Joburg plans an hour of darkness

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Johannesburg - City-owned buildings will go dark for one hour on Friday, 27 March in support of Earth Hour, the climate change initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

To support the global Earth Hour campaign and show that the city is serious about tackling climate change, the city will have a "Big Switch Off" from 10am to 11am on the day, according to Lisa McNamara, a climate change specialist in the city's environmental management department.

"The lights will be turned off in the city's 17 corporate buildings, including the Metro Centre, [and] as many of its other public buildings as possible," she said.

The buildings include Jorissen Place in Braamfontein, ACA Building, Sandton Civic Centre, Teljoy House, CJ Cronje Building, Jabulani Civic Centre, Dobsonville Civic Centre, Newtown Building, Ennerdale Civic Centre, Proton House and Roodepoort Civic Centre, reports

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

Residents have also been urged to switch off their lights for one hour on Saturday, 28 March, from 8.30pm, to demonstrate their support for Earth Hour.

Earth Hour, an annual international event held last Saturday, began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when two million people switched off their lights for one hour. A year later, more than 50 million people across the globe took part on the night of 29 March 2008.

This year, more than 538 cities and towns in 75 countries have committed to Earth Hour. In South Africa, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town have committed to participating with the hope that more cities in the country will come on board.

Across the globe more than 37 national capitals and some of the great cities of the world - including London, Beijing, Rome, Los Angeles, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro - will be dim when millions of residents switch off their lights at 8.30pm on 28 March.

Some of the most famous landmarks on earth will also go dark for an hour, including the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Merlion in Singapore, the Sydney Opera House and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The Earth Hour campaign is a show of support for action on climate change and, more specifically, for a fair, effective and science-based global deal to be negotiated by world leaders at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference at the end of this year.