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KARACHI: “My cousins and I were enjoying the cool breeze in the park when we saw some activity here so we came to see what was going on,” said Amna Noonari, at the Frere Hall on Saturday evening.

“I am not sure what is going on. Maybe that gentleman in the panda shirt knows something,” said Ahmed Ali, who also said he was at the park with his family but was drawn to whatever was going on at Frere Hall.

None had heard about Earth Hour or had any idea about what it meant. The messages, such as ‘Shine a light on climate change’ being projected on the stone walls of the building puzzled them. The little lamps placed on the floor to form ‘60+’ intrigued them even more.

But as soon as the time came to switch off the extra lights there and everyone’s eyes opened wide, they started appreciating the shadows and the flame of the little lamps. That’s when they realised what was really going on.

Earth Hour is the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) global environmental movement, which started from Sydney, Australia, in 2007 to inspire people all over the world to stand in solidarity for climate change.

At 8.30pm sharp, Pakistan joined 184 nations around the world to celebrate the 10th edition of World Earth Hour. Landmarks across the country in Karachi, along with Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar switched off their lights and joined WWF-Pakistan’s call to stand with millions of people shining a light on climate change.

Participants of the event at Frere Hall included Mayor of Karachi Wasim Akhtar, former environment minister Shaikh Mohammad Afzal, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency chief Naeem Ahmed Mughal and other senior officials of organisations partnering with WWF-Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Akhtar said it’s high time that we act against the adverse impacts of climate change and promote alternative energy options in the country.

He said although the earth was facing serious climate change with threats including sea level rise, increase in temperature, melting of glaciers, heavy floods and widespread rainfall, they could be addressed if industrialised countries took practical measures to reduce greenhouse gases and adopt environmentally sustainable practices.

He urged that there is also a need to take efforts for conservation of water and energy resources at the local level.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2017