March 28, 2009 – Over one billion people worldwide participated in a unified effort to raise awareness about climate change and the coming U.N. climate talks. Advocates are hoping to show the difference we can make by working together, even if it is only for one hour.
Earth Hour was first held in Australia in 2007, but has since gained global recognition in the two short years since it’s founding. The organizers, WWF, estimate over 1 billion people and nearly 90 countries will join the cause in 2009.
“Now we’re no longer so alone with our dream. We’re sharing it with all these people switching off their lights,” says Kim Carstensen, head of a global climate initiative at WWF.
In Asia, lights at landmarks in China, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines were dimmed as people celebrated with candle-lit picnics and concerts. Other global landmarks that switched off their lights included the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Reserve Bank in Mumbai, the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Egypt’s Great Pyramids and the Acropolis in Athens.
World emissions have risen by about 70 percent since the 1970s.And although the United States has recently fallen second to China in total emissions, the U.S. per capita emissions still remains on top.
Lighting accounts for about 11 percent of a typical American home’s energy bills, while computers and electronics add another 9 percent.
Still, activists stress that efforts to reduce green house gas most involve all countries if it is to be effective. Earth Hour organizers hope the global event will draw attention to the U.N. climate talks between March 29 and April 8 and the U.N. Climate Change Conference in December 2009.
“We have been dreaming of a new climate deal for a long time,” Kim says, sipping drinks at a candle lit bar in Bonn, Germany.The city will host to the U.N. climate talks the following day.Though the U.N has held climate talks to create a global agenda to reduce climate change, the efforts have been belittled by the special interest of different countries.
Environmentalist around the world hope to set the example with Earth Hour, by showing that people are ready for a unified effort against the pollution of the climate.