Sydney, Australia: As Earth Hour begins its monumental journey around the globe, hundreds of millions of people are uniting to demonstrate that we urgently need to take action to protect our planet.
Tonight, the largest voluntary action for the environment is reaching further than ever before. Earth Hour is being celebrated in a record 150 countries and territories and 6494 towns and cities to send the message that our combined efforts are needed to change our future to one that is sustainable.
Lights go out at 8.30pm local time as Earth Hour travels around the world, offering an hour of inspiration to create awareness and motivate ongoing action for the environment.
From the International Space Station to the Office of the UN Secretary General, to a passionate teenager who has organized Earth Hour in Libya for the first time, the global movement is inspiring individuals, organizations and governments to take action to address the important environmental challenges that effect us all.
“Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitment to sustainable energy for all,” UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said. “We need to fuel our future with clean, efficient and affordable energy. By acting together today, we can power a brighter tomorrow,” he said.
The small island nation of Samoa was the first to switch off the lights for Earth Hour. The Faleolo International Airport went dark as the community came together to launch a number of local green activities for the year ahead, illustrating their commitment towards a cleaner and safer future.
“Every power or light switch that you can turn off to save energy; every metre that you can walk instead of driving, every tree that you can plant, after today – will all add up to help heal the world,” said Penina Solomona at the event.
People in Fiji also switched off their lights where possible despite the devastating floods. The President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau who is the country’s leading Earth Hour Ambassador, issued a challenge to businesses, organisations and government departments to take clear-cut actions that will benefit our environment when Earth Hour launched on 15 February.
One of the world’s first major monuments to plunge into darkness was the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand. Night markets brought crowds of families to a major celebration in Tauranga and lights have been switched off along the length and breadth of the land of the long white cloud, as Kiwis get behind Earth Hour en masse.
Across the Tasman, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard pledged her support for Earth Hour and in Sydney – the city where Earth Hour began just 5 years ago – lights went out on global icons the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
“What began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – to switch off the lights for an hour – has become a global success,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a statement.
“We can all change the world we live in”
Australians have turned out in huge numbers to celebrate the 60-minute switch-off, picnicking under the stars and having candlelit dinners.
“We can all change the world we live in, whether that change be big or small. This year as the lights switch off, Earth Hour encourages you to commit to go beyond the hour and inspire your friends, colleagues, organization and leaders to do the same,” said Andy Ridley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Earth Hour.
The I Will If You Will platform hosted at www.youtube.com/earthhour which dares the world to save the planet, is seeing extraordinary traffic as people are becoming empowered to create challenges to inspire their own community to adopt sustainability practices in their daily lives.
“As the lights switch off around the world, we want everyone to remember that this hour of darkness is inspiration for what is to come – a commitment from all of us to make positive environmental changes in our lives. Start by making your own I Will If You Will challenge and encourage those around you to do the same,” said Ridley.
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