Tens of Millions Switch off Worldwide for 'Earth Hour': Organisers

Tens of millions of people switched off lightbulbs this weekend as part of a global campaign to throw the spotlight on climate change, organisers of the Australian-led 'Earth Hour' initiative said.

This combination of two images of the Sydney skyline were photographed at 8:20pm on March 28, 2008 (top) and during earth hour at 8:20pm on March 29, 2008. (AFP Photo)

From Sydney to Asia, Europe, Canada and the US, "many tens of millions" of people flicked the switch on Saturday night, plunging cities, towns and homes into darkness, chief of environmental group WWF-Australia Greg Bourne said.

The event, which was first held in Sydney last year, saw the lights dimmed in major cities at 8:00 pm local time, with skyscrapers, public monuments and private homes plunged into darkness.

Bourne said the response from around the world had been astounding.

While 26 cities are officially signed up for 'Earth Hour', Bourne said the campaign had already stretched well beyond that and that the intention was for the voluntary, 60-minute blackout to be even bigger in 2009.

Earth Hour organisers asked governments, businesses and individuals to switch off the power for one hour on Saturday to save energy and thereby produce fewer greenhouse gases.

Bourne said the campaign was less about making a real reduction in energy usage, and more about increasing public awareness about energy efficiency.

Energy Australia, which supplies much of Sydney's electricity, said a drop of about 8.4 percent in energy usage had been recorded in the city during the hour, equivalent to 1.6 million light bulbs being switched off.

A national poll of some 3,400 people taken on Saturday and Sunday indicated that 58 percent of people living in major Australian cities had participated in the event by switching off lights or other appliances.

Meanwhile power consumption in Christchurch, the only New Zealand city participating in the global event, plummeted nearly 13 percent during the voluntary switch-off, figures released Sunday showed.

In Ireland, the initiative was led in the capital by the Dublin City Council, which turned off all non-street lighting on 13 of the 14 bridges in the city. It also turned off all the lights in City Hall and civic buildings.

Cities involved in 'Earth Hour' include Aalborg, Aarhus, Adelaide, Atlanta, Bangkok, Brisbane, Canberra, Chicago, Christchurch, Copenhagen, Darwin, Dublin, Hobart, Manila, Melbourne, Montreal, Odense, Ottawa, Perth, Phoenix, San Francisco, Suva, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Vancouver.

Source: AFP

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