UN chief urges those turning off lights to remember those who can’t

UN Headquarters, New York: As United Nations Headquarters in New York and other facilities around the globe switch off their lights for Earth Hour, they will be marking their solidarity with the 20 per cent of human kind who live without access to electricity.

“Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitment to sustainable energy for all,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “We need to fuel our future with clean, efficient and affordable energy. By acting together today, we can power a brighter tomorrow.”

Along with the UN, influential organizations such as UNESCO, the World Organization of the Scout Movement and the Vatican have all declared their support for Earth Hour, which takes place globally at 8:30 local time tomorrow, Saturday 31 March.

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Earth Hour, Andy Ridley said the world’s leading organisations are sending a clear signal that they are committed to doing more to protect the planet.

Mr Ridley said, “The collective impact of these organisations who are lending support to Earth Hour this year is immense. Imagine the possibilities when this impact is translated into action beyond the hour.”

Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova joined the UN Chief in supporting Earth Hour urging all 938 UNESCO Heritage sights across the globe to switch off.

Ms Bokova said, “This year, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, I appeal to all involved with World Heritage sites around the globe to join the Earth Hour initiative and switch off their lights in the evening of 31 March”.

She added, “With this simple gesture, iconic sites and local communities can show their leadership and commitment for a sustainable planet”.

From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the most visually captivating icons across the globe will go dark for Earth Hour 2012.

In 2007, WWF-Australia inspired Sydney-siders to show their support for climate change action in the first ever Earth Hour event.

Five years on Earth Hour has grown from a one-city initiative to a 5,251 city strong global movement, last year reaching 1.8 billion people in 135 countries across all seven continents.

A number of influential leaders have made “I Will If You Will” challenges for this year’s campaign, which encourages people to make a personal challenge in order to inspire friends, family, colleagues and organisations to take action to protect the planet.

Luc Panissod, Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), which boasts over 30 million members in 161 countries, has thrown his considerable support behind Earth Hour with an I Will If You Will pledge of his own.

Panissod has promised to give up his car for seven days, if 10 000 people don’t print their emails for a week.

He said. “We can all do a little something to create a larger world-wide change”.

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