Saving the world with the flick of a switch

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At 8:30pm on Saturday 28th March the world will be plunged into darkness. But fear not, this is not a cause for alarm but for celebration.

Cities across the globe, from Las Vegas to Singapore, and from Dubai to Athens, will be switching off their lights as part of WWF’s Earth Hour. The aim of the event is to send a clear and unambiguous message to the political leaders meeting in Copenhagen in December for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: a global deal must be secured that ensures our world will have a future.

Earth Hour, which began in Sydney in 2007 and resulted in a 10 per cent reduction on the electrical grid, saving 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, has grown into global event. It is a unique opportunity for people from Hong Kong to Istanbul to vote with their light switch for decisive measures to combat global warming. So far 1180 cities have signed up to switch off for Earth Hour, and many of the world’s most famous landmarks will be hard to spot.

Nelson’s Column, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Sydney Opera House, and the London Eye will all be fluorescent-free for the hour, and the Coca Cola sign in Piccadilly Circus will be turned off for only the third time since the Second World War. In all, more than 280 iconic landmarks have agreed to go lightless in support of affirmative action on climate change.

So what to do in this hour of darkness? We spend most of our waking moments in light, either natural or artificial, and it might be difficult to think of suitable ways to mark the occasion. Thankfully, the WWF has come up with a whole host of ideas on how to spend the hour. You could host a candlelit dinner party, arrange an acoustic night, organise a movie night, or convince your local pub landlord to hold a pub quiz in the dark. Another idea is to create light graffiti, which involves using a camera and a torch to make words and images from beams of light. Or you could simply find a patch of grass, lie back, and make a note of the stars which have not signed up for Earth Hour.

To get involved in the biggest environmental campaign in history, and to help the WWF reach its target of getting one billion people to switch off their lights for the hour, go to You can find posters, toolkits with information about Earth Hour and how to help spread the word, dinner party resources, and instructions on how to start creating light graffiti. 

So on 28th March join the world in voting with your light switch for decisive action on climate change. As Andy Ridley, Earth Hour Executive Director says, “Earth Hour is an opportunity for the global community to speak in one voice on the issue of climate change.” Make sure your voice is heard.

The lights go out in the UK at 8:30pm on Saturday 28th March. For more information, go to