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Earth Hour
Earth Hour 60+ Logo.jpg
Observed by World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)
Celebrations Lights candle with fire, lights off
Begins 8:30 pm
Ends 9:30 pm
Date The last Saturday in March
Related to Climate Change and to save Earth.

Earth Hour is a global environmental movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) aiming to raise awareness and inspire people to take tangible action for the environment.

The event is held annually encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights, for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. usually on the last Saturday in March, as a symbol of commitment to the planet.

It was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. Since then, it has grown into one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment spanning over 7,000 cities and 190 countries and territories. Now in its 15th year, the one-hour lights-out event continues to be the symbol of a broader commitment towards the health of the planet.

Earth Hour 2021 will be held on March 27, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. This year, in addition to encouraging supporters to switch off non-essential lights, Earth Hour is debuting its first-ever "Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight." In the same way that the collective act of switching off has turned entire streets, buildings, and city skylines dark - an unmissable sight that drew public attention to the most important issues facing our planet - the Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight aims to take over global social media feeds for an hour and beyond, recreating the same unmissable sight online.

Every year, Earth Hour has seen record participation across seven continents, even aboard the International Space Station. It has inspired millions to support and participate in critical climate and conservation projects led by WWF. This has powered efforts to drive climate policy, awareness and action among individuals, businesses and governments.

Over the years, Earth Hour has been the force behind environmental achievements including successfully pushing for new legislation to protect seas and forests in Russia; planting of 17 million trees in Kazakhstan; providing renewable energy fuel-efficient stoves to families in Nepal and Madagascar and lighting up homes with solar power in India and the Philippines; mobilizing public support for the creation of a 3.4 million hectare marine-protected area in Argentina; creating a 2,700-hectare Earth Hour forest in Uganda. In 2018, French Polynesia successfully moved to protect 5 million square kilometres of its seas to protect ocean ecosystems.

History

Conception and start: 2004–2007

In 2004, confronted with scientific findings, WWF Australia met with advertising agency Leo Burnett Sydney to "discuss ideas for engaging Australians on the issue of climate change". The idea of a large scale switch off was coined and developed in 2006, originally under the working title "The Big Flick". WWF Australia presented their concept to Fairfax Media who, along with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, agreed to back the event. The 2007 Earth Hour was held on March 31 in Sydney, Australia at 7:30 pm, local time.

In October 2007 San Francisco ran its own "Lights Out" program inspired by the Sydney Earth Hour. After their successful event in October, the organizers decided to rally behind the Earth Hour being planned for March 2008.

2008

Sydney Opera House - After
Overview of Sydney during Earth Hour 2008

Earth Hour 2008 was held internationally on March 29, 2008 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time, marking the first anniversary of the event. 35 countries around the world participated as official flagship cities and over 400 cities also supported. Landmarks around the world turned off their non-essential lighting for Earth Hour. Some websites took part in the event, with Google's homepage going "dark" on the day .

According to a Zogby International online survey, 36 million Americans—approximately 16 percent of the United States adult population—participated in Earth Hour 2008. The survey also showed there was a 4 percentage point increase in the level of interest in environmental issues such as climate change and pollution directly after the event (73 percent pre-event versus 77 percent post-event).

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House Earth Hour
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House were darkened during Earth Hour 2007.

Tel Aviv scheduled their Earth Hour for Thursday March 27, 2008 to avoid conflict with Sabbath. Dublin moved their Earth Hour to between 9 and 10 p.m. due to their northern geographical location.

AzrieliCenterEarthHour2010
Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv darkened for Earth Hour 2010.
Colosseum Earth Hour
Colosseum darkened for Earth Hour 2008
Santa Cruz de Tenerife Auditorium
Auditorio de Tenerife darkened for Earth Hour

According to WWF Thailand, Bangkok decreased electricity usage by 73.34 megawatts, which, over one hour, is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Bangkok Post gave different figures of 165 megawatt-hours and 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was noted to be significantly less than a similar campaign initiated by Bangkok's City Hall the previous year in May, when 530 megawatt-hours were saved and 143 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission were cut.

Philippine Electricity Market Corp. noted that power consumption dropped by about 78.63 megawatts in Metro Manila, and up to 102.2 megawatts on Luzon. The maximum demand drop of around 39 MW was experienced at 8:14 p.m. in Metro Manila and of around 116 MW at 8:34 p.m. in the Luzon grid.

Ontario used approximately 900 megawatt-hours less electrical energy during Earth Hour. At one point, Toronto saw an 8.7% reduction in consumption as compared to a typical March Saturday night.

Ireland, as a whole, had a reduction in electricity use of about 1.5% for the evening. In the three-hour period between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 pm, there was a reduction of 50 megawatts, saving 150 megawatt-hours, or approximately 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

In Dubai, where external lighting on several major city landmarks was turned off and street lighting in selected areas was dimmed by 50%, the Electricity and Water Authority reported savings of 100 megawatt-hours of electricity. This represented a 2.4% reduction in demand compared to before the hour began.

Earth Hour Sky Tower Auckland
The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, switched off its usual floodlighting during the Earth Hour, and re-lit afterwards. (the red lights in the middle image are aircraft warning lights)

The best result was from Christchurch, New Zealand, with the city reporting a drop of 13% in electricity demand. However, national grid operator Transpower reported that New Zealand's power consumption during Earth Hour was 335 megawatts, higher than the 328 megawatt average of the previous two Saturdays. Melbourne, Australia reduced demand by 10.1%. Sydney, being the city that participated in both the 2007 and 2008 Earth Hours, cut electricity consumption by 8.4%. This is less than the previous year's 10.2%; however, Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley made the claim that after factoring margin of error, the participation in this city was the same.

The worst result was from Calgary, Canada. The city's power consumption actually went up 3.6% at the hour's peak electricity demand. Calgary's weather plays a large role in power consumption, and the city experienced weather 12 °C (around 22 °F) colder than the previous Saturday's recorded temperature in the inaugural year. Enmax, the city's power supplier, has confirmed that in all subsequent years, Calgarians have not supported the Earth Hour initiative, noting that power consumption changed only marginally during the hour in 2010 and 2011 (1% or less) and in 2012 and 2013 showed no appreciable change in power usage at all.

2009

Earth Hour 2009 was from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, March 28, 2009. The campaign was titled "Vote Earth" and was dubbed "the world's first global vote" with one billion votes was the stated aim for Earth Hour 2009, in the context of the pivotal 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference. WWF reported that 88 countries and 4,159 cities participated in Earth Hour 2009, ten times more cities than Earth Hour 2008 had (2008 saw 400 cities participate).

Among the participants in 2009 was, for the first time, the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

In Egypt, the lights went out on the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids of Giza from 8:30 to 9:30 pm.

The Philippines saw participation from 647 cities and towns; over 10 million Filipinos were estimated to have joined in the hour-long lights-off. This was followed by Greece with 484 cities and towns participating, and Australia with 309.

Despite official organizers WWF stating that the event is not about the reduction in electricity, a number of public institutions reported on electricity savings in their cities to see participation numbers. The Canadian province of Ontario, excluding the city of Toronto, saw a decrease of 6% in electricity usage while Toronto saw a decrease of 15.1% (nearly doubled from 8.7% the previous year) as many businesses darkened, including the landmark CN Tower.

The Philippines was able to save 611 MWh of electricity during the time period, which is said to be equivalent to shutting down a dozen coal-fired power plants for an hour.

Swedish electricity operator Svenska Kraftnät recorded a 2.1% decrease in power consumption from its projected figure between 8 p.m. and 9 pm. The following hour, the corresponding number was 5%. This is equivalent to the consumption of approximately half a million households out of the total 4.5 million households in Sweden.

According to the National Power Dispatch Centre, Vietnam's electricity demand fell 140 MWh during Earth Hour.

2010

Botanical Garden of Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil (Earth Hour 2010)
The metal structure of the greenhouses of the curitiban Botanic Garden (Curitiba, Paraná, Southern Brazil), with its lights off on March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010 was held from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time on March 27. In Israel, the hour was held on April 22.

126 countries participated in Earth Hour 2010.

In the United States polling showed that an estimated 90,000,000 Americans participated in Earth Hour as lights were turned off around the country, including landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, the Las Vegas Strip, the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls.

Some cities and landmarks took the opportunity to make more long-term adjustments to their everyday power consumption. In Chicago, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) developed lighting guidelines to reduce light pollution and reduce the carbon footprint of downtown buildings. Mount Rushmore in South Dakota started powering down each night around 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.

In Vietnam, electricity demand fell 500,000 kWh during Earth Hour 2010, which was three times larger than the first time the country joined the event in 2009.

In the Philippines, 1,067 towns and cities pledged participation in 2010 and over 15 million Filipinos participated in the event.

About 4000 cities participated, including landmarks such as Big Ben, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Forbidden City.

2011

Earth Hour 2011 was the biggest year in the campaign's five-year history, reaffirming it as the largest ever voluntary action for the environment. In 2011, the tagline "Beyond the Hour" was adopted by organizers as a way to encourage people to take their commitment to the cause beyond the 60-minute event. Together with agency Leo Burnett, Earth Hour unveiled an updated planet themed logo that included a small plus symbol to the right of the signature "60" which was used in previous years. The 60+ symbol continues to be the main logo used by campaign organizers around the world.

Earth Hour 2011 took place in a record 5,251 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories on all seven continents. It had an estimated reach of 1.8 billion people across the globe. In addition to this, the campaign's digital footprint grew to 91 million.

In India, Earth Hour 2011 was held on March 26, 2011 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm. IST, flagged off by the Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dikshit and Earth Hour 2011 Ambassador and Bollywood actress Vidya Balan in the presence of Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International. Rosebowl channel suspended broadcasting from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. to mark the observance of Earth Hour.

In Azerbaijan, Maiden Tower darkened for Earth Hour.

The Philippines, which has been an active participant of the Earth Hour, had an early "earth hour" when power was accidentally interrupted, plunging Metro Manila and nearby provinces into darkness. After power was restored, major buildings, commercial centers and residential areas in Metro Manila and most provinces continued to turn off their lights, while participating channels in the Philippines, ABS-CBN and Cartoon Network halted their transmissions for an hour.

30 provinces and cities in Vietnam took part in Earth Hour 2011 with the main event held in Nha Trang. The nation's electricity demand fell 400,000 kWh, one-fifth less than the previous year's. Vietnam managed to save 500 million VND (US$23,809) thanks to the saved power.

YouTube promoted the Earth Hour by changing its logo, and by adding a switch on/off feature near the title of each video, so that users could change the background colour from white to black.

One of the least co-operative areas traditionally has been Alberta; in 2008, Calgary's power consumption went up during Earth Hour. The trend continued in 2011 when Edmonton's power usage also increased. While Calgary's power usage went down in 2011 during the event, electricity officials could not distinguish their readings between normal usage and a conscious attempt to participate.

2012

Earth Hour Global headquarters was moving from Sydney to Singapore in February 2012. A launch event took place at ION Orchard on February 20, with the move supported by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and WWF-Singapore.

Earth Hour 2012 was observed on March 31, 2012, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (participants' local time). It took place in more than 7000 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories, making it the biggest growth year for the campaign since 2009. It was also the first year that Earth Hour was celebrated in space, with Dutch astronaut André Kuipers tweeting at various moments during the event's trek around the globe.

2013

Ora della Terra Verona Piazza Bra Arena 2013 WWF Verona Paolo Villa 9954
Italy, Verona, Arena with backlight off on square Bra, in the bottom Town Hall during Earth Hour 2013

Earth Hour 2013 was held across the world on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time to avoid taking place after European Summer Time began, ensuring a greater impact for the lights-off event. It was also changed to avoid coinciding with the Christian Holy Saturday, which fell on March 30 of that year.

Africa

In 2013, the world's first Earth Hour Forest began in Uganda, an ongoing project that aims to restore 2700 hectares of degraded land. Standard Chartered Bank-Uganda pledged to help fill the forest with more than 250,000 trees.

Earth Hour commemorations in Madagascar had as their highlight the distribution of one thousand wood-saving stoves to victims of the cyclone Haruna in the southern town of Toliara, extensively damaged in the February 22 storm. WWF-Madagascar and ADES (Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire) distributed an additional 2,200 wood-saving stoves later that year.

Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae promised to plant one million indigenous trees over four years, as part of his "I Will If You Will" challenge for Earth 2013.

Europe

WWF-Russia launched its 2013 campaign aiming to secure more than 100,000 signatures from Russian citizens to petition for amendments to the current forest legislation. The petition reached more than 127,000 signatures before the Earth Hour event, ensuring the legislation was debated in the State Duma by politicians.

2014

Earth Hour 2014 took place on Saturday, March 29, during the same 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local timeslot. Earth Hour Blue was launched as a global crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet. "It is all about the collective effort of individuals around the world getting together to help fund or add their voice to support on-the-ground environmental and social projects that deliver real outcomes."

The Earth Hour 2014 Report highlighted a broad range of environmental outcomes achieved by the movement across 162 countries and territories around the world. More than US$60,000 was raised on the Earth Hour Blue platform for grassroots environmental projects run by WWF. The movement also saw campaigns to help protect Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the launch of a Blue Sky App in China, and the delivery of thousands of wood efficient stoves to communities in Madagascar.

2015

Earth Hour 2015 took place on Saturday, March 28, again between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time. The tagline for the global campaign was "Change Climate Change", returning to the movement's original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming. A day before the event, over 170 countries and territories had confirmed their participation; with more than 1200 landmarks and close to 40 UNESCO world heritage sites set for the switch off.

For the second year running, Earth Hour Blue aims to raise funds for WWF organized climate focused projects on a crowdfunding platform. This year, crowdfunding projects include solar light distribution in the Philippines and India, and wildlife based projects from Colombia, Uganda and Indonesia.

Uniquely participating in the Earth Hour activity are the inhabitants of an island called Sibuyan in the Philippines who turned on their lights to elevate the message of using renewable energy. The island's source of electricity is a mini-hydro power plant.

2016

Earth Hour 2016 was on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants' local time. It was also changed to avoid coinciding with the Christian Holy Saturday, which fell on March 26 of that year. It was the 10th anniversary of the campaign's beginnings in Sydney, Australia. Almost all the countries in the world observed Earth Hour.

2017

On Saturday, 25 March 2017, Earth Hour rolled across the world once again - from Nairobi to New York, Delhi to Dublin, millions came together to shine a light on climate action. An unprecedented 187 countries and territories took part, over 3,000 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organizations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. The record participation was a fitting celebration for the movement’s tenth international anniversary.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “Governments and businesses must step up - so must individuals. Building a sustainable tomorrow depends today on all of us.”

Earth Hour saw campaigns around the world to shift to renewable energy, promote sustainable lifestyles, push for stronger climate policy and protect forests and nature.

Close to 1 million digital actions were taken to show support for Earth Hour and the movement to change climate change. Over 400 celebrities and influencers worldwide supported Earth Hour 2017 online including WWF Global Ambassadors Jared Leto and Andy Murray as well as Li Bingbing, Ellie Goulding, Claudia Bahamon, Amitabh Bachchan and Forest Whitaker.

More than 18,500 people and close to 15,400 pages signed up on the ‘Donate Your Feed’ platform, available in 14 languages, to donate their posts on Facebook to shine a light on climate action. The posts on personal timelines alone had a potential social reach of more than 12 million.

2018

Earth Hour 2018 took place on 24 March from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in participants' time, and marked the evolution of the evolution of Earth Hour from mobilizing climate action to tackling biodiversity loss.

Earth Hour 2018 engaged millions of people to raise awareness about nature and the need for an ambitious and serious global commitment to halt nature loss and the destabilization of our climate.

Individuals, businesses and organizations in more than 188 countries and territories worldwide joined Earth Hour to spark unprecedented conversations and action on stopping the loss of nature, a day after 550 scientists warned of a ‘dangerous decline’ in global biodiversity.

Close to 18,000 landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity.

From Colombia to Indonesia to Fiji, Earth Hour 2018 mobilized people to join efforts to protect forests and mangroves. In Romania, hundreds of people showed their commitment to safeguarding nature by writing symbolic letters to rivers, forests and wildlife. In Africa, 24 countries celebrated Earth Hour to highlight the most pressing conservation challenges they face such as access to renewable energy, freshwater resources and habitat degradation.

For the first time, people across the globe also joined the conversation on connect2earth.org to share what nature means to them, in the places they live in and care about. The platform aimed to build mass awareness on the values of biodiversity and nature to our lives, health and well-being.

2019

Millions around the world came together on 30 March 2019 to speak up for nature and inspire urgent action for the environment. As Earth Hour rolled around the globe, thousands of landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity for the planet.

From Ecuador to Morocco to Indonesia, Earth Hour 2019 mobilized people across continents to speak up on issues such as sustainable lifestyles, plastic-free oceans, deforestation and water conservation to help raise awareness of the value of nature – a vital first step in starting a global movement for nature.

And they pledged their support for the planet, urging world leaders to push the issue up the global agenda and secure an international commitment to stop and reverse the loss of nature – a New Deal for Nature and People similar to what was achieved with the Paris climate agreement.

Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old climate activist, said: “Earth Hour is every hour of every day.”

“This Earth Hour comes with a great sense of urgency. We can see the worsening impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean pollution, soil degradation and water scarcity.” - UN Secretary-General António Guterres

“Our planet is the most precious thing we have. It is home to each and every one of us, it is the source of life, beauty and health. We are totally dependent on planet Earth, but its wellbeing now depends on us.” - Cosmonauts on the International Space Station

Thousands of landmarks switched off in solidarity for the movement, including Sydney Opera House, Tokyo Sky Tree, Brandenburg Gate, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Pyramids Of Egypt and Christ The Redeemer Statue.

2020

Earth Hour 2020 took place on Saturday, 28 March from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time and it went completely digital due to the global COVID-19 health crisis.

Despite the difficult times, Earth Hour 2020 continued to shine a light on the deep connections between climate change and nature loss – that we can’t beat climate change without protecting nature nor re-establish a thriving natural world without a stable climate.

Safety was of utmost priority with the pandemic on the march; with lockdowns happening around the world, events and get-togethers had to be cancelled at short notice, so Earth Hour went completely digital.

Earth Hour 2020 was a moment of strength and inspiration, reminding people to come together digitally and look after one another and also our planet – our one shared home. Against all odds, it was a remarkable record-breaker – reaching 190 countries and territories, more than ever before, as well as having the largest ever online reach.

Earth Hour 2020 proved to be bigger than ever. Support poured in from renowned public figures, environmental activists and celebrities, as well as from well-known brands, organizations and partners.

Many public personalities such as UN Secretary General António Guterres, Pope Francis, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan, UN Environment Goodwill ambassador Dia Mirza, Kenyan singing sensation Nikita Kering, Colombian model Claudia Bahamon and British Singer Songwriter, Cat Stevens participated in Earth Hour 2020, among others.

2021

Earth Hour will take place on Saturday, 27 March 2021 at 8:30 p.m. local time. This year Earth Hour will shine a spotlight on the urgent need to address nature loss and climate change.

With evidence pointing towards a close link between nature’s destruction and rising incidences of infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19, Earth Hour 2021 will unite people to speak up for nature.

2021 presents a vital opportunity to transform our relationship with the natural world. This year world leaders will take critical decisions on nature, climate change and sustainable development. The ripple effects of these decisions will shape our future and the future of our planet for decades to come. Earth Hour will be a key opportunity to call out leaders for transformative action for protecting our planet from further degradation.

This year, as COVID-19 safety regulations continue, many countries will be celebrating Earth Hour online inspiring millions of people from across the globe to speak up for nature.

On the night of Earth Hour, the first-ever “Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight” will be taking place, with the aim of taking over global social media feeds for an hour and beyond. To take part, supporters must simply share a must-watch film that will be posted at 8:30 pm on Earth Hour’s social media pages.

Many iconic landmarks will be switching off their lights in a symbolic gesture of support on the night of Earth Hour, including the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, St Peter's Square, the Colosseum in Rome and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

Organizations that support Earth Hour

Earth Hour is supported around the world by UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme, the International Trade Union Confederation, Woodland, CBRE Group, the National Hockey League, FIFA, UEFA, Hilton Worldwide, Girl Scouts of the US, World Organization of the Scout Movement, HSBC, World Association of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Philips, IKEA, The Body Shop, ING Vysya Bank, and more.

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