Millions to mark Earth Hour on Saturday

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pretoria - Millions of people across the globe will switch off their lights tomorrow night in commemoration of Earth Hour 2011.

"Tomorrow, let us join together to celebrate this shared quest to protect the planet and ensure human well-being. Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light," United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.

Millions of people in 133 countries, including South Africa, will switch off their lights for an hour between 8.30 and 9.30 pm on Saturday. Earth Hour is an initiative in partnership with the World Wide Fund. The initiative calls on individuals, business, governments and communities to turn off their lights in support for environmentally sustainable action.

In Durban, the Suncoast Casino & Entertainment World will pledge its support for Earth Hour by switching off its external lighting between 8.30 and 9.30 pm on Saturday.

"We do have in place power saving projects and water saving initiatives that have helped us operate in a more energy and water efficient manner, but Earth Hour gives Suncoast the opportunity to take a collective stand with landmarks right across the world," said executive director Mike Dowsley.

The City of Cape Town will also be switching off the lights on Table Mountain and in its own buildings for one hour in support of Earth Hour 2011. 

Through its recently launched Electricity Saving Campaign, the City will be working with its citizens to 'go beyond the hour' and reduce electricity consumption on an ongoing basis. 

Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral Committee Member for Planning and Environment and Chair of the City's Energy Committee said: "Earth Hour has done a lot to raise awareness of sustainability issues, but there is more to it this year than switching off lights for one hour once a year. 

"Cities across the globe, including Cape Town, are leading the drive to take Earth Hour 2011 beyond the hour by committing to lasting environmental actions. This Earth Hour we want Capetonians to go beyond the hour, and think about what else they can do to make a difference. Together our actions all add up."

The City of Cape Town has itself made a lasting environmental commitment as it prepares to switch off for the 2011 Earth Hour celebration. 

Alderman Clive Justus, Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, said: "The City is putting long-standing plans into action, building cycle paths around the city, installing energy efficient traffic and street lights, encouraging residents to save electricity by way of a creative advertising campaign, working with the commercial and industrial sectors to save electricity, retrofitting City-owned buildings so that they are more energy efficient and embarking on a waste reduction and recycling awareness campaign. Through these actions, we hope to encourage all Capetonians to start 'low-carbon living,' and protect our earth through the small daily actions that we can all take."

As part of the City's Electricity Saving Campaign, a video clip has been created to be distributed through the internet, encouraging Capetonians to both switch off their lights for an hour on Saturday night. 

The clip also encourages Capetonians to go way beyond the hour and take steps to reduce the amount of electricity they use every day. For example, turning the geyser thermostat down to 60øC to enable the saving of at least 5 percent of the electricity bill, investing less than R1 000 on an energy efficient showerhead and a geyser blanket and investing in options like solar water heating and ceiling insulation, are some of the suggested ways of saving electricity. 

As part of its support for Earth Hour 2011, Eskom has announced that they will be measuring the reduction in electricity used during the switch off against typical consumption for this time on an average Saturday evening.