'Earth Hour' evolves into springboard for wider action
PARIS (AFP) - From Sydney Harbour Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the Brandenburg Gate to the Burj Khalifa tower, the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal and Table Mountain, some of the world's greatest landmarks will briefly darken on Saturday night for Earth Hour, a campaign now becoming a broader vehicle for green activism.
Earth Hour originated in Sydney in 2007 with an appeal to people and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour to heighten awareness about climate change, driven by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. The annual switch-off is now being followed in locations in three-quarters of the world's nations and has the potential to touch hundreds of millions of lives, say its organisers.
Promoted through social media, Earth Hour has also mutated in some countries into a potent tool to lobby on local issues unconnected with global warming, they add.
Switch-off events this Saturday at the local time of 830pm are planned in more than 150 countries, including for the first time the Palestinian territories, Tunisia, Galapagos, Suriname, French Guiana, St Helena and Rwanda. Newcomers to the campaign include Copenhagen's Little Mermaid, the Statue of David in Florence and Cape Town's Table Mountain, which in 2011 joined a list of the "New Seven Wonders of Nature".