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Earth Hour is an international event organised by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund), and held on the last Saturday of March each year, which asks households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Earth hour was conceived by WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney's lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008.
Earth Hour will next take place on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm, local time.
Currently, 82 countries and more than 2100 cities are 'committed to Earth Hour 2009', a huge increase from people participating in 35 countries for Earth Hour 2008. 1 billion 'votes' is the stated aim for Earth Hour 2009, in the context of the pivotal 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Among the participants this year is, for the first time, the United Nations building. The U.N. conservatively estimates that its participation will save $102 in energy.
According to WWF Thailand, Bangkok decreased electricity usage by 73.34 megawatts, which, over one hour, is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Bangkok Post gave different figures of 165 megawatt-hours and 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was noted to be significantly less than a similar campaign initiated by Bangkok's City Hall the previous year in May where 530 megawatt-hours were saved and 143 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission was cut. Toronto saved 900 megawatt-hours of electricity. 8.7% was saved if measured against a typical March Saturday night. Ireland, as a whole, had a reduction in electricity use of about 1.5% for the evening. In the three-hour period between 18:30 and 21:30, there was a reduction of 50 megawatts, saving 150 megawatt-hours, or approximately 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Celebrations around the world
- In Sydney, Australia, the end of Earth Hour was celebrated with a fireworks show. The Danish royal palaces, Amalienborg Palace and Gråsten Palace, went dark at the Queen's command.
- Nelly Furtado held a free concert at Nathan Philips Square in Downtown Toronto to celebrate Earth Hour.
- In Toronto, Ontario, York University’s student-run Environmental Outreach Team ran an afternoon Earth Hour information session, and the York University Observatory offered an extra public viewing session. Stargazing activities were held in Toronto's Ontario Science Centre and Richmond Hill's David Dunlap Observatory.
- Astronomy Ireland set up high-powered telescopes in Dublin's Phoenix Park to allow people to take advantage of the night sky, normally swamped by bright city lights.
- In Tel Aviv, Israel, a free open air concert by Knesiyat Hasekhel was held at Rabin Square. Power needed for the concert was generated by a group of cyclists pushing pedal generators. The rest of the power was supplied by generators burning used falafel oil for power.
- In Atlanta, the CEO of WWF US, Carter Roberts and the Mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin flipped a giant switch on live TV symbolically starting the wave of lights going out on the buildings around the city.
- In San Francisco, a public event hosted by WWF US was attended by Mayor Gavin Newsom, Gold medal figure skater Brian Boitano, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and other celebrities. They gathered to watch the lights go out, listening to the music of Jason Damato.
- In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the lights of the world's tallest twin towers, Petronas Twin Towers were turned off.
- In Egypt, the lights will go out on the Sphinx and Great Pyramids of Giza at 8:30 pm. Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, supports Earth Hour’s global call for action on climate change.
The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, switched off its usual floodlighting during the Earth Hour, and re-lit afterwards.