Johannesburg - Electricity utility Eskom is calling on all South Africans to participate in the worldwide climate change awareness programme by switching off the nation's lights for an hour during the evening of 28 March.
The company said the national "switch off" event would be a tangible way of demonstrating solidarity and support for the Earth Hour global awareness campaign, designed to stimulate awareness about global warming.
Between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on 28 March, it is hoped that more than one billion people in 1 000 major cities around the world will accept the call to switch off their lights for one hour, reports SouthAfrica.info.
"This will by far surpass the 2008 event, when people in 35 countries participated," said Eskom corporate services MD Steve Lennon in a company statement recently.
"As part of its support for the campaign, Eskom will be measuring the reduction of electricity used during the hour against typical consumption for this time on an average Saturday evening."
Eskom, which is a signatory to major international business declarations and coalitions on climate change, sees the Earth Hour campaign as a significant project that deserves its support, as well as that of all South Africans.
According to Mr Lennon, turning off the lights for an hour in South Africa, as in many other countries, means that hundreds of tons of coal are saved from being burned to produce electricity - in fact every kilowatt hour of electricity saved amounts to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of one kilogramme.
The utility has adopted a six-point climate change plan that commits it to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa.
The plan concentrates on diversifying the generation mix to lower carbon-emitting technologies; adopting energy efficiency measures to reduce demand for electricity as well as greenhouse gases and other emissions.
The plan also adapts the negative impacts of climate change; innovating changes through research, demonstration and development; investing in carbon credit market mechanisms, and making progress in climate change mechanisms through advocacy, partnerships and collaboration.
"As South Africa's primary supplier of electricity, we believe Earth Hour is an initiative we must support as it underlines our key role as a supplier of electricity and the active role that all South Africans can play in reducing demand for electricity.
"This will be demonstrated on 28 March. We look forward to the participation of all South Africans," said Mr Lennon.