Lights out as Earth Hour heads for record year
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Lights being turned off in homes, businesses and public buildings across the emirates and throughout the world at 8:30 PM local time marked the commencement of Earth Hour 2011, with widespread endorsement of the message that the world and its environment need commitments for action going “beyond the hour”.
By the end of the event, hundreds of millions of people in thousands of cities, towns and communities in a record 134 countries on all continents are expected to have participated. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all to “use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light”.
The symbolic action of turning lights out for an hour in an expression of concern for the environment is in the process of being officially observed in thousands of communities across 134 countries and territories on all continents.
“The real levels of participation are always higher than the official list of participants,” Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley said from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge soon after the lights faded in the city where Earth Hour was born.
“We always find out after the event that Earth Hour has been observed in countries that have never contacted us, cities we would never have expected and places we haven’t heard of.
“We treasure this - it is symbolic of the growing recognition that we all need to act to restore the harmony between humanity and its environment and we all can act,” continued Ridley.
In the UAE, landmark after landmark switched off the lights and residential areas plunged into darkness for Earth Hour. Public gatherings took place in all the emirates, some with live entertainment, such as Dubai Drums on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, fire-dancers at Dubai Festival City and a traditional music band in Fujairah, but the theme was the same, people were gathered to celebrate action for the planet.
Ida Tillisch, Acting Director General of EWS-WWF said, “We have now seen what can be done, when we all agree to take action. Moving forward it is important that we keep our commitments and pledges to go beyond the hour and stay alert and open minded to solutions to further reduce carbon emissions. Earth Hour provided an opportunity to demonstrate UAE’s commitment to tackling climate change,” concluded Tillisch.
Beyond the hour activities for Earth Hour have been comprehensively embraced across the emirates with businesses and organisations committing themselves to environmental action, including switching to energy efficient light bulbs, introducing carpooling and reducing corporate air travel.
Sympathy for Japan disaster
The Abu Dhabi Earth Hour celebration, along with many others, commenced with a minute’s silence for the victims of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan earlier this month. Earth Hour events in some countries included fund raising to assist earthquake and tsunami victims.
In Japan itself, a small Earth Hour team demonstrated the resilience and resourcefulness shown by the country since the dual disaster by putting their emphasis on promoting 20 ways for Japanese people and businesses to save energy as a practical way to provide assistance to devastated areas.
“We have had to cancel many of our planned events for Earth Hour,” said WWF-Japan CEO Takamasa Higuchi. What we would like to say is how grateful we are for the many gestures of help offered to our nation in this time of great tragedy.”
About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF. Individuals, businesses, governments and communities were invited to turn out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 26, 2011 at 8:30 PM to show their support for environmentally sustainable action. The event began in Sydney in 2007, through a partnership between WWF Australia, Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, when 2 million people in one city switched off their lights. By 2010, Earth Hour had created history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed with participation across 128 countries and territories and every continent, including the world’s most recognized man-made marvels and natural wonders in a landmark environmental action.
Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF)
Emirates Wildlife Society is a national (UAE) environmental non-governmental organization. EWS is established under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western region and Chairman of Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD). EWS works in association with WWF, one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. EWS-WWF has been active in the UAE since 2001 and has initiated and implemented several conservation and education projects in the region. The mission of EWS-WWF is to conserve the natural heritage of the UAE and to promote sustainable lifestyles.
For more information please visit www.ewswwf.ae