World switches off to save planet in "Earth Hour"

Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:58pm EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Lights went out at tourism landmarks and homes across the globe on Saturday for Earth Hour 2009, a global event designed to highlight the threat from climate change.

From the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and London's Houses of Parliament, lights were dimmed as part of a campaign to encourage people to cut energy use and curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

Organizers said the action showed millions of people wanted governments to work out a strong new U.N. deal to fight global warming by the end of 2009, even though the global economic crisis has raised worries about the costs.

"We have been dreaming of a new climate deal for a long time," Kim Carstensen, head of a global climate initiative at the conservation group WWF, said in a candle-lit bar in the German city of Bonn, which hosts U.N. climate talks between March 29 and April 8.

"Now we're no longer so alone with our dream. We're sharing it with all these people switching off their lights," he said as delegates and activists sipped bluish cocktails.

The U.N. Climate Panel says greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet and will lead to more floods, droughts, heatwaves, rising sea levels and animal and plant extinctions.

World emissions have risen by about 70 percent since the 1970s. China has recently overtaken the United States as the top emitter, ahead of the European Union, Russia and India.


The U.N. Climate Panel says rich nations will have to cut their emissions to a level between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst effects of warming. Developing nations will also have to slow the rise of their emissions by 2020, it says.   Continued...

<p>A combination picture shows a view of the Millenium bridge over the Tyne river before (top) and during Earth Hour in Newcastle, northern England March 28, 2009. More than 80 countries have signed up for Earth Hour on Saturday in which homes, office towers and landmarks will turn off their lights from 8.30 pm local time to raise awareness about climate change and the threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis</p>