Landmarks across world go dark to mark annual Earth Hour

In Berlin (left), a World Wide Fund for Nature activist in a panda suit marked Earth Hour on Saturday by symbolically throwing a giant switch to turn off the lights of Germany's Brandenburg Gate before cheering after the job was done. In Singapore (r
In Berlin (left), a World Wide Fund for Nature activist in a panda suit marked Earth Hour on Saturday by symbolically throwing a giant switch to turn off the lights of Germany's Brandenburg Gate before cheering after the job was done. In Singapore (right), Marina Bay Sands went dark the same day as the lights were switched off. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BUENOS AIRES • From Singapore to Buenos Aires, cities around the world turned off their lights to mark Earth Hour on Saturday, with this year's event highlighting the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like Covid-19.

After starting in Asia, the call to action on climate change made its way around a planet reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

As the day came to an end, it was the turn of the Americas, where the lights dimmed at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Tomorrow and the BBVA tower in Mexico City.

In London, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye ferris wheel, Shard skyscraper and neon signs of Piccadilly Circus were among the landmarks flicking the switches.

"It's fantastic news that Parliament once again is taking part in Earth Hour, joining landmarks across the country and the world to raise awareness of climate change," said Mr Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons.

In Paris, the three stages of the Eiffel Tower progressively went dark, but there were few people to watch, with the whole country under a 7pm Covid-19 curfew.

The giant metal tower has been shut to the public since Oct 30 last year, due to the pandemic.

In Rome, the lights went out at the 2,000-year-old Colosseum, while the police enforcing Italy's coronavirus restrictions checked the papers of a small crowd of onlookers.

The Asia-Pacific kicked off the event after night fell there, with the skylines of metropolises from Singapore to Hong Kong going dark, as well as landmarks including the Sydney Opera House.

In Singapore, people at the waterfront watched as skyscrapers went dark and tree sculptures at Gardens by the Bay had their lights turned off.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted a video on his Facebook page and wrote: "Wherever you may be, join me in turning off your lights for an hour at 8.30pm tonight. It is a small symbolic gesture in support of Earth Hour, which will raise awareness and rally support for building a more sustainable planet."

As the event criss-crossed time zones and continents, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and Moscow's Kremlin also joined the annual initiative.

This year, organisers said they wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of the natural world and the increasing incidence of diseases, such as Covid-19, making the leap from animals to humans.

Experts believe human activity, such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animals' habitats and climate change, is spurring this increase, and warn that more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2021, with the headline 'Landmarks across world go dark to mark annual Earth Hour'. Subscribe