Earth Hour facts for kids

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The metal structure of the greenhouses of the curitiban Botanic Garden

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 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. on a specific day towards the end of 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 to engage more than 7,000 cities and towns across 172 countries.

Earth Hour 2016 was on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants' local time. and was held March 25 in 2017.

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 organisers 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.

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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.

Ggb during earth hour
Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands public open space in the background, before (inset) and during Earth Hour 2008

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 organisers 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 Vietnam Electricity Company, Vietnam's electricity demand fell 140 MWh during Earth Hour.

Participation

96 countries and territories on 6 continents participated in the event in 2009.

Participating television and radio stations

  • The National Geographic Channel suspended regular programming for an hour and showed how to reduce energy consumption during Earth Hour.
  • Cartoon Network and Magic 105.4 FM broadcast Earth Hour at 20:30 for the event.

Malaysia's 8TV halted transmission for one hour starting from 20:30

  • DhiTV and Villa TV halted transmission for one hour in Maldives from 20:30.
  • Canal 5 in Mexico halted transmission for one hour in Mexico City at 20:30.
  • Philippine network ABS-CBN turned off the lights in their studio from 20:30 to 21:30.
    • Naga City internet radio stations Zone105 and XFM Naga went offline at 20:30.
  • Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE) turned off the lights in their newsrooms and their sets.

2010

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The metal structure of the greenhouses of the curitiban Botanic Garden (Curitiba, Paraná, Southern Brazil), with its lights off on March 27, 2010
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A picture of 1600 pandas (made in Thailand by the World Wide Fund for Nature) exposed in Boulogne-Billancourt (France) on the occasion of Earth Hour

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.

Participating TV channels and radio stations

  • National Geographic Channel Asia and Cartoon Network both suspended broadcasting from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • In the Philippines, GMA Network turned off lights in their building from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m, while ABS-CBN stopped broadcasting and turned off their lights.
  • Vietnam's FBNC channel joined hands with Earth Hour Vietnam.
  • The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario ran its full program running only on candlelight again.

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 organisers 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 organisers 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 color 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 9886
Italy, Verona, Arena with backlight on on square Bra, in the bottom Town Hall before Earth Hour 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 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 pm 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 pm 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 organised 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 year anniversary of the campaign's beginnings in Sydney, Australia. Östersund in Sweden cancelled the 2016 event, following a spate of sex attacks, highlighting safety as a subject for discussion when saving resources. Almost all the countries in the world observed Earth Hour.

2017

Earth Hour occurred on Saturday, March 25.

Organisations that support Earth Hour

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

Measurement of reduction in electricity use

The Earth Hour Global FAQ page states:

Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action. Therefore, we do not engage in the measurement of energy/carbon reduction levels for the hour itself. Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges. Participation in Earth Hour symbolises a commitment to change beyond the hour.

A 2014 study published in Energy Research and Social Science compiled 274 measurements of observed changes in electricity demand caused by Earth Hour in 10 countries, spanning 6 years, and found that the events reduced electricity consumption an average of 4%. The study noted the policy challenge of converting Earth Hour's short-term energy saving into longer-term actions, including sustained changes in behavior and investment.


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