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Cities around the world turn off lights for nature

Shamil Shams with AFP
March 24, 2018

Millions of people around the world are observing the annual Earth Hour to raise awareness about climate change. Dubai and Australia's Sydney Opera House were among the places to join the blackout.

Italian Earth Hour in Rome
Italian Earth Hour in RomeImage: Getty Images/AFP/V. Pinto

People around the world are turning off their lights for one hour on Saturday as part of the annual Earth Hour campaign, which aims to raise awareness about climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.

The 11th edition of Earth Hour aims to build support for biodiversity by focusing on forests, oceans and wildlife conservation. In addition, the environmentalists want to promote species protection this year.

Dubai Earth Hour celebrates with candles
Dubai Earth Hour celebrates with candlesImage: Getty Images/AFP/G. Cacace

Read more: World's landmarks turn off light for nature

Australia, where the first edition of Earth Hour was held in 2007, was the first to turn off the lights on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. local time (0930 UTC). Other countries followed the path of sunset across the globe. Millions of people in 7,000 cities, across 187 countries, were expected to take part in the campaign.

Earth Hour Sydney Opera House
Earth Hour Sydney Opera House

Among the global landmarks going dark are Beijing's Bird's Nest Olympic stadium, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Pyramids of Egypt and New York's Empire State Building.

In Australia, this year's Earth Hour focused on raising awareness of the four so-called "hero species" — green turtles, koalas, rock wallabies and penguins — while the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge plunged into darkness.

In Berlin, the lights will go out at the Brandenburg Gate, and in Paris, the Eiffel Tower will be without illumination.

Read more: Cities around the world turn off lights for WWF's 10th annual Earth Hour

The Magic of No Light

A multipronged challenge

"Climate change is a major threat to the stability of the planet and our livelihood and society, but climate change is only a component of the broader ecological crisis," said Marco Lambertini, director general of Earth Hour organizers WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature).

"Biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin of the ecological crisis we are facing," Lambertini told AFP news agency.

Read more:

Earth Hour: Famous landmarks plunge into darkness - but why?

Is China an overrated climate champion?

Sending a message to Trump

US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the global Paris climate agreement last year has sparked concerns about the protection of the world's climate. The WWF said it was hopeful that by participating in Earth Hour, young people in the US could send a message that the government needs to tackle global warming.

"Right now, deforestation, pollution, extinction are only impacting people on a sentimental level," said Lambertini. "People are sad about nature loss and animal extinction ... actually we need to be worried about it. Being sad is not enough."

Read more: Trump's growing cabinet of climate deniers

Apart from the largely symbolic blackout around the world, the Earth Hour campaign has achieved some tangible feats, including a ban on plastics in the Galapagos Islands and tree plantations in many countries.

Dianna Ali, who was having dinner with her family in Sydney as the lights went off, said the initiative had made her more aware of the impact her lifestyle has on the planet's health.

"Since Earth Hour started, it's made me more conscious of how much power I'm using," she said. "I think... about how much one individual can make a difference."

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