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29 Mar, 2014 17:10

Earth Hour: Millions switch off lights around the globe to raise funds for green projects

Earth Hour: Millions switch off lights around the globe to raise funds for green projects

Millions of people from at least 150 countries all over the world are switching off their lights to celebrate a symbolic holiday, known as Earth Hour, which this year aims to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for environmental projects.

The lights dim on Saturday between 1630 GMT and 1730 GMT under the slogan “Use your Power” in some 7,000 cities all over the world.

“It’s a brilliant reminder that together we can make change happen. …It’s a moment to say you’ll do your bit to protect our planet – not just for one hour, but every day,” said a statement on the official website of the Earth Hour that leads countdown.

This combo of pictures shows the Bulgarian National Theatre with the lights on (L) and with the lights off (R), as part of the Earth Hour in Sofia on March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo / Nikolay Doychinov)

Among the world's famous sites that will dim their lights are the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge will all plunge into darkness in the UK, while Gwanghwamun Square, in the South Korean capital of Seoul, will switch its lights, too.

People attend a candle light vigil at Vilnius Cathedral as it stands unlit during Earth Hour in Vilnius on March 29, 2014.(AFP Photo / Petras Malukas)

The United States will see the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Times Square and the Empire State building in New York switching off their lights to commemorate a symbolic holiday. Even some of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas will be turning off their displays.

Almost 4,000 candles will spell "Lights out for the Reef" at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia as the activists are trying to attract the world attention to the problem of the Great Barrier Reef, which is highly affected by climate change.

In this combo photo large electronic billboards stand dark (R) on Times Square as their lights were turned off to mark "Earth Hour" in New York, March 23, 2013. (AFP Photo / Emmanuel Dunand)

"For us the symbolism or turning your lights off will always be important,” says Earth Hour's CEO and co-founder, Andy Ridley, “That's the holy grail for us – building a global collective movement, far beyond the event, where the event becomes a kind of inspiration but the movement is really the essence of it."

The United Nations is among the organizations which will participate in the symbolic action according to the UN official website, it “is going the extra mile and turning off all non- essential lights within the UN complex in New York for three hours." The HQs in Geneva, Switzerland and other locations will also become dark.

“I look forward to joining you on March 29 as we switch off our lights for one hour - and switch on to a cleaner, greener future, " UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday in a video message for the opening of the WWF office in Seoul, South Korea.

A combo picture shows the dome in Cologne during the the Earth Hour environmental campaign on March 29, 2014 in Cologne, western Germany. (AFP Photo / Henning Kaiser)

Meanwhile, Ridley says that the Earth Hour is not about going back to the dark ages. The whole event shows “an idea that you as an individual can do something.”

“It is an excuse to lean over the garden fence and talk to your neighbor or a reason for people to talk to each other at a restaurant, so I never underestimate the power of that symbolism," he said.

Earth Hour was first launched in Australia in 2007 and since then has grown to become the world's biggest environmental event encouraging people to rethink the issues from deforestation to energy efficiency.

According to WWF, which supports the campaign, Earth Hour helped several countries to introduce new legislations. Thanks to Earth Hour campaign Argentina passed a senate bill to create a new 3.4 million-hectare marine reserve in 2013 while Uganda planted half a million trees in an "Earth Hour forest" to stop deforestation.

The combo picture shows activists of World Wide Fund (WWF) posing in front of the Brandenburg Gate during the Earth Hour environmental campaign in March 29, 2014 in Berlin. (AFP Photo / Johannes Eisele)