The United Nations and Empire State Building headquarters in New York joined other monuments and iconic buildings around the world plunging into darkness for sixty minutes on Saturday to mark Earth Hour and draw attention to climate change. The Kremlin, the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis in Athens and Sydney’s Opera House also dimmed their lights as millions of people from some 170 countries and territories were anticipated to take part in Earth Hour, the annual bid to highlight global warming caused by the burning of coal, gas and oil to drive power plants and cars.
The event, which originated in Sydney, has grown to become a worldwide environmental campaign, celebrated across all continents. The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) conservation group, which organizes the event, said great strides had been made in featuring the dire state of the planet. Coordinator Siddharth Das said, “We started Earth Hour in 2007 to show leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about.” Many harborside buildings in Sydney switched off their lights for an hour from 8:30 pm local time as the call for action began rolling out across the world.
It moved westward from Australia through Asia, with many of the skyscrapers ringing Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor going dark in solidarity, while at Myanmar’s most sacred pagoda, the Shwedagon, 10,000 oil lamps were lit to shine a light on climate action. The lights of the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, went dark for an hour and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, best-known symbol of France, were switched off for five minutes at 1930 GMT. London’s Big Ben, London Eye giant wheel and the Houses of Parliament followed suit, among 270 British monuments that switched off.
Berlin’s famed Brandenburg Gate and its City Hall also plunged into darkness as some 300 other German cities took part in the event. Around 200 organizations, including buildings along the city-state’s iconic skyline in Singapore, went black to mark the occasion. Organizers said around 35,000 people watched performances and participated in a “carbon-neutral run” that saw some runners in tiger and panda costumes to raise awareness of wildlife protection.
Scientists recorded the Earth’s hottest temperatures in modern times for the third year in a row, last year. Nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures. That is the level at which many researchers and scientists say humankind can still avoid worst-case climate outcomes in terms of rising sea levels, increasingly violent superstorms and worsening floods and droughts.