From: Reuters
Published February 19, 2008 08:17 AM

World switches on to Earth Hour switch-off

By Rob Taylor

CANBERRA (Reuters) - As many as 30 million people are tipped to switch off lights and televisions around the world to help fight climate change with 24 cities joining Earth Hour on March 29, environment group WWF said on Wednesday.

Following last year's Earth Hour in Australia, where 2.2 million Sydneysiders powered-down for an hour, cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Bangkok, Ottawa, Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal and Phoenix have also signed on, WWF said.

They joined Copenhagen and Aarhus, Manila, Fiji's capital Suva, Chicago, Tel Aviv, Christchurch, Toronto, Odense and Aalborg, as well as major Australian cities including Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the national capital Canberra.

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"If we see the same participation levels around the globe that we did in Sydney, then we can anticipate more than 30 million people involved," said Andy Ridley, Earth Hour's executive director.

Earth Hour asks residents in participating cities to switch off lights and non-essential electrical items for one hour at 8 p.m. to raise awareness of carbon emissions that scientists blame for causing global warming.

During last year's Sydney event, restaurants used candles and lights were turned off in homes and major landmarks, including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

This year, Ridley said, other iconic buildings to be plunged into darkness would include San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago's Sears Tower and Soldier Field Stadium football ground, as well as the 553-metre CN Tower in Toronto.

"Climate change is a truly global issue and people around the world are demanding action," he said.

During last year's Earth Hour in Sydney, essential lights were kept on for safety reasons, including street lights. Power provider Energy Australia said the event cut electricity consumption by 10.2 percent.

(Editing by David Fogarty)

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