23rd March 2018
At 8.30pm tomorrow, national architectures from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Bird’s Nest in Beijing will be switching off their lights for an hour.
They will be joining millions across the world as they celebrate Earth Hour, an annual event to spark global awareness on the need for action on climate change and other environmental issues.
While switching off the lights for an hour will not bear much significance for the environment, the motive of Earth Hour is to spark conversations and movements around the world.
The event, organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), began in Sydney in 2007 and has grown into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment.
Earth Hour 2017 was marked by 187 countries with over 3,000 landmarks switching off their lights and millions of individuals, organisations and businesses participated.
According to WWF, the Earth Hour movement has inspired lots of projects across the world including the banning of plastics in the Galapagos in 2014 and the use of solar power to light up homes in India.
Director General of WWF International, Marco Lambertini said: “Nature is in alarming decline. Halting its loss is urgent and crucial as much as tackling climate change.”
“Today, as biodiversity loss threatens global ambition on climate action and sustainable development, Earth Hour will focus its efforts on building mainstream support for action on biodiversity and nature.”
Earth Hour in Ireland
In Ireland, President Michael D Higgins will be marking Earth Hour by switching off the light at Aras an Uachtarain, as he did in 2017.
“The symbolic and unified act of switching off the lights in homes and public buildings is a powerful one; an act that will shine a light on the urgent need for climate action,” the President said.
“The Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear indication of the actions we need to take, together. Earth Hour is a moment to illustrate our shared resolve to make the required actions a reality.”
Various locations across Ireland are also hosting events to mark Earth Hour. One of them is the Friends of Merlin Woods, a community group based in Co Galway.
Group spokesperson Caroline Stanley said that she hopes to encourage people to appreciate nature, wildlife and to understand their own impact on the world’s resources.
“Our woodlands, meadows, oceans and wildlife are all under threat and we want to help raise that awareness,” she added.
Ireland’s Earth Hour Ambassador, Deirdre Lane, is pleased with the support received from numerous communities in the build up to the event.
“It is great to see growing support from schools, nature hosting events in the woodland and joining voices in harmony in choral workshops.”
The House of Oireachtas will also be taking part in Earth Hour by darkening national iconic buildings, including Leinster House.
According to the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Sean O Fearghail, this is one step in the Orieachtas’ “sustained effort” to reduce carbon emissions in the entire Leinster House complex through the Optimising Power @ Work campaign.
The Minister for Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, TD has confirmed that the his own department with be joining Leinster House, together with Custom House, Ross Castle, the Rock Of Cashel and Trim Castle.
“Earth Hour is a symbolic representation of the power that we all have to make a difference in the fight against climate change,” he said.