Earth Hour: turn off the lights, light up the future
This simple WWF initiative was born in Sydney, Australia in 2007, when 2 200 000 people and thousands of businesses turned their lights off during sixty seconds to show their commitment to the planet and to call the attention of the world to face climate change. In its second edition, on March 2008, Earth Hour was a global phenomenon: over 50 million people – nearly twice the population of Peru – turned their lights off in 370 cities of 35 countries.
In 2009, the goal of its third edition was more ambitious. One billion people in over a thousand cities around the world were expected to turn their lights off in order to deliver a message to the world leaders asking for larger commitments in the fight against climate change, and for the first time, Peru participated.
8 million Peruvians
On Saturday, March 28th 2009 at 8:30 p.m., Peruvians made their voices heard around the world. Nearly 40 cities turned their lights off in the entire country. The Mayor of Lima led the initiative by turning off the lights in the main monuments and Main Square in the historic center, including City Hall, Government Palace and the Cathedral, among others. From the President to the newspaper vendors in the streets, including Ministers, Congressmen and Mayors, as well as artists, singers and dozens of national companies, publicly joined the Earth Hour initiative.
The most important shopping centers, hotels and banks, as well as the five main supermarket chains also participated. Gian Marco, Peru’s most admired pop star, turned his lights off during a concert in front of an audience of over 20 000 people. The media also did their part, that day El Comercio, the most important national newspaper, printed a black front page and the rest of the media in general helped turn this initiative into the largest environmental campaign in the history of Peru.
However, the most impressive result was that during the peak moment of Earth Hour, a 15% drop in the national electric energy consumption was officially registered. This means that around 8 million Peruvians - or one in every three Peruvians with access to electric energy – turned their lights off. This was one of the most surprising results in Latin America and the world.
“We will symbolically meet our promise of turning off the lights during the established period of time (…), this initiative is very important” (Alan Garcia, President of the Republic, Radio Programas del Peru, March 2009)
A vote for the Earth
Globally, the goal was also greatly surpassed. Artists and personalities all around the world massively answered the call to join the fight against climate change. From the Sydney Opera House in Australia to the the Corcovado Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, including the Beijing National Stadium in China and the Egyptian Pyramids, nearly 4000 cities around the world turned their lights off during Earth Hour and it is estimated that the goal of a billion people was surpassed.
The planet turned its lights off as a symbolic vote for the Earth and a more optimistic future in which world leaders assume real commitments in order to confront climate change. Today, this initiative continues to grow and become consolidated as the largest environmental movement in the world in favor of a future with a safe climate.
- Over 95 000 messages in advertisement panels in toll gates in Lima during only one week, 500 000 text messages to mobile phones in one day and a black front page are only some examples of how authorities, companies and media backed Earth Hour in Peru.
- Nearly 4000 cities in over 85 countries turned their lights off as a call for action to face climate change.
With valuable support from: UK Department for International Development (DFID), WWF UK and WWF AT.