Earth Hour will be celebrated this year on March 28, 2015 between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm in more than 172 countries and territories and 7,000 cities to raise awareness for the conservation of the planet.
Earth Hour is a grassroots movement, organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), that unites people to protect the planet all across the world. At its basis, it can be called a “lights-off” movement.
The purpose is to create awareness of environmental issues that Pakistan faces today, such as energy shortfalls and food and water security, which are creating economic and health issues.
The Earth Hour movement has grown from a symbolic lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to the world’s largest voluntary campaign, mobilising people in all seven continents.
Initiated by WWF-Australia in order to sensitise people on the issue of climate change, Earth Hour was first organised on March 31, 2007 in Sydney at 7:30 pm, local time.
The movement gained overwhelming response, and therefore the very next year it was organised internationally in 35 countries and over 400 cities on March 29, 2008 from 8 pm to 9 pm.
WWF-Pakistan joined the Earth Hour club in 2010, and since then it has grown bigger each year.
Last year, WWF-Pakistan celebrated Earth Hour by holding events all across the country. The main event was organised at Qarshi University in Lahore, with several simultaneous events taking place in Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan, and Sheikhupura.
More than 500 landmarks celebrated Earth Hour by switching off their lights. Some of them included Badshahi Mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan, National Assembly, Supreme Court, Shah Faisal Mosque, Senate, Punjab Assembly, Sindh Assembly and other significant monuments.
|People actively participate in celebrating Earth Hour by lighting candles. — Courtesy Photo|
According to Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan, said that “Pakistan is among the top ten countries affected by climate change. On this Earth Hour, join WWF and millions of people around the world to show your commitment to our one and only planet.
"Switching off lights for one hour on Saturday, 28th March 2015 is a symbolic gesture. All of us should pledge to take action in our capacity as an individual, business and policy and decision-maker to reduce our footprint, conserve nature and protect the environment”.
|Earth Hour 2010: People celebrating Earth Hour at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia. —WWF/ Sewell|
For Pakistan, celebrating Earth Hour holds much importance as the people of this country are one of the most vulnerable to it.
A German think tank, German Watch Institute, in its briefing paper titled Global Climate Risk Index 2014 placed Pakistan at number three after Haiti and the Philippines in the list of top ten countries most affected from climate change in 2012.
|Candles forming 60 for Earth Hour near the Eiffel Tower Paris France.— WWF / Nina Munn|
Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, Federal Minister for Climate Change, expressed his concern over the increase of extreme weathering events in Pakistan.
According to him, “Negative impacts of climate change are already evident on different socio-economic sectors of Pakistan, particularly agriculture, the mainstay of the country’s economy.
"However, mitigating these harmful impacts from rapidly changing weather patterns, which cannot be dealt effectively, is only possible when each of us plays his due part. We need to ponder over our respective lifestyle decisions and tap opportunities that will help each of us reduce our carbon footprint. "
|Lanterns being released in the air during Earth Hour. — Courtesy Photo|
Mushahid further added “Scientists have agreed that human activity has increased and the proportion of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has escalated during the past few hundred years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fourth report released in 2007 stated loud and clear that multiple evidences confirms that the post-industrial rise in greenhouse gases has not stemmed from natural mechanisms. Instead, it is due to anthropogenic changes and this man-made issue can be resolved by pledging allegiance to Earth Hour, and going beyond the hour, which indeed stresses the need to mitigate climate change.”
|Earth Hour 2010: Skyline showing the Sphinx and the Pyramids after the lights are switched off for Earth Hour, Giza, near Cairo, Egypt. —WWF/Jason Larkin|
The Earth’s resources are depleting and Earth Hour requires the country to be more aware about how we use our planet’s finite resources.
WWF-Pakistan is focused on engaging people in conserving resources that we do have. This movement has taken the world by storm and everyone should join hands to show their commitment and solidarity for the cause.
Earth Hour should serve as a warning and a beacon of hope. By switching off unnecessary lights for an hour, people will participate in world’s largest voluntary movement to #ChangeClimateChange so that the importance of conserving ecosystems can be raised among all.
Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, Federal Minister for Climate Change points some lifestyle changes that can be taken for creating a better environment:
- Maximising use of public transport instead of personal cars
- Energy-efficient bulbs
- Water conservation at all levels
- Recycling -Turning off non-essential lights in offices and homes to minimise carbon footprints.
The writer is a freelance journalist. He tweets @SyedMAbubakar