In a message to the world on the eve of the seventh Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set the agenda for this year’s hour of inspiration.
“We participate with an undimmed determination to take action on climate change,” he said. “Everyone has a role to play. Governments need to provide the political will, businesses can contribute solutions, and civil society, especially young people, can mobilise global action. Together, let’s do our part and shed light on common sense answers for a cleaner, greener world.”
With the impact of climate change and environmental damage being palpably felt in people’s lives in cities and homes across the planet – from major flooding in Jakarta, fires in Australia, smog in China’s cities, to Hurricane Sandy in the USA – the recognition that increasingly extreme weather is harming families, communities and economies has brought the need for action to the forefront of the campaign.
Earth Hour, an initiative of WWF, will take place today 23 March at 8:30 p.m. across the world.
The movement will celebrate environmental outcomes generated by its participants in the last year, including the passing of legislation to protect Russia’s seas from oil pollution after a petition with more than 122,000 signatures was presented to Parliament during WWF-Russia’s ‘I Will If You Will’ campaign.
The Earth Hour Forest in Uganda was established as a first step to combat deforestation in the country, and the Earth Hour City Challenge is another beyond the hour initiative that recognises cities taking amazing steps towards a 100% renewable future.
But organisers are pushing for even more action beyond the hour.
“The Earth Hour community has become a powerful force for change, both on local and global scales. Earth Hour is no longer simply about the symbolic actions of an hour, but the cumulative actions of the global community generating real outcomes for the environment,” said Andy Ridley, CEO and Co-Founder of Earth Hour.
“But it’s also clear that the potential for hundreds of millions of people to take action beyond the hour is extraordinary – we are undoubtedly seeing this begin to happen in a big way,” he said.
WWF-Russia has just secured more than 100,000 signatures from Russian citizens for their Earth Hour2013 petition for amendments to the current forest legislation. The petition may be the catalyst to reinstate a ban on industrial logging in the country’s protective forests, which make up an area twice the size of France.
In Botswana, former President Festus Mogae has made a four-year commitment to plant one million indigenous trees as part of his ‘I Will If You Will’ challenge and kicked it off by planting 100,000 trees in a severely degraded area in the Southern part of the country called Goodhope.
In Argentina, Earth Hour organisers and WWF affiliate Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina are mobilising thousands of participants to help champion the passing of a Senate bill to make Banco Burwood the biggest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the country. If successful, the 3.4 million-hectare MPA will raise the level of protection of Argentina’s Exclusive Economic Zone from 1% to 4%.
The UN Headquarters in New York City will join more than 7,000 cities and towns in more than 150 countries and territories for Earth Hour 2013, with Palestine, Tunisia, Galapagos, Suriname, French Guyana, St. Helena and Rwanda among those joining the global movement for the first time.
Other landmarks going dark include: Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, The Petronas Towers, Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest), Marina Bay Sands Singapore, Gateway of India, The BurjKhalifa, The Church of the Nativity (Birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem), Table Mountain, Dubrovnik City Walls, Eiffel Tower, Avenue HabibBourguiba, The Acropolis, Tower of Pisa, The Spanish Steps, Brandenburg Gate, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The UK Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Christ the Redeemer Statue, CN Tower, Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, The Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and more.
For live updates on Earth Hour 2013 on Saturday 23 March, go to http://earthhour.org/live.