Earth Hour: A story of how the light switch sparked a global movement for change

The International Year of the Light celebrates the role of light and light-based technology in sustainable development. Strange then that we should be writing about switching off the lights on this blog but the truth is that with Earth Hour, the lights, and the light switch, are a symbol of people’s commitment to a sustainable future.

WWF’s Earth Hour was started in Sydney in 2007 as an hour where the city’s 2.2 million inhabitants came together to show the then government that climate change and our planet’s future was an issue they cared about. In a stunning visual call-out the entire city went dark in one instant and the world’s first ever Earth Hour put the spotlight on an environmental challenge that constitutes one of the biggest threats to a sustainable future – climate change. Today, the event has evolved into the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment inspiring and uniting millions around the world to use their power to change climate change.

From one city, the Earth Hour movement has grown to engage individuals, businesses and organizations in more than 7,000 cities and 162 countries and territories around the world. It has grown from 2.2 million individuals to hundreds of millions of supporters worldwide and it has grown from switching off the light to ‘switching on’ #YourPower and taking action for the planet. The light switch is the trigger but the impact of Earth Hour shines through for much longer and all across the globe.

Russian legislation on marine exploration and deforestation, a ban on plastic in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), a UNESCO world heritage site, families equipped with fuel-efficient stoves in Nepal and Madagascar, 17 million trees planted in Kazakhstan, 66.7 million digital interactions on the need for air pollution control in China and the world’s first Earth Hour forest created in Uganda which loses 6,000 hectares of land to deforestation every month…these are just some of the outcomes that Earth Hour supporters around the world have helped achieve so far and the momentum continues.

Earth Hour in Bolivia. Credit: WWF Bolivia / Giovanny Vera

Earth Hour in Bolivia. Credit: WWF Bolivia / Giovanny Vera

Earth Hour 2015 will focus on driving concrete climate actions on renewable energy, sustainable food and agriculture, climate-friendly legislation and business practices, conservation projects and climate education in schools. Even before the hour, WWF teams across the world are already working with citizens, policymakers and businesses to drive progress on climate action, including advising the government in Nepal on policy to facilitate access to solar power for urban residential use, raising climate awareness in schools in Europe and Africa, and working with farmers and fishermen from Australia to Colombia.

This year, as governments prepare to discuss the future of climate action, Earth Hour is an opportunity to take the talk on climate change out from conference rooms into the homes of people. It empowers people to take action on locally relevant climate issues, raise their voice and be heard. It enables individuals to recognize and use their power to bring about real, positive change…to Change Climate Change. And it all started with a light.

Join the movement – use #YourPower on to take action for our planet today. And remember to celebrate your commitment to the cause during Earth Hour taking place on Saturday 28th March 2015 at 8:30 PM local time. In the International Year of the Light, take a stand for a brighter future – and turn off the lights.

Suds Sarronwala (Exec. Comms. & Marketing WWF-International) gives St. Gallen update on engaging Hundreds of Millions project through social media during the closing plenary of the WWF 2012 annual conference held aboard SS Rotterdam in Rotterdam Harbour.Sudhanshu Sarronwala is the Executive Director, Marketing & Communications from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF International), Switzerland. With more than 25 years of experience, his role includes brand, media and digital communications efforts to build a strong WWF Network that can engage and influence stakeholders in the quest to to a build a world where humans live in harmony with nature. In addition, he also has management responsibility for Earth Hour Global and WWF-Singapore and is a member of both boards.

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