Monday, March 29, 2010

China Participates in Earth Hour

On Saturday March 22, China celebrated Earth Hour along with the rest of the world. Although China is amongst the world's worst emitters of CO2, in cities throughout the nation, people and businesses showed their support for Earth Hour by turning out the lights.

Last year approximately 20 Chinese cities participated in Earth Hour. This year there were 33 Chinese cities (representing a 65 percent increase), as well as many more businesses. In Shanghai alone, about 200 companies, 122 schools, 350 communities, 20 universities and more than 100 commercial buildings joined the event.

The three tallest landmarks in Shanghai, the Shanghai World Financial Center, Jinmao Tower and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, went dark for an hour. So did City Hall, the Bund, Xintiandi and many other iconic structures in the city's downtown area.

As Earth Hour drew near, people gathered in the Chinese capital to watch darkness fall on the Forbidden City, the Bird's Nest, Water Cube and the Yintai Center.

In Chengdu, Earth Hour Global Panda Ambassador, Mei Lan, turned off her lights along with many of the city's 13 million citizens.

In Nanjing, the country's first Earth Hour branded subway train offered low-carbon lifestyle tips to passengers. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum turned off their lights along with 400 other buildings in Nanjing.

In Xi'an, city icons went dark including the ancient Xi'an Bell Tower and Drum Tower as well as the old City Wall.

Although Earth Hour saved some electricity, the event is really about making a statement. On Saturday, one billion people around the world said in one voice that the time has come for the world to act on climate change.

The huge international success of Earth Hour is due to people like Li Wenzhu, a 22-year-old artist in Beijing. Like millions of others around the world, Li is putting digital technology to work for the environment. "I sent out a message proposing the event to 20 of my friends this morning. They were people of different ages, sexes and professions, who then forwarded the message to their friends so the information would reach the most people possible," Li told China Daily on Saturday.

She then said, with a broad smile, "I just wanted to offer what I can to our little Earth."

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