Earth Hour to kindle awareness about climate change

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Sydney, Mar 29 (UNI) The Opera House and Harbour Bridge here plunged into darkness as Australia turned down its lights for this year's Earth Hour, a global campaign to raise awareness about global warming.

The city was the first major metropolis to endure the self-imposed 60-minute black-out, turning out the lights on the landmark buildings and corporate skyscrapers.

Most businesses and homes were already dark as the residents embraced their second annual Earth Hour.

More than 2 million people and 2,000 businesses in Australia marked last year's event. Today's initiative was also spreading to hundreds of cities and towns in more than 35 nations aiming to engage the world community in combating global warming.

''It is a wake-up call. We need to plan our future. Going global is very empowering,'' Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

Sydney's lights-out followed New Zealand and Fiji, the first countries to launch Earth Hour this year.

'Earth Hour' founder Andy Ridley, who said up to 30 million people could participate this year, said the initiative had spread far and wide since it was launched by environmental group WWF a year ago.

''Our dream was to come up with something that made sense to a lot of people to do, and that seems to have happened,'' he said.

The campaign encourages governments, companies and homeowners to voluntarily switch off power to non-essential appliances for one hour to illustrate that using less energy and producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions could make a lot of difference.

''In the end it is a combination of behavioural change amongst individuals and that reinforces the behavioural change in business, state, provincial and federal governments wherever they are in the world,'' the Sky News quoted WWF Australia chief Greg Bourne as saying.

In Bangkok, the lights on some of the Thai capital's most famous landmarks, including the riverside Temple of the Dawn, the Rama 8 Cable Bridge across the Chao Phraya River and the main boulevard in the city's historic core would be turned off.

Thai TV and music stars would also join events organised by the city to raise awareness of global warming, as street lamps would be turned off on eight main thoroughfares.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has called on members 'to participate in this global hour of action by encouraging their employees and stakeholders to turn off or reduce the lights and appliances in their homes, offices and product billboards.

UNI XC SYU PM1649

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