Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Support Earth Hour

At 8:30 pm on Saturday March 28, individual citizens, businesses and people from all corners of the world will turn off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour - and cast their vote for action on climate change. With the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights, Earth Hour is a global call to action for every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet, Earth Hour is about taking simple steps everyday that collectively reduce carbon emissions – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 as a one-city environmental campaign, in 2008, The Green Market joined individuals and community groups in 371 cities across 35 countries in a united call for action on climate change. This year the number of cities and towns signing up to switch off their lights has already exceeded the ambitious target of 1,000 set by Earth Hour organizers. 2,712 cities, towns and municipalities in 83 countries have already committed to VOTE EARTH for Earth Hour 2009.

Earth Hour is being hailed as the biggest ever global movement. The historic event will see millions of people gathered in parks, streets, town squares and homes around the world to witness the lights going out on iconic landmarks and city skylines, while taking in the atmosphere of some truly unique Earth Hour events. All around the world, arrangements are underway for a host of concerts and parties.

The list of cities confirming their participation in Earth Hour 2009 includes 37 national capitals and some of the great cities of the world, including London, Beijing, Rome, Moscow, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Athens, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Sydney, Mexico City, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Manila, Las Vegas, Brussels, Cape Town and Helsinki. Along with the great metropolises of the world, Earth Hour 2009 will also see the lights go out on some of the most recognized landmarks on the planet, including Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Great Pyramids of Giza, Table Mountain in Cape Town, Merlion in Singapore, Sydney Opera House, CN Tower in Toronto, Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the world's tallest constructed building Taipei 101.

Earth Hour Executive Director, Andy Ridley, says “Earth Hour is an opportunity for the global community to speak in one voice on the issue of climate change, while at the same time coming together in celebration of the one thing every single person on the planet has in common – the planet,” he said. “Whether it’s joining your community in a town square to watch the city lights go dark or hosting a lights out party in your own home, I encourage everybody across the world to be a part of this historic occasion. Turn off your lights, celebrate the planet, enjoy the moment and cast your vote for Earth,” said Mr Ridley.

This is a critical year for action on climate change, with the world's leaders due to meet at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December to sign a new deal to supersede the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Ridley, said that Earth Hour signals the beginning of the journey to Copenhagen, where the future of the planet rests with world leaders. “People will be telling their representatives to seal a deal in Copenhagen. A deal at the climate change talks that will protect people and the planet. We need an ambitious agreement. An agreement that is fair and effective. An agreement based on sound science.” One billion people voting with their light switch during Earth Hour will create a powerful mandate for our leaders to take strong and decisive action on climate change in Copenhagen.

Earth Hour is bringing together the diverse peoples from all walks of life in a global call for serious and sustained action on climate change. The Scouts, the world's largest youth movement with more than 28 million members in 160 countries, lead thousands of community groups around the world mobilizing their supporters for Earth Hour. In the US the National Education Association, representing 3.2 million teachers and education professionals, has also pledged its support for Earth Hour, as has the 1.4 million-strong American Federation of Teachers. Other community groups involved include the Church of Sweden.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged citizens around the world to join WWF's Earth Hour to demand action on climate change. In a video-taped address, the Secretary-General said that Earth Hour promises to be “the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted...Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message. They want action on climate change.” said Secretary-General Ban. Secretary-General Ban went on to underline the seriousness of climate change and the scale of the task ahead. “We are on a dangerous path. Our planet is warming. We must change our ways,” he said. “We need green growth that benefits all communities. We need sustainable energy for a more climate-friendly, prosperous world. This is the path of the future. We must walk it together.”

Ban said that the United Nations would be doing its bit for Earth Hour. “In New York, we will switch out the lights at UN Headquarters. Other UN facilities around the world will also take part.” And he concluded: “I urge citizens everywhere to join us. Please send a strong message on climate change. Together we can find a solution to this most serious of global challenges.”

The Earth Hour campaign has a strong online presence: every seven seconds a new mention about Earth Hour appears on the web; Earth Hour social profiles have over 230,000 friends and followers with a new connection every 20 seconds; and an Earth Hour video is viewed every 20 seconds online."The global online community can be the catalyst to Earth Hour 2009 reaching one billion people and delivering on its goal of compelling world leaders to really tackle climate change," Mr Ridley said

The support of the business community has also extended Earth Hour's reach contributing to the greatest voluntary action the world has ever witnessed. As the campaign continues to gather pace, some of the world’s best known brands are leading the call for action from the business community. “The business community has an incredible ability and responsibility to engage employees, customers and suppliers to create a sustainable future for our planet,” Mr Ridley said.

HSBC is supporting Earth Hour by pledging to turn off lights in offices in 33 countries around the globe. Swedish furniture giant IKEA is running Earth Hour awareness campaigns in its stores, not only in its home country but as far away as China. Global leader in commercial real estate services, CB Richard Ellis, is encouraging lights-out participation in the more than 2.0 billion square feet of buildings it manages in more than 50 countries. Leading professional services firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, is providing consultants across Asia Pacific and other territories. Boutique companies are getting involved in creative ways, such as luxury travel business Abercrombie & Kent, which will be ensuring Earth Hour is celebrated in some of the most remote parts of Africa, including on wildlife reserves and on the Nile.

Turning your lights off for an hour is a great start, show your support by registering here. However, there are many other things you can do to make Earth Hour 2009 a success. Share Earth Hour with everybody you know, encourage them to sign up and email them a link to this website. Explain how climate change is affecting your family, your community or your business. Share your story about how you're becoming part of the solution. Run your own Earth Hour, download the quick guide for how to run Earth Hour in your city or town.

Earth Hour is also urging bloggers, podcasters, online video makers, mobile users and online social networkers to spread the word. Download the Blogger Tool Kit: Create a blog post about the importance of global action on climate change and how participation in Earth Hour can make a difference. Write a live blog post during the event tag it earthhour or voteearth. Visit http://12seconds.tv/earthhour to record a video for The Earth Hour Challenge or make a video of your event and add it to our YouTube group. Take a photo on the night and add it to Earth Hour’s flickr group.

Social media has proved it can be a powerful force for driving change, almost a month ago organizers began calling on the social media community to help this year’s Earth Hour campaign to reach out to one billion people around the world. People are joining social media profiles, (Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, flickr and Twitter). Update your Twitter status on the night and tag it #earthhour or #voteearth.

Get latest news, sign up your support and spread the Vote Earth message from your mobile. Simply use your phone to log on http://m.earthhour.org/. On your PC, download the files and install the launcher using your BlackBerry Desktop Manager. For BlackBerry support, please click here. Tell the world: Signup to GiverSign and make your e-mails, blog posts, Facebook feeds and MySpace pages advocate the Earth Hour message. Let everyone know that you signed up to participate and that they should as well!

To find out more about Earth Hour, visit the official website. To view the Earth Hour Global Schedule click here. Click here for a list of downloads including information and extensive support materials for businesses.

Earth hour is an opportunity to share support for the environment by being part of a global call for serious and sustained action on climate change. WWF Director General, Mr James Leape, said he is optimistic about the campaign's potential to drive key decision making by sending an unprecedented global mandate for action on climate change. With the combined support of businesses, cities and community groups one billion people are expected to participate making Earth Hour 2009 one of the greatest community events the world has ever witnessed. Be a part of history, be part of Earth Hour 2009.

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