SA to join the world in support of Earth Hour campaign

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans across the country will join more than one billion people in 1 000 major cities worldwide in switching off their lights for an hour on Saturday in support of the Earth Hour campaign.

The worldwide "switch off" event will take place between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday evening.

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.

On Friday ahead of the event, all City-owned buildings in Johannesburg switched off their lights for one hour in support of Earth Hour, the climate change initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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,

The city also had a "Big Switch Off" from 10am to 11am on the same day.

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.

Durban's Mayor Obed Mlaba has also pledged his support for the WWF Earth Hour campaign.

He said the eThekwini Municipality, as well as the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC), have joined the campaign and will switch off their lights for an hour on Saturday.

The municipality is also planning to hold a parade through the city centre on the day to raise awareness around the event and its energy saving campaign.

The likes of Ryk Neethling, Bryan Habana, Marc Lottering, Freshlyground, Jo-Ann Strauss, Soli Philander, Leon Schuster, the Moroka Swallows and the Parlotones are among the local celebrities who have pledged to do the same.

Archbishop Tutu, who is regarded as the patron for the WWF initiative across the world, Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille and E-TV's Head of Weather and Meteorology Derek van Dam, who has become one of South Africa's favourite weathermen, will also participate.

Mr Mlaba said: "The Earth Hour campaign is the ideal initiative to raise awareness on the effect of excessive energy consumption and wastage on the earth. We all need to do our bit to save energy, live responsibly and reduce wastage to ensure a brighter future for the generations to come."

This project fits in with the city's current "Switch Off, Unplug, Save" campaign, which aims to save 10 percent of electricity consumed by all Durban residents.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ICC, Miller Matola, said he fully supported the campaign and the drive to make individuals more aware of the need to conserve energy. "We are a significant consumer of power and are committed to playing whatever role we can in saving energy."

Durban's mayor has urged all residents, hotels, businesses and property owners to heed the global call to switch off their lights and appliances for one hour on Saturday.

Earth Hour, which is an international event, 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.

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.