This 2013, the 7th Earth Hour event was observed in more than 7,000 cities, towns and municipalities all over the world.
The awareness raising event saw millions of people in over 150 countries and territories turn off their lights for an hour to show their support for a sustainable future for the planet.
“Now in its 7th year, Earth Hour is maturing from its origins as a consciousness raising event in one city, to a global movement that is not just calling for change but is engaging in it,” said Earth Hour chief executive officer and co-founder, Andy Ridley.
Moving beyond lights off
While shutting the lights off for an hour might not necessarily do anything concrete for the environment, by participating in Earth Hour, various individuals and organizations have begun to find their inspiration from the event and started to move from supporting Earth Hour to acting for the environment.
“What is most important is the ever increasing extent to which Earth Hour’s supporters are participating in or taking actions themselves,” said Mr. Ridley.
In 2012, for example, a signature campaign launched as part of Earth Hour is said to have spurred the passage of a crucial environmental law by the Russian parliament; a pledge for 100,000 trees in Bostwana and 500,000 tress in Uganda; and the installation of 132,141 energy efficient light bulbs in the U.S. (see related story).
This year, World Wildlife Fund Earth Hour Russia is attempting to get another environmental law through Russia’s parliament, with more than 100,000 signatures on a petition for forest protection. Other examples of Earth Hour inspired green action includes WWE-India and the ING Vysya Bank committing to bring solar power to fifty rural villages in Orissa; 100,000 cleaner wood saving stoves in Madagascar to reduce the impact of charcoal production and wood gathering in forests; and a campaign by WWF and its affiliate Fundacion Vida Silvestre in Argentina to pass a senate bill to make Banco Burwood a 3.4 million hectare marine protected area.
Earth Hour, the largest symbolic mass participation event in the world, promotes awareness and inspires environmentally responsible actions.
Countries and territories participating in Earth Hour for the first time this year included Palestine, Suriname, Rwanda and Tunisia.
Dimming the lights and going into darkness
In 2012, Earth Hour featured a view from space of the dimming of the lights across the globe (see related story).
This year, another “dimming of the lights” event celebrated not just Earth Hour but mankind’s love for the idea of the stars and the final frontier.
In the United Kingdom, a special “Star Trek” themed light display marking the start and end of Earth Hour 2013 was sponsored and mounted by Paramount Pictures.
“We are very pleased to go ‘into darkness’ with the rest of the world in support of Earth Hour. It seems fitting to be associated with such a global cause,» said John Fletcher, director of Marketing for Paramount Pictures U.K.
The latest installation of Star Trek franchise, the movie “Star Trek Into Darkness” is expected this May.
For Earth Hour, Paramount and Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies arranged for quadrocopters -powered by batteries charged in Austria using renewable energy – to fly into the night sky forming the Trek logo beside Tower Bridge.
As Earth Hour began, the quadrocopters turned off their lights only to reform the Star Trek logo to signal the end of Earth Hour.
“W.W.F. is delighted that Paramount is supporting this year’s Earth Hour event,” said Kellie Rollings from W.W.F.
“Millions of people around the world take part in Earth Hour year on year and we’re always looking for innovative ways to get our message out there,” added Ms. Rollings.
The Tower Bridge, where the Paramount display took place, also dimmed its lights for Earth Hour. Since its inception, various national landmarks go dark during Earth Hour. These include the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, Marina Bay Sands Singapore, the Kremlin and Red Square, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of Pisa and the Empire State Building, Times Square and the U.N. Headquarters in New York among others.
Green cities and public celebrations
The event also set out to recognize environmentally friendly cities throughout the globe with the Earth Hour City Challenge won by Vancouver in Canada. Vancouver is the first ever Global Earth Hour Capital, recognized for its actions on climate change and dedication towards creating a sustainable, pleasant urban environment.
By 2020, Vancouver aims to have all new buildings carbon neutral in their operations; citizen’s making over 50 percent of trips by foot, bicycle or public transport; and sees the number of green jobs doubled.
The event is also marked by public concerts in places such as Libya, Pokhara in Nepal, Kuala Lumpur, Hahoi, Kingston and Singapore.