Switch on to switching off

Ann Meikle urges everyone to join in Earth Hour

Tomorrow evening at 8.30pm individuals and organisations across the world will switch off their lights for one hour, WWF’s Earth Hour. Around Wales, people of all ages, backgrounds and political allegiances have put aside their differences and shown their support for this year’s Earth Hour campaign. The modern media make it possible for such mass global events to ensure that even a small country like Wales can have a global impact.

Last year’s Earth Hour was the biggest ever climate change event. WWF Cymru is using its place in a global WWF network, to mobilise the Welsh public to make their support for action on climate change visible.

Local authorities have been signing up and schools from all over Wales have taken part in an Olympic-style virtual relay to show they care about climate change, using a WWF Panda-shaped wind-up torch. To date, more than 80 Welsh schools and 13 local authorities have pledged support. Dozens of iconic Welsh landmarks and buildings around Wales will be going dark tomorrow night, including the Wales Millennium Centre, Newport’s Civic Clock Tower, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, the Senedd Building and, thanks to CADW, castles such as Caernarfon, Conwy, Tintern Abbey and Castell Coch. They are all observing WWF’s Earth Hour.

So, with much of Cardiff Bay pledging to switch off, WWF Cymru will mark Earth Hour in Wales with a free event in the Oval Basin. As darkness descends, we plan to naturally illuminate the Oval Basin with a dramatic fire show. The evening will be opened by Radio Wales presenter Lisa Rogers and will be attended by Wales’ Environment, Sustainability and Housing Minister, Jane Davidson, who is supporting this year’s Earth Hour campaign.

In addition, a host of Welsh celebrities have switched on to the idea of switching off for WWF’s Earth Hour, including Stereophonics front man Kelly Jones, former Spice Girl Mel C, gold-medal winning Olympic athlete Iwan Thomas, model Danielle Lineker, Professor George McGavin, and actors Jonny Owens, Kezia Burrows and Victor Spinetti.

Environmentally-minded businesses signed up to tackling climate change and taking a stand for Earth Hour are the Hilton Hotel Cardiff, St David’s Hotel and Spa, Dow Corning, Mermaid Quay Management Centre and UK wide partners are Coca-Cola, M&S and IKEA.

In 2009, millions of individuals in 4,088 towns and cities from over 80 countries took part in Earth Hour – to demonstrate their concern about climate change and the future of our planet to world leaders. 800 iconic landmarks around the world switched off their lights for one hour and transformed the global skyline in a dramatic call for action. In the UK Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Edinburgh Castle, Wales’ Millennium Stadium and Stormont were among 200 buildings that signed up and switched off.

In 2010, we aim to reach over one billion people in 5,000 cities. We need people all over Wales to lend their voices and help make this the biggest ever global participation event.

Last December world leaders in Copenhagen missed a massive opportunity to agree a global climate deal. However, with every year of delay, the human, ecological and economic effects of climate change will become more severe. To avoid a 2°C rise in temperature, global emissions must reach a peak by 2015 and decline thereafter. This means that the window of opportunity to take action is very small. That’s why Earth Hour 2010 is so important.

By making Earth hour even bigger this year we can all send a strong message to world leaders that people around the globe are united in calling for a binding, ambitious, global climate deal. Earth Hour is a visible way to show politicians, neighbours and the whole world how important tackling climate change is to you.So whether you’re a school, business, or a caring individual we would love it if you did your bit this Earth Hour. If you haven’t already signed up there is still time. Together we can make a difference to the future of our world. Join this global event and proudly say I was part of the Earth Hour 2010.

You can sign up to Earth Hour here or in Welsh yma.

Ann Meikle is Head of WWF Cymru.

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