Earth Hour Live

Tonight, millions of people are joining together, and turning off their lights to help make a difference and raise awareness about the issue of global warming. See how the world is taking part, with these live news feeds and images from participating cities. Don't forget to share your Earth Hour moments too. Remember - turn off your lights!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Taking action on climate change through Earth Hour

Taking action on climate change through Earth Hour
By Jone Tuiipelehaki, WWF

With sudden changes to the Earths climatic conditions, it is becoming even more urgent to make a stand. We don’t need to look far to see that the effects of global warming is practically knocking on our doors.

Tuvalu is a classic example, as some parts of their nine very low lying coral atoll islands are getting inundated as the ocean rises. While we in the Pacific contribute very little to this global phenomenon, we are the ones most at risk.

Fiji is no exception. Tropical Cyclone Gene is a classic example of how climate change affects us. Climate change will bring about stronger and more frequent extreme weather events. Cyclone Gene cost Fiji over FJD45m!

So with the urgent need to do something about this global phenomenon, WWF along with the endorsement of the Suva Lord Mayor, Honourable Ratu Peni Volavola, has agreed for Suva to take part in a WWF organised event that uses the simple principle of switching off all non essential lights at offices and homes.

Other cities and towns in Fiji are joining the campaign and turning off lights on the 29th of March.

Earth Hour symbolise that governments, businesses and individuals alike can make a difference in the fight against global warming. It is also a longer term commitment to not waste electricity and to use energy efficient appliances and encourages the government to invest in clean renewable energy and not in polluting fossil fuels wherever possible.
This way, we continue to be proactive about climate change, the greatest threat to our lives and save ourselves money.

“I’m proud that the people of Fiji will join this international effort and encourage all businesses and Suva residents to join in our collective endeavors to ensure that we make a better and more positive difference,” said Honourable Volavola.

“We want to urge our fellow citizens not to waste electricity and to show that our city is committed to joining the fight against climate change particularly because Fiji is vulnerable to the global phenomenon of rising sea levels, costal erosion and other risks that raise alarm”

He added that “even though Pacific islands are a small drop in the ocean as compared to other more developed countries, our voice is significant and if Fiji can make this 60 minute commitment to switch off during Earth Hour, than it should encourage bigger countries to also commit themselves to this cause.”

WWF- South Pacific Interim Representative, Kesaia Tabunakawai said, “even though we are not big contributors to the cause of climate change we should show that we are willing to take action to reduce the risk as much as our resources will allow.”

“In turning off the lights, we want to draw attention of the world to our plight and we want to strongly urge industrialised countries to reduce their emissions of climate changing gases by 50-85% by 2050 to protect our islands, our lives and our identities,” Tabunakawai added.

In addition to the Lord Mayor and the City Council, the Fiji Police Force, the Fire Department as well as the Fiji Electricity Authority are supporting Earth Hour.

Since Earth Hour began in March of 2007 in Sydney, it has seen a tremendous amount of support from other cities around the world with Bangkok (Thailand); Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide (Australia), Christchurch (New Zealand), Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, Atlanta (USA), Copenhagen, Odense, Aarhus, Aalborg (Denmark), Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, (Canada), Manila (Philippines) and Tel Aviv (Israel) joining Suva and Lautoka cities to take up a global demonstration of the world’s readiness to tackle climate change head on. Cities are known to emit a lot of greenhouses gasses that cause climate change.

Suva is the first city in the Pacific Islands region participating in the event and it will also be one of the first cities in the world to turn off its lights for the event. Suva is joined by Lautoka City and Lami Town.

Earth Hour, and indeed climate change are not just about March 29th. Pacific governments have a massive fight ahead of them to ensure a global treaty is in place by 2009 to limit climate change well below dangerous levels. Earth Hour sends a compelling signal to Pacific governments to be more proactive in representing the plights of their people and to negotiate actively in international climate policy negotiations.

“Other towns in Fiji are most welcome to join this campaign. The event will draw good attention from the world’s media, making people around the world more aware about the threats of climate change to the Pacific as well as bring in a good publicity in general for the city of Suva and Fiji,” said Tabunakawai.

“Local Businesses have also shown their enthusiasm, with nearly 50 companies already signed up and more from the business community are expected to step up to the challenge.”

“Earth Hour 2008 is just a start of an annual event with more cities in Fiji, the Pacific and the world joining in.The awareness and excitement created, governments, businesses and people will be taking positive steps in everyday life to fight the climate changes that threaten our islands, our lives and our identities,” she said.

“Everyone has to contribute to make a difference,” Tabunakawai added, and “in regards to dealing with climate change, some of the countries with the biggest responsibilities, so to speak, are not yet doing enough. Events such as Earth Hour creates a lot of awareness and enthusiasm and moral pressure for change.”

“Pacific Island countries emit only a very small percentage of such gases globally, but we all have to do our part, if people are in a sinking boat, everyone bails the water, some with big buckets, some with cups and some with their hands,” she said.

Officially launched in December 2007 at the United Nations Climate Change meeting, Earth Hour has grown from a single event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to a global phenomenon that will occur across six continents and as many as 26 cities this year.

And with this increased level of awareness Earth Hour 2008, with its international contingent, hopes to spread the message that reducing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions is a shared global responsibility.

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