Why Earth Hour is still relevant

Earth Hour is a symbolic action used to raise awareness, start a conversation, change behaviour and take action. And far from wearing out its use, it has – and still is – leading to action toward a low carbon economy.

Like Red Nose day, Shave for a Cure, and Movember, Earth Hour and switching off the lights is a symbolic action we take each year to remind ourselves of the challenges facing our planet, to think about how we source and use our energy, and inspire action for a lifetime of change.

So while the act of switching off the lights won’t save the planet like growing a Mo won’t actually cure men’s prostate cancer (but will prevent population increase) it’s the symbolic action that is used to raise awareness, start a conversation, change behaviour and take action.

Previous Earth Hours have inspired action, from a well known hotel chain – the Hilton – that initiated a range of sustainability and energy efficiency measures, to schools that have set up energy monitoring systems, veggie gardens, and water recycling.

This year for Earth Hour we are asking Australians to make a change, by switching off fossil fuels 'for good', and switching on to renewable energy. We are also asking people to sign our petition calling on the federal government to increase the RET to 50 per cent by 2030.

We are using Earth Hour this year to raise awareness about renewables, provide information on how households can make the switch, and even bust a few myths about the carbon price. The online community have been very receptive with more likes and shares than previous Earth Hours.

Rather than wearing out its use, from its humble beginnings 7 years ago in Sydney, Earth Hour has become a global phenomenon that successfully captures the attention of hundreds of millions of people across the planet.

In 2012, 7001 cities and towns participated across 152 countries and territories.

Last year, the Russian parliament passed a long-awaited law to protect the country's seas from oil pollution, after the voices of 120,000 Russians were presented to the government during the Earth Hour campaign.

This year, in Africa a 500,000 indigenous tree Earth Hour Forest has been inspired in the nation of Uganda. And in Botswana, former President Festus Mogae has made a four-year commitment to plant one million indigenous trees.

But meanwhile, we are heading for a 4 degree world, where the window to avert catastrophe and stop warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels is fast shutting.  So the need for Earth Hour to continue to raise awareness of the issue and to symbolise our desire for action has never been greater.

The beauty of Earth Hour is that it is very easy to participate, and the grass roots enthusiasm and positive feedback that we get here at WWF every year reinforces to us the value of the event. 

For the other 364 days a year WWF will continue to raise awareness, encourage behaviour change, work with business to reduce their emissions, and lobby governments for policies that will facilitate the transition to a low carbon clean economy and avoid dangerous climate change.

Kellie Caught, National Manager Climate Change, WWF.

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