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People can do something positive for the planet, Earth Hour co-founder says

Homes and landmarks set to switch off lights for Earth Hour

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Tower Bridge in central London switches off its lights for an hour to mark WWF’s Earth Hour to awareness about climate change.

Tower Bridge in central London switches off its lights for an hour to mark WWF’s Earth Hour to awareness about climate change.

Tower Bridge in central London switches off its lights for an hour to mark WWF’s Earth Hour to awareness about climate change.

The world has the chance to do something positive for the planet even during this current crisis, a co-founder of the Earth Hour environmental movement has said.

Andy Ridley, who was one of the driving forces behind Earth Hour when it began  in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, was speaking as households and landmarks across the globe are being asked to switch off their lights to mark this year’s event.

Famous buildings and structures will go dark between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Saturday, as part of the international event organised by WWF to urge action to save the planet.

Earth Hour 2016
Composite photo of the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) in London in 2016, which went dark for an hour  to mark the WWF’s Earth Hour. (Yui Mok/PA)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conservation charity said it is not organising public gatherings – instead, supporters are encouraged to join in with online events.

Mr Ridley, speaking in an interview with Steven Day, the co-founder of renewable energy provider Pure Planet, said that  “the one thing we should be taking out of this is we have the capacity to act if we decide we are going to”.

He added that there is a “power of action when you get a mass engagement”.

Mr Ridley also said that the world’s current battle with coronavirus “does clearly show the capacity for us to deal with things” and he advised anyone who may no longer be able to get outside that “the biggest thing” is to “remember how good it is to be out and how worth it that is.”

He also said in the interview: “Greta (Thunberg, the teenage environmental campaigner) was right when she said if governments decide to do something then we can do something. The excuse has always been it’s too hard, but we have just proven it isn’t too hard. So what happens at the end of this, how do we rethink what’s going on?”

A number of landmarks across England are expected to take part in the grassroots movement, including London’s The Shard, Blackpool Tower and Old Trafford in Manchester.

The annual hour of darkness aims to highlight the impact humans are having on the planet through climate change, pollution, plastic and food production.

Katie White, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “These are really unprecedented times, and I know a lot of people are looking for ways to connect and feel connected.

“In this global health crisis, now is a pivotal time for us to work together to safeguard our future and the future of our planet.”

Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge will go dark, while London hotspots like Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden – which have been deserted in the past week due to the Covid-19 outbreak – are also expected to take part.

Tower Bridge in London went dark for Earth Hour, last year (PA Wire)
Tower Bridge in London went dark for Earth Hour last year (PA)

More than 7,000 cities in some 170 countries were estimated to have taken part last year.

WWF is also encouraging supporters to join in online by tagging #EarthHour, while the organisation said it is running a series of virtual events – such as a silent disco and a Facebook quiz.

Ms White said: “While – first and foremost – our thoughts are with those affected by coronavirus, and those who are working so hard in healthcare and other vital services, many millions of us are working and operating from our homes.

“Taking part in Earth Hour this year feels very timely – a time when millions unite around the world to show they care about the future of our planet.

“In these difficult times, It’s an opportunity to inspire hope.”

PA