Published on April 1st, 2009 | by Stephanie Evans
Earth Hour: A Universal Commitment to Battle Against Climate Change
Is it possible that switching off your lights for one hour can help save the planet? An insignificant amount of time you say, but the impact that just one hour of energy savings has on the planet can be huge. We have already seen this with the success of Earth Hour. And it is growing. No longer is this sustainability event merely about switching your lights off. Instead, Earth Hour has become an opportunity for people all over the world to make a universal commitment to the battle against climate change.
Earth Hour began in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney, Australia, switched off their lights to conserve energy for one hour. By its second year, 2008, the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all participated in the event.
In 2009, Earth Hour was taken to the next level. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which runs the event, targeted 1 billion people to participate in their event, as part of a global vote. VOTE EARTH, the defining slogan for Earth Hour 2009, became a global call to action for every individual, business, and community to stand up and take control over the future of the planet.
So in its third year, Earth Hour convinced nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries across the globe’s various time zones, to dim their nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Initially, there was concern that focus on the global economic crisis would dilute enthusiasm for Earth Hour but apparently, it has had the opposite effect.
WWF managing director Darron Collins, who helped Chicago officials organize for Earth Hour 2009, said:
“No matter what your individual beliefs are about climate change, energy efficiency is something everyone can understand in this economic environment,”
Global participation in Earth Hour
Participation in Earth Hour has grown immensely over the course of the three years during which the event has taken place. China, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, took part for the first time in 2009, with major cities like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou also dimming their lights.
Here are some of the world’s better known landmarks that have participated in Earth Hour:
- The Great Pyramids in Egypt
- The Acropolis in Athens, Greece
- The Empire State Building in New York, USA
- The UN headquarters in New York, USA
- The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Wembley Stadium in London, UK
- The Bird’s Nest Stadium, the Water Cube, Ling Long Tower and Pangu Plaza in Beijing, China
- The Oriental Pearl Tower and the 492m high Shanghai World Financial Center, in Shanghai, China
- The Reserve Bank of India, the Air India buildings, and Indian Tourism Development Corporation’s flagship Ashok Hotel, in India
- The World Bank in Washington D.C.
- Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy
- The Big Ben in London, U.K.
How much energy is saved during Earth Hour?
The organizers of Earth Hour say that there is no quantifiable measure to know how much energy is actually saved as a result of the event. However, it is clear that there is indeed an abundant savings. PowerStream Inc., the second largest municipally-owned electricity distribution company in Ontario, reported a service territory-wide 10 per cent electricity reduction between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. during Earth Hour 2009. The reduction represented a savings of 88.3 megawatts in peak demand, or enough electricity to power 1,471 average-size homes over a 24-hour period.
“Earth Hour has always been a positive campaign; it’s always around street parties, not street protests, it’s the idea of hope, not despair. And I think that’s something that’s been incredibly important this year because there is so much despair around,”
said Andy Ridley, the Executive Director of Earth Hour. Ridley claims that his next task is to build on the amazing Earth Hour momentum by presenting VOTE EARTH counts to world leaders in Copenhagen summit next December.
This video provides a first-hand look at what Earth Hour is all about: