Earth hour enjoys massive support across SA

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pretoria - Earth Hour 2009 enjoyed a massive response across the world, including in South Africa on Saturday night, as supporters switched off their lights in a visual call for action on climate change.

Government, big business, celebrities and the South African public joined around one billion people worldwide in switching off their lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm as part of the global campaign against climate change.

Landmarks including Cape Town's Table Mountain, Johannesburg's Sandton City, the Vodacom Ponte Tower, the Union Buildings and Tuynhuys and Durban's International Convention Centre were plunged into darkness.

Non-essential lights were also turned off by Vodacom, Airports Company South Africa, Pick n Pay, the University of South Africa, Coca-Cola, ABSA, Mr Delivery, Virgin Active, Mango Airlines, ACSA, Rand Water, Media24 and Heart 1049fm and many other participating companies, universities, households and schools.

All lights were switched off for an hour, except emergency lights. However, the electricity was not turned off so that people could still use lifts, computers and other essential appliances to minimise the impact on daily operations.

Dr Morn, du Plessis, CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature, said Earth Hour enjoyed massive support from a broad range of well known South Africans from mayors to sports stars and media personalities to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Earth Hour's global ambassador, and thousands of ordinary South Africans.

"It shows how seriously South Africans are taking climate change. We're in step with the rest of the world on that, with close on 4000 cities and towns in 88 countries across all seven continents switching off their lights.

"We believe it may be remembered as critical moment in action on climate change."

Celebrations were held at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra gave a free performance, and at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, where the Black Hotels and the Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir performed.

Many South Africans organised their own Earth Hour parties and events including a number of "Earth Hour weddings".

"It's important to realise that Earth Hour is just the first step. It's vital that as a nation and as a global community we maintain this momentum ensuring that world leaders are kept aware of the global call for real action on climate change," said Mr Du Plessis.

Earth Hour, which is an international event, began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when two million people switched off their lights for one hour. More than 50 million people across the globe took part in 2008.

Worldwide icons such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Tower of London and the Dome of St Peter in Rome were also among some of the more than 800 global landmarks that went dark.