Welsh singing icon Tom Jones was among a host of television and sports personalities who attended the countdown to the launch of this year’s Earth Hour at the Langham Hotel in Auckland last night.
Plans have been unveiled to plunge New Zealand into darkness at 8.30pm on Saturday 27 March – the first of more than 70 countries taking part in this year’s Earth Hour. WWF-New Zealand last night announced that all of the major cities, including Auckland, Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Hamilton, will be participating in the global ‘lights out’ event, to send a powerful message about the urgent need for action on climate change.
The Earth Hour will see millions of people around the world turn off their lights and unnecessary appliances for one hour.
Financial journalist and media commentator Rod Oram said Earth Hour is important because is shows “when enough individuals act, the compound impact is enormous”. “Such a demonstration of people power around the world has never been more urgent given the weakness of domestic policies here and in almost all other countries,” he said.
Rick Zwaan, 16, an Earth Hour ambassador who travelled to Copenhagen as a UNICEF climate kiwi, said the campaign is a good opportunity to “symbolise the interconnectedness of our world”.
“Turning off our lights for an hour won’t solve climate change, but it will show how committed we all are to solving these serious issues. It’s now very clear that our world ‘leaders’ can’t manage to overcome there personal greed, so now we must show them how,” he said.
During Earth Hour, the Sky Tower will be disappearing from the city’s skyline, and a free community concert with music will be hosted at Britomart Square.
Further down the country in Dunedin, fire dancers, African drummers and a children’s choir will celebrate as the Octagon’s lights go out for Earth Hour.
In Hamilton, the city centre will run all day Earth Hour celebrations, starting with an organic farmers market and ending with live bands playing at stage in Garden Place. And in Hastings, the Hawke’s Bay Opera House will be the focal point for a series of events, with festival stalls and live entertainment including Kapa Haka, fire poi, star-gazing, music and story telling.
Many more community events are being planned by district and regional councils.