AsianScientist (Mar. 19, 2016) – World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)’s Earth Hour will roll across the globe today, Saturday, March 19 2016 at 8:30 p.m. local time, uniting individuals, communities and organizations in an unprecedented 178 countries and territories. Earth Hour is a global moment of solidarity for climate action, and comes only months after governments agreed a new global climate deal.
As all non-essential lights in homes, offices and landmarks are turned off, the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment will bring together millions of people to shine a light on climate action and the role people can play in global efforts to change climate change.
Tonight, more than 350 of the world’s most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Taipei 101 and the Sydney Opera House will switch off their lights. Individuals will also lend their voice to the planet through Earth Hour’s ongoing social media campaign.
To date in 2016, Earth Hour has powered more than 530,000 individual actions taken to help change climate change. Whether it is rallying individuals to participate in reforestation efforts in Indonesia or promoting a switch to renewables in India, WWF and Earth Hour teams across six continents are mobilizing public action on climate change in the lead-up to the hour and throughout the year.
Siddarth Das, executive director of Earth Hour Global, tells Asian Scientist Magazine about the history of Earth Hour; the impact the team hopes to achieve; and how to do your bit for the Earth.
- How and where did Earth Hour start?
WWF’s Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 as an idea to unite Sydney-siders to deliver a firm message that climate change was an issue they cared about. Today, the movement has grown to 178 countries and territories evolving into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment and becoming the force behind tangible environmental outcomes led by WWF teams around the world.
In Asia, these include providing solar power to off-grid communities in India and the Philippines and giving out fuel-efficient stoves in Nepal.
- In the aftermath of the Paris climate talks, will there be anything different or special about Earth Hour 2016?
2015 was the year 195 countries came together to work against climate change at the historic summit in Paris. It was also the hottest year on record. With the world at a climate crossroads, Earth Hour 2016 is our time to shine a light on climate action and build the foundation for a better future for our planet and future generations.
For the first time ever, supporters can take a stand and show their commitment to the cause of climate action in the digital space. By using their Facebook timeline to raise awareness, supporters are being invited to ‘Donate Your Social Power’ in just a few clicks.
As such, while homes, cities and landmarks switch off for the hour, creating the powerful visual impact of previous years, the virtual world will also see its own equivalent of Earth Hour uniting people behind computers, mobile phones and tablets, regardless of where they may be, around the common cause of climate action.
In addition, the WWF team in India is also using Earth Hour to bridge the gap between policy and grassroots. They are seeking to replicate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious International Alliance for Solar Power at the grassroots and make renewable energy a reality for homes and offices.
- What is the message that you hope to impart with Earth Hour?
Earth Hour reminds us that while people are on the front lines of climate change, they are also our first line of defence. Our actions today, as individuals and the global community, have the power to transform what the world will look like for generations to come—this is our time to change climate change, and it starts with each of us.
This year for Earth Hour 2016, WWF teams in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have joined forces to shine a light on protecting peatland forests, the burning of which not only contributes to region’s recurring haze crisis but also the release of massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
Running a three-pronged approach, the teams will work simultaneously with policymakers in Indonesia, businesses headquartered in Singapore and civil societies across the three countries to promote awareness on the role of peatlands in changing climate change and the importance of sustainable palm oil practices in preventing haze pollution and deforestation.
- How may companies and individuals participate?
There are many ways to participate and join the Earth Hour movement. You can change your profile picture for today, in support of the cause; switch off the lights in your homes and offices; attend an Earth Hour event; go for an outdoor picnic or sustainable dinner; or watch the landmarks switch off with your friends and family.
In Singapore, you can attend WWF-Singapore’s event at the Float @ Marina Bay and partake in the fun and festivities including an eco-carnival, concert and a chance to be in the Guinness Book of World Records if you join the attempt to have the world’s largest collective gathering in a yoga tree pose. Visit the Earth Hour website to see what’s happening in an area near you, and also to find out more about how you can get involved in our movement to #ChangeClimateChange.
Source: Earth Hour; Photos: Earth Hour/Diego Añazco, WWF Ecuador.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.