March 29, 2008

Australia’s largest city was shrouded in darkness on Saturday night as it launched a worldwide campaign stretching from Sydney to San Francisco to highlight global warming.

Sydney was the first major metropolis to mark Saturday’s ‘Earth Hour’, a self-imposed 60-minute black-out, with the lights on landmark buildings, corporate skyscrapers, businesses and homes switched off from 8:00 pm (0900 GMT).

From there the initiative, which aims to engage the community in combatting global warming, will see lights dimmed or turned off at 8:00 pm local time in Asian cities such as Bangkok and Manila, before spreading further to Europe and the Americas. Tel Aviv marked the event on March 27 for religious reasons.

‘Earth Hour’ founder Andy Ridley, who has said up to 30 million people could participate this year, said he was amazed at how far the initiative had spread since it was launched by environmental group WWF in Sydney a year ago.

“When we first talked about it, right at the beginning, our dream was to come up with something that made sense to a lot of people to do,” he told AFP.

“And what seems to have happened is that it does seem to make sense to a lot of people to do it.”

‘Earth Hour’ encourages governments, companies and homeowners to voluntarily switch off power to non-essential appliances for one hour to illustrate how, by working together, people can make a difference by using less energy, thereby producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

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