

Many of the world’s most iconic attractions, including the Sydney Opera House and Paris’ Eiffel Tower were to take part in the event.

“What started as an event in Sydney in 2007 with 2 million people has now become a tradition across the country and across the world,” WWF-Australia director Dermot O’Gorman said.

Last year, more than 150 countries participated in the event, which saw some of the world’s iconic landmarks dim, and this year the movement has spread to Palestine, Tunisia, Suriname and Rwanda.

Newcomers to be plunged into darkness include Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, Michelangelo’s David in Florence and Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

In Australia, where Earth Hour originated with an appeal to people and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour to raise awareness about carbon pollution, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge were among the first sites to go dark.

This year, Earth Hour Australia is asking participants to “switch off for good” and move to renewable energy. As part of the push, the Sydney Opera House did not go dark at 8:30pm, but instead glowed a deep green.

O’Gorman believes Earth Hour has played a part in drawing attention to energy use.

“Earth Hour has always been about empowering people to realize that everybody has the power to change the world in which they live, and thousands of people switching to renewable energy is a perfect example,” he said.

Australia was to be followed by countries across the globe, with the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the Bird’s Nest in Beijing and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa all participating.

In China, Shanghai’s famous Bund prepared to turn off its lights, while in the central city of Wuhan, the Yangtze River Bridge was to be plunged into darkness.

In Japan, daily illuminations of the city’s signature Tokyo Tower were to be switched off and visitors given the chance to pedal bicycles to generate power to illuminate an egg-shaped work of art.

In Singapore, the skyline was to darken for one hour from 8:30pm, with more than 100 buildings taking part, while Hong Kong’s famous skyline was also set to dim.

Landmarks outside of the Asia-Pacific region, such as Germany’s Brandenburg Gate, London’s Buckingham Palace, and the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls in New York were also set to turn their lights off.

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